Al-Quds University journalism student Malik al-Qadi following his release from administrative detention
JERUSALEM – Israeli authorities released former hunger-striking prisoner Malik al-Qadi to Palestinian medics on Saturday to transfer him to a hospital in the occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said on Saturday morning that its staff was transferring al-Qadi from the Israeli Wolfson Medical Center to the Istishari Arab Hospital in the city of Ramallah.
Al-Qadi is in a dire health condition after going without food for 68 days to protest being held in administrative detention — internment without trial or charges — by Israel.
Al-Qadi ended his hunger strike on Wednesday, along with fellow prisoners Muhammad and Mahmoud al-Balboul, after an agreement with the Israeli prisons services not to renew their administrative detentions.
Muhammad Balboul, 26, had refused food for 77 days since July 7, while his 23-year-old brother Mahmoud had been on hunger strike 79 days since July 5, and al-Qadi, 25, declared his hunger strike on July 16.
Qaraqe said in a statement on Wednesday that Muhammad and Mahmoud al-Balboul were set to be released on Dec. 8, while Malik al-Qadi would be released on Sep. 22, and that all three of their administrative detentions would not be renewed.
The three had initially launched their hunger strikes amid a mass movement across Israeli prisons in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoner Bilal Kayid, who after 71 days suspended his hunger strike after striking a deal with Israel to end his administrative detention sentence. He was reportedly set to be released on Dec. 12.
Kayid was one of the most high-profile hunger strikers since Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq came near death during a 94-day hunger strike protesting his administrative detention order, before he was finally released in May.
Rights groups have claimed that Israel’s administrative detention policy, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence, has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, students, and journalists.
Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.
According to Addameer, as of August, 7,000 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons, 700 of whom were being held under administrative detention.
HEBRON – Israeli forces reopened the northern entrance to the village of Beit Ummar north of Hebron City on Thursday, after the road had been closed by Israeli authorities for four days to carry out maintenance work on an Israeli military watchtower stationed there.
Local activist Muhammad Ayad Awad said that the maintenance work expanded the military watchtower and narrowed the street, which is the main entrance to the village, to one lane instead of two lanes as before.
He said that the development will have a negative impact on the daily lives of Beit Ummar’s residents, forcing them to live under continuous Israeli surveillance and increase traffic congestion in the village.
Awad added that Israeli forces continued the closure of a sub-entrance near the village’s central vegetable market, which he said has been closed for five years.
The road was closed amid a heightened Israeli military presence in the Hebron district in the wake of a number of alleged attacks committed by Palestinians in the area, with the Israeli army adding an additional battalion to the district and setting up several road blocks throughout the district, while blocking off the village of Bani Naim and the Old City’s Tel Rumeida area entirely.
BETHLEHEM – Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman compared the illegal Israeli Amona outpost to the indigenous Palestinian Bedouin village of Susiya and Palestinian land in Jerusalem on Monday in a speech at Ariel University in the occupied West Bank, according to Israeli media.
The Amona outpost was slated for demolition following a 2008 Israeli Supreme Court decision after eight Palestinians from neighboring villages — with the support of Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din — successfully petitioned the court to remove the outpost on grounds that the construction was carried out on privately-owned Palestinian land.
“There is no way that Amona can be left as it is built today, because most of the houses are built on private Palestinian land,” Lieberman reportedly said on Monday, referring to Amona, which was built in 1996.
After years of appeals from right-wing Israeli government officials, and attempts by Amona settlers to prove they had legally purchased the land, an Israeli police investigation in May 2014 found the entirety of the outpost to have been built on Private Palestinian lands, and that the documents used by Amona residents to try claim their “purchases” were in fact forged.
In December 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered again that the outpost be demolished by December 2016.
According to Haaretz, Lieberman followed up on his comments about Amona on Monday with the stipulation that “all the rules that apply to Amona apply to every other place as well.”
Claiming that “there is only one law for both Israelis and Palestinians,” Lieberman reportedly told the audience that it was unacceptable that such rulings — as in the case of Amona, which along with every other settlement and outpost in the occupied West Bank is internationally recognized as being illegal — are unfairly enforced against Israelis but not against “other trespassers.”
The “trespassers” Lieberman was referring to were the Palestinian residents of Susiya in the southern West Bank, and the Palestinians of the area known as the “E1 corridor,” a contentious zone that the Israeli government has set up to link annexed East Jerusalem with the mega settlement of Maale Adumim, which would virtually cut the occupied West Bank in half, making the creation of a contiguous Palestinian State impossible.
“We are a nation based on law and we will honor court decisions in all circumstances,” Lieberman said, saying that “when it comes to enforcing rulings against other trespassers everyone stands up on their hind legs,” seemingly complaining about the international community’s harsh reactions to Israeli government attempts to demolish Susiya and replace it with an illegal Jewish settlement of the exact same name.
Susiya’s residents have been embroiled in a decades-long legal battle to legalize the village and have endured multiple demolitions enforced by Israeli authorities over the years, who say Palestinians lack the proper building permits to live on the land that lies between an Israeli settlement and Israel-controlled archaeological site.
The privately owned Palestinian land is located in Area C — the more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control — where building permits for Palestinians are nearly impossible to obtain.
Many of the villagers have ties to the land that predate the creation of the state of Israel, and Ottoman-era land documents to prove it.
Most recently, in mid-July, authorities from Israel’s Civil Administration abruptly halted months of dialog with Susiya’s residents over the possibility of legalizing the village, telling them that a future agreement on the village would now be the responsibility of Lieberman.
Lieberman postponed the announcement of his decision twice, first until November 2016, and then until December.
According to spokesperson for Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) Yariv Mohar, who is assisting in Susiya’s legal battle, Lieberman’s decision on whether or not to continue the dialogue between the residents of Susiya and the Civil Administration is set to be announced on December 15, 2016.
Lieberman will be responsible for deciding whether to accept the state of Israel’s request to immediately and without prior notice demolish some 40 percent of the southern occupied West Bank village, where half of the some 200 village residents live according to RHR.
The lawyers of RHR have affirmed that there is no question as to whether the residents own the land they are on, also noting that “basic (Jewish) morality dictates it is wrong to demolish part of a village which has previously demolished without any plan or solution for the residents, while international law prohibits the forcible transfer of populations,” Mohar told Ma’an in August.
Though Lieberman has yet to formally announce a decision, his comments on Monday indicate that in his opinion, the residents of Susiya should be subject to the same treatment as the illegal settlers occupying privately owned Palestinian land in Amona.
Lieberman has previously advocated policies ranging from the overthrow of the Palestinian Authority to the deportation of Palestinian citizens of Israel into the occupied Palestinian territory, while promoting the transfer of towns in Israel that are heavily populated by Palestinians to a future Palestinian state in exchange for illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Lieberman himself lives in the southern occupied West Bank Israeli settlement of Nokdim, in contravention of international law.
Since appointed as defense minister by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in May, the two have teamed up to approve hundreds of new housing units in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The pro-Israel crowd love to trot out anti-Semitic memes to smear their opponents. One of them, used widely by Alan Dershowitz and the like is the term “blood libel.” Accuse Israelis of killing Palestinians indiscriminately and it’s a blood libel because, of course, a Jew shedding non-Jewish blood is the same as Jews murdering Christian babies to use their blood in making matzah for Passover. Got that?
Bibi Netanyahu’s latest outrage is this video in which he ever so innocently professes bafflement that Palestinians would oppose Israeli settlements. Why, he asks, if 2-million “Arabs” (the actual number is 1.8-million) live in Israel proper, can’t Jews live in Palestine?
There is a wee-small problem with this analogy: approximately 600,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements. But they have lived in them for at best a generation, while Palestinians have lived in Israel for centuries. The vast bulk of settlers moved to Palestine since 1967, while Palestinians have lived in Israel over a vastly longer span. Nor have Palestinians displaced anyone over this period. While Israeli settlers have literally stolen the land out from under the Palestinian natives.
Bibi’s general argument is not new. He and his supporters have advanced it for years. But he added a new and even more outrageous twist this time: Palestinian opposition to Israeli settlements was akin to ethnic cleansing because it meant no Palestinian would ever accept any Jew living anywhere on Palestinian land.
There are numerous outrageous elements to this charge worth parsing. The first, and most obvious is that it’s Israel, rather than Palestine, that’s engaged in ethnic cleansing. Israel has destroyed a record number of Palestinian homes over the past year, leaving their inhabitants homeless. It has enacted draconian definitions of Palestinian residency which render tens of thousands of Palestinians stateless if they live outside areas like East Jerusalem for any length of time. Israel also depopulates Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem through forcible eviction and theft of homes. Israel maintains a stranglehold over the West Bank economy so that stifles innovation, independence and development that might sustain the population. The final coup de grâce is the siege of Gaza, which has forced thousands of Gazans to flee their imprisonment by any means possible.
So which Israeli Jew has ever been ethnically cleansed from Palestine? None. Further, the claim that Palestinians will never accept Jews living in Palestine is a hoax perpetrated by none other than Netanyahu himself and his followers. In fact, those like Rabbi Menachem Froman, who lived in the Tekoah settlement before his untimely death, denounced the idea of Israeli national sovereignty in the West Bank. He argued that he would happily live under Palestinian jurisdiction. What was important to him was not which nation owned the land on which he lived. Rather, he believed God owned the land and his allegiance was to Him and not to any particular nation.
Such an approach offered a way for Jews to remain in Palestine after a peace agreement was signed. Undoubtedly, the lion’s share of settlers would return to Israel, rather than remain under Palestinian sovereignty. But to those who really sought to uphold the vision of Abraham and the Bible to live in this Holy land, they could live there as Palestinian (or Israeli) citizens.
The final hypocrisy of Bibi’s video is his refusal to reciprocate with Palestinians regarding Jewish settlers in Palestine. If you truly believe that Jews must live there, then it’s self-evident that Palestinians should be permitted to return to their homes in pre-48 Israel. Jewish settlers see their return to their ancestral homeland as a fulfillment of sacred Biblical texts and a divine promise. The Palestinian return to their homelands from which they were expelled by Israel in 1948 is no less compelling to them. It is, to them, reparation for the Original Sin committed against them by Ben Gurion in the establishment of the State.
So if Bibi wants to argue that Jews who returned to ancient sites like Hebron or Tekoah or Bethlehem must be permitted to remain there, I say fine: then let’s talk about the return of the original refugees expelled in the Nakba and their direct descendants.
The U.S. government was none to happy with Bibi’s incitement against Palestinians. The State Department, in its typical milquetoast fashion, called the comments “inappropriate and unhelpful.” This sort of language is akin to taking a pebble to a gunfight. It’s one thing when David faces off against Goliath with a slingshot. But this is like David blowing bubbles at his well-armed nemesis. Indeed, the motto for U.S. policy toward Israel should be an inversion of the famous military slogan: “always outnumbered, always outgunned.”
NOTE: I’ve just published a new piece at Mint Press News, Israel Ramps Up Its War on BDS. It exposes an official Israeli campaign of death threats and intimidation against Palestinian activists and NGOs.
In a damning report, the UN development body (UNCTAD) described the ways Israeli occupation of Gaza and West Bank has been preventing the Palestinian economy from recovery and getting twice as big as it is now.
The document detailing the “staggering economic cost” of Israeli occupation was released on Tuesday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
“The Palestinian economy would be at least twice as large without Israeli occupation,” the findings reveal.
Among the key reasons for the high unemployment and staggering poverty the agency cites “confiscation of Palestinian land, water and other natural resources.” It adds that “restrictions on the movement of people and goods; destruction of assets and the productive base;” also played a major role here.
According to the latest estimations by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics nearly 27 percent of people of the autonomy are currently without job. Meanwhile UNCTAD has revealed that over 66 percent of the Palestinians were food-insecure last year.
“The continuous process of de-agriculturalization and de-industrialization” has contributed to a severe degradation of Palestinian economy, according to the UN report. The paper states that in Gaza “producers are denied access to half of the cultivable area and 85 per cent of fishery resources.”
The West Bank area is facing a similar problem, according to the UN. In the so-called area C, which constitutes over 60 percent of West Bank “more than 66 per cent of its grazing land, is not accessible to Palestinian producers”.
The figures published in the report say that the Israeli occupation of the Area C “costs the Palestinian economy the equivalent of 35 per cent of GDP ($4.4 billion in 2015).”
The Israeli military campaign in 2014 whose proclaimed goal, was to prevent rocket attacks on its territories from the Palestinian areas delivered another blow to the financial recovery of the Palestinians.
The following tightening of the Gaza blockade, in place since 2007, made the things even worse, the report states. It resulted in additional civilian items being banned after labeled “dual-use”, meaning they can be also implemented for causing harm.
The crisis resulted in additional severe shortages of medical equipment as well as serious reduction in water supplies in the occupied territories, the UN finds. The problem also contributed to the rising infant mortality of almost 20 out of 1,000 live births. The trend is labeled “unprecedented” and found only in countries “affected by HIV epidemics”
In addition UNCTAD points out that the expanding settlement policies by the Israeli authorities are contributing to the Palestinian plight.
“There are now 142 settlements in the West Bank, bringing the number of Israeli settlers to over one fifth of the Palestinian population. This expansion undermines the prospects for a two-State solution,” UNCTAD claims.
The so-called two-state solution, proposed by the UN would see an establishment of an independent state of Palestine alongside Israel, west of the Jordan River. The potential boundaries however remain one of the key stumbling blocks here.
In the latest development, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s press service has issued a statement saying he is considering Russia’s offer to host Israeli-Palestinian talks in Moscow
“[Netanyahu] presented Israel’s position whereby he is always ready to meet [Abbas] without preconditions and is therefore considering the Russian president’s proposal and the timing for a possible meeting,” the statement said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already accepted the offer to meet with Netanyahu, although the date for the talks has not been yet set.
RAMALLAH – Israeli forces imprisoned 30 teenage Palestinians over the month of August and collected 65,000 shekels ($17,270) from their families as fines, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said Monday, with the majority of the detainees saying they were beaten and tortured during their detention, interrogation, and transport from one detention center to another.
A statement released Monday quoted the committee’s lawyer Luay Akka as saying that among the detainees were minors as young as 13 years old.
Akka added that 17 of the detainees were taken from their homes during military raids, five were detained from off the street, four at military checkpoints, and four arrived voluntarily to detention centers after they received summons from Israeli authorities.
Three of the 30 detainees were held without being charged or standing trial in administrative detention, and the rest were sentenced after court hearings to periods ranging from one month to 45 months.
Mousa Khanafsa, a 14-year-old boy from Abu Dis in the Jerusalem district of the occupied West Bank told Akka that he was violently beaten when he was detained from a street near his house.
A group of undercover Israeli officers, he said, chased him in the street and when they caught him they “assaulted him with the butts of their rifles, stomped on him with military boots, and was left bleeding from his nose.”
It was the latest report to emerge recently from the committee and other rights groups, amid years of well-documented abuse and mistreatment of Palestinian children by Israeli forces.
Akka reported last month on the cases of two Palestinian minors who were tortured, abused, and medically neglected in Israeli custody, one of which after being shot at point-blank range when Israeli forces detained them for rock throwing in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.
Locals in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur reported Saturday that Israeli police detained and assaulted 16-year-old Jamal al-Zaatari. During his detention, Jamal was pepper sprayed and beaten, resulting in injuries to his face, back, and feet, in addition to several bruises.
A report released recently by BADIL, a Palestinian NGO, warned of an increasing trend of Israeli forces shooting and injuring Palestinian youth — particularly in the knees and legs — during the near-nightly detention raids carried across the occupied West Bank.
Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) has also extensively documented the abuse of Palestinians children in East Jerusalem by Israeli forces and the harsh interrogation practices used to force their confessions.
Despite “on paper” having more rights than Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank who are subject to a draconian military detention system, in practice, Jerusalem minors “do not enjoy their enshrined rights” under the Israeli civilian court system, according to DCIP.
Out of 65 cases documented by DCIP in 2015, “more than a third of Jerusalem youth were arrested at night (38.5 percent), the vast majority (87.7 percent) were restrained during arrest, and only a slim minority of children (10.8 percent) had a parent or lawyer present during interrogation.”
Interrogations of Palestinian children can last up to 90 days according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, during which in addition to being beaten and threatened, cases of sexual assault, and placement in solitary confinement to elicit confessions are also often reported, while confession documents they are forced to sign are in Hebrew — a language most Palestinian children do not speak.
According to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, as of mid August, Israeli forces detained 560 children from occupied East Jerusalem alone since the beginning of 2016, and 110 minors were still being held in Israeli prisons, including four girls and 10 boys in juvenile detention centers.
According to Addameer, of the 7,000 Palestinians being held in Israeli custody, 250 were minors as of July.
According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, a report published by the office revealed that Israeli forces detained eight journalists, holding four in custody, and served a summons notice to one journalist.
Israeli authorities recently renewed the administrative detention of four journalists and the actual prison sentence of two journalists. It also documented five cases of abuses committed against detained journalists.
Additionally, it documented seven cases of injury, regarding four female journalists, involving gas grenades and fire.
Israeli forces also banned five journalists from covering events and travelling, one of them from Gaza.
The report also documented the closing of one local radio in the occupied West Bank, the raiding of two media institutions and the storming of nine houses where Palestinian journalists resided. It also reportedly seized media staff equipment.
Palestinian Photojournalist injured in Kafr Qaddum protest, forces raid East Jerusalem neighborhoods
QALQILIYA – A Palestinian photojournalist was injured by Israeli forces Firday afternoon, as dozens others suffered from tear gas inhalation during the weekly protest in the norther occupied West bank village of Kafr Qaddum.
Popular resistance coordinator in Kafr Qaddum Murad Shtewei told Ma’an that Israeli forces “assaulted” participants in the protest minutes after it began.
The soldiers injured photojournalist Nidal Shtayyah after hitting him with a tear gas canister in the back of his head. He was taken to Rafidia hospital for treatment.
Shtewei added that Israeli forces fired a barrage of tear gas, which landed mostly in surrounding homes, causing a family of five to suffer from tear gas inhalation, in addition to others participating in the protest, who were treated on the scene.
Residents of Kafr Qaddum began staging weekly protests in 2011 against land confiscations, as well as the closure of the village’s southern road by Israeli forces. The road, which has been closed 13 years, is the main route to the nearby city of Nablus, the nearest economic center.
Following similar clashes that broke out last month, Shtewei told Ma’an that more than 330 protests have been held over that period, during which time 84 protesters have been injured by live fire, including 12 children.
Some 120 others have been detained at protests and were subsequently held in Israeli custody for periods ranging between four and 24 months, Shtewei said, adding that they have paid fines totaling some 25,000 shekels (approximately $6,488).
Over the course of five years, an elderly protester was killed after suffering from excessive tear gas inhalation, one youth lost his eyesight, and another his ability to speak, he added.
Meanwhile, along with armed Israeli forces, Israeli Jerusalem municipality crews reportedly raided the occupied East Jerusalem villages of al-Isawyia and Silwan, where they delivered demolition orders and summons to local residents.
According to the Wadi Hilwah Information Center, Israeli forces accompanied municipality crews who raided the al-Bustan neighborhood in Silwan, where they hung demolition orders and warnings telling residents to “follow-up with the municipality on several buildings in the area.”
The forces reportedly took pictures of neighborhoos buildings and entrances of the neighborhood, and wrote tickets for parked cars.
Muhammad Abu al-Homos,a member of the al-Isawiya monitoring committee, said Israeli forces raided the village, searched a house, and patrolled the street ‘provocatively’. He added that the forces detained a teenager who was present in the area.
An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports of all three incidents in Kafr Qaddum, al-Isawiya and Silwan.
A Palestinian journalist checks damages after Israeli forces raided offices of local Palestinian Al-Khalil radio overnight in Hebron on November 21, 2015
HEBRON – Israeli forces raided and ransacked a Palestinian radio station early Wednesday morning in Dura City in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, detained five of the station’s employees, and ordered it closed for three months, amid a documented escalation of violations against media freedoms by Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided al-Sanabel radio station, destroyed its contents, and confiscated transmission and broadcast equipment.
Israeli forces left a closure order on the door of the radio station.
Locals added that Israeli forces detained head of the radio station Ahmad al-Darawish, as well as radio employees Muhammad al-Sus, Nidal Amro, Muntaser Nassar, and Hamed al-Nammura after raiding their homes.
Spokesperson for the Israeli army Avichay Adraee said in a statement in Arabic that Israeli forces, police, and civil administration authorities closed al-Sanabel upon a military order that claimed that the radio station broadcast programs inciting against Israel.
Adraee added that the five detainees were transferred for interrogation.
News of the closure came after Palestinian press freedoms watchdog MADA released a report on Saturday saying Israeli violations against media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory increased by 17 percent during the first half of 2016.
MADA General Director Moussa Rimawi said in the semi-annual report that while the total number of violations by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities declined from 224 cases in the first half of 2015 to 198 in the first half of this year — a rate of 12 percent — Israeli violations continued to climb, as Palestinian authorities committed 41 percent less violations during the same period.
A total of 133 violations committed by Israel were recorded during the period.
The most common types of violations committed by Israel were physical attacks, arrests, confiscation of equipment, prevention of coverage, and detentions.
The report highlighted that Israeli authorities in March closed two media institutions — Falastin al-Yawm and TransMedia Production Company — after ransacking and confiscated equipment from their offices.
Meanwhile, some 23 journalists and media workers were detained between January and June of 2016.
The report also noted an escalation of the Israeli practice of detaining Palestinians for social media activity, with Israeli authorities alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by “incitement.”
Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.
MADA said in the report that they were “gravely concerned regarding all systematic attacks and violence against journalists and media workers by the Israeli occupation, and urges state members to do their utmost to prevent violence against journalists, to ensure accountability, and bring to justice perpetrators of crimes against media freedoms.”
A file photo of a group of Palestinian youth after being treated for gunshot injuries by Israeli forces (Photo: BADIL)
BETHLEHEM – Two Palestinian youths were injured with live fire during clashes with Israeli soldiers in al-Duheisha refugee camp in southern Bethlehem early Friday morning, as reports emerged of an Israeli army commander making repeated threats in recent weeks to make “all youth in the camp disabled.”
Local sources said that two youths were shot and injured in the legs during clashes that erupted after Israeli forces raided the camp in Friday’s predawn hours.
Sources added that Israeli soldiers raided and searched the house of the incarcerated Palestinian Muhammad al-Seifi, detaining his mother and sister by locking them inside their home to pressure Muhammad’s younger brother Naba to turn himself into Israeli authorities.
Israeli forces also blew off the door of the Ibdaa Cultural Center near the entrance to the camp and occupied the rooftop of the building, from where Israeli snipers fired live ammunition and tear-gas canisters at local youth.
Violent clashes in al-Duheisha are common and break out nearly every time Israeli army forces enter the camp, which is located in Area A and should be under full Palestinian Authority control according to the Oslo agreements.
In a response to a request for comment, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that the Israeli army was not involved, and claimed Israeli border police were behind it, despite the area being located outside of police jurisdiction in Area A of the occupied West Bank.
When contacted by Ma’an, Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said he was not aware of the raid, saying it “made no sense” that police would be involved, and confirmed that al-Duheisha fell under the Israeli army’s jurisdiction in terms of raids. When contacted a second time, an Israeli army spokesperson insisted again that the army was not behind the raid and could not say who had been.
‘I will make all the youth of the camp disabled’
The clashes come in the wake of reports documented by BADIL, the Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, of an Israeli army commander making repeated threats during and after raids, and during interrogations, to disable all Palestinian youth in al-Duheisha.
The commander is reportedly responsible for the al-Duheisha area, and known to locals as “Captain Nidal.”
Local youth in al-Duheisha told BADIL that Captain Nidal has made statements such as: “I will make all the youth of the camp disabled,” “I will have all of you walking with crutches and in wheelchairs,” “I will make half of you disabled, and let the other half push the wheelchairs,” and “I will make all of you stand in line at the ATM waiting for your disability subsidies and assistance.”
One of the injured youth told BADIL that Captain Nidal told him to tell his friends that “Nidal will make all of you disabled.”
According to BADIL, which is based in Bethlehem, 30 Palestinians have been shot with live ammunition in the camp since the beginning of the year, the majority in their legs and knees.
They added that al-Duheisha had been raided at least three times by Israeli forces between the end of July and mid-August, during which time 18 Palestinian youth between 14 and 27 years old were shot in their legs — eight of which shot directly in the knee and several more in both legs — causing both permanent and temporary disabilities.
An Israeli army spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment on the reports of the threats made by the commander.
“These threats indicate that these actions are not accidental or isolated incidents, but rather result from a systematic Israeli military policy aimed at suppressing resistance, terrorizing Palestinian youth, and permanently injuring them and/or causing significant damage to their physical and mental well-being,” BADIL said in their statement.
The reported threats come amid what BADIL called an intensification of the “systematic targeting” of Palestinian youth in the occupied Palestinian territory — particularly in refugee camps — since the beginning of 2016.
“This targeting has taken the form of injuries and arbitrary killings by the use of live ammunition by the Israeli army in the context of arrest campaigns, military raids, and random wide searches which usually trigger clashes,” the statement said.
BADIL’s statement also highlight a recent Israeli military incursion in the Hebron-area refugee camp al-Fawwar that lasted some 20-hours, during which an unarmed Palestinian teen was shot dead and dozens others were hospitalized.
“These cases of intentional wounding, when added to the comparable actions happening in refugee camps such as Aida, al-Arroub, Qalandia, Amari, and the West Bank at large, prove that these incidents amount to a systematic policy and an implementation of Captain Nidal’s threats.”
“These willful and grave breaches of international law trigger the obligations of third party states and other mandated agencies to put an end to this climate of impunity under which Israeli forces and its officials operate.”
BADIL’s collection of testimonies came as the latest report amid years of well documented cases of abuse and mistreatment of Palestinian children by Israeli forces in the occupied territory, including in East Jerusalem, which is under Israeli police jurisdiction.
When writer Michael Chabon visited the West Bank city of Hebron earlier this year, the brutal reality of the Israeli occupation hit him with force. During an interview with the Forward, he appeared “visibly jarred,” and he pulled no punches in describing his reaction.
“Once you see for yourself,” he said, “it is pretty obvious, I think, to any human being with a heart and a mind, it is pretty clear what to feel about it. It is the most grievous injustice I have ever seen in my life.”
His reaction echoes in the words of another author, Ben Ehrenreich, who recently published a book about the occupation, “The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine.” In his introduction Ehrenreich refers to “the awful clarity of the injustice,” and his book portrays Palestinian resistance under Israel’s state-sponsored system of oppression.
Both these American writers are saying that the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli rule is clear to see, an obvious truth to anyone who witnesses the situation firsthand.
Now, as Peter Baker, the latest New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, takes up his post, we can ask whether the newspaper will begin to convey this reality to its readers. Will Baker, a fresh new witness with full access to the sites under occupation, give voice to the oppression seen with such clarity by Ehrenreich and Chabon?
Baker’s predecessor, Jodi Rudoren, who left Jerusalem late last year, filed hundreds of stories over nearly four years at the post and managed not to clarify but to obscure the reality of occupation and dispossession. Her stories promoted a narrative of Israeli victimhood and Palestinian violence and deflected Israeli culpability. (See TimesWarp 12-22-15.)
Many voices vied for attention during her stint, but Rudoren turned a deaf ear to some of the most respected sources of information, not only the United Nations and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch but also Israeli monitoring groups and courageous Israeli journalists. These groups and individuals were constantly documenting and reporting abuses by the Israeli forces, but the news they bore rarely found even brief mention in the Times.
When a series of stabbing and vehicular attacks on Israelis began last fall, several monitoring groups issued alerts, charging that Israeli forces were using the situation to conduct “street executions” of Palestinians who actually posed no threat.
These accusations were bolstered by video and eyewitness evidence and came from groups such as the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, Amnesty International and Euro-Med Monitor. To give even more weight to their claims, a group of nine Israeli organizations, including Physicians for Human Rights and the Public Committee Against Torture, issued a joint statement saying Israeli officials were responsible for the climate that fostered these executions.
The Times took little notice. The newspaper’s headlines remained focused on Palestinian attacks, and any quotes about extrajudicial executions were attributed to Palestinian officials, as if these charges were nothing more than the opinions of partisans taking one side in a bitter exchange.
Anticipating Baker’s arrival in Jerusalem, the Times produced a video featuring him in conversation with Rudoren and another former Jerusalem bureau chief, James Bennet. The trio made many references to “the conflict” (with only a single mention of the occupation), and they insisted that Times reporting strives to be balanced and neutral.
If reporters were sincerely looking for balance, however, it would seem that truly neutral parties, such as the United Nations and human rights organizations, would provide an essential antidote to the partisan claims of two adversaries. Yet the Times turns a deaf ear to these sources, no matter how fully documented their findings are, and relies heavily on Israeli officials.
Thus, Times readers are left in ignorance, hearing almost nothing about urgent and repeated appeals from these non-partisan groups. Beyond the latest accusations of extrajudicial killings, for instance, rights organizations have consistently highlighted the mistreatment of Palestinian children held in Israeli custody and the demolition of Palestinian structures, including everything from homes and workshops to cisterns and animal shelters.
Organizations such as UNICEF, Defence for Children International, Save the Children, B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, the UN Committee for the Rights of the Child and the Committee Against Torture in Israel have tried over several years to publicize the abuse of Palestinian children (See TW 1-13-14.), but the Times has rarely mentioned these reports and then only in stories aimed to spin the information in favor of Israel.
Throughout 2015 some of these groups continued to issue frequent reports and news releases with headlines such as “Rising physical violence against Palestinian child detainees,” “UNICEF report confirms ill-treatment of Palestinian child detainees remains systematic,” and “New U.S. government report highlights violations against Palestinian kids,” but the Times showed no interest in exploring the problem.
Likewise, Israel’s rampage of demolitions in the West Bank is never brought to the attention of Times readers although the United Nations, B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and other groups have issued frequent statements and demands, urging Israel to end its policy of destruction.
While the Times has remained silent, Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, columnists for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, have often written about the terrible toll demolitions have exacted from some of the most vulnerable Palestinian communities.
Rudoren wrote occasionally about punitive demolitions, the Israeli policy of destroying the family homes of attackers, but her stories omitted any mention of the much more common demolition of structures because they lack building permits, which are rarely issued.
The policy is a constant threat to Palestinians in a large part of the West Bank, and over the decades of occupation, the state has demolished more than 48,000 Palestinian homes and other structures.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel has destroyed 726 Palestinian structures so far this year, displacing 1,020 people. In a recent report, OCHA noted that during one week this month, 42 structures were demolished or confiscated. The report stated, “Twelve of the targeted structures had been previously provided as humanitarian assistance, including emergency shelters, animal sheds, latrines, a community centre, and a water connection; the confiscation of the latter means that nearly 1,000 Palestinians in five herding communities in the Jordan Valley will continue to suffer water scarcity.”
The OCHA report continued, “This brings the number of assistance items destroyed or confiscated since the start of 2016 to 200, almost double the figure for the entire 2015 (108).” In other words, donors such as the European Union and International Committee of the Red Cross have stepped in to provide tents and other items when Israel has destroyed Palestinian homes, schools, playgrounds, water wells and other structures, but the Israeli authorities have demolished even this humanitarian aid.
In this brief report from OCHA “the awful clarity of the injustice” is evident, as it has been evident in hundreds of other reports issued over the years. The rising tide of demolitions, with all its human-interest value, is most certainly newsworthy, but will the Jerusalem bureau of The New York Times report it?
So far the Times seems determined to muddy the waters, avoiding a clear exposition of Israeli brutality, but with a new bureau chief now on board, some readers may hold out a faint hope for change, for an honest and full accounting at last.
Unfortunately, here at TimesWarp, the expectation is for more of the same. It seems unlikely that the Times would allow any straightforward reporting on Israeli oppression to appear in its pages. This would destroy its carefully fostered narrative of Israeli victimhood, “ancient hatreds” and the need to place Israeli security needs above all.
Palestinian women prisoners are declaring their intention to launch a series of protests over mistreatment of their relatives during family visits, Ma’an News reported on Thursday. In particular, Riyad al-Ashqar of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies noted that family visits are frequently denied, cut short or delayed and visitors forced to undergo strip searches.
Lena Jarbouni, the elected representative of the 42 women held in HaSharon prison, stated that the women will protest so long as their families continue to experience lengthy waits in the sun, humiliating strip searches, repeatedly altered visitation schedules and prohibition of clothing for the prisoners and other necessary items. Several women prisoners, including Ansam Shawahneh, 19, have been completely denied family visits. There are currently approximately 60 Palestinian women held in HaSharon and Damon prisons.
On Thursday, Ofer Military Court ordered Taghreed al-Faqih, 44, from Dura near al-Khalil, imprisoned for two months and fined 5000 NIS (approximately $1100 USD) for “incitement.” Al-Faqih, the sister of Mohammed al-Faqih, extrajudicially executed by Israeli forces who bulldozed and fired a missile into his home, was arrested after her brother’s killing on 12 July 2016.
On Monday, 15 August, Randa Ahati of al-Khalil was released on bail to house imprisonment in her home in Yatta until her next court date. A former prisoner held for nearly four years in Israeli prison, she was arrested by occupation forces while traveling between Bethlehem and al-Khalil.
Sana Abdelrahman Nayef Abu Sneineh, 24, from Dura near al-Khalil, was released on 15 August after six months in administrative detention. She was arrested on 17 February by Israeli occupation soldiers invading her home in a pre-dawn raid, accusing her of posting “inciting” material on Facebook. She was ordered to three months’ administrative detention without charge or trial, which was then renewed for an additional three months.
Two women remain in administrative detention without charge or trial, among nearly 750 Palestinians in total: Sabah Feroun, imprisoned since 19 June after an invasion of her Jerusalem home by Israeli occupation forces and ordered to six months in administrative detention, and Haneen Abdelqader Amer, 39, from Tulkarem, imprisoned since 27 March and accused of “incitement” on social media but ordered imprisoned without charge or trial.