‘The politics of deflection’ (shoot the messenger, ignore the message) exposed
With obvious relish Richard Falk, former professor of international law at Princeton and UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Occupied Palestine, has issued a well deserved slap on the wrist to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for his naivety. It follows Israel’s furious reaction to Ban’s remark to the Security Council that “Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half-century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process”.
The usually timid Ban, suddenly emboldened, also called Israel’s illegal settlement building “an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community”. He added: “Security measures alone will not stop the violence. They cannot address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians – especially young people.” Whereupon Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu, fresh from approving another 150 squatter homes on stolen Palestinian land, accused the Secretary General of giving a “tailwind to terror”.
Falk penned an open letter to Ban reminding him of his earlier attempts to get Falk dismissed from his UN job for speaking the same truths. “Having read of the vicious attacks on you for venturing some moderate, incontestable criticisms of Israel’s behaviour, I understand well the discomfort you clearly feel. What intrigues and appals me is that while I was Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine during the period 2008-2014, you chose to attack me personally in public on several occasions, joining with US and Israel diplomats calling for my dismissal and doing the utmost to undermine my credibility while discharging this unpaid UN job under difficult conditions.
“At the time, I was doing my best to bear witness to some of the same truths about Israel’s unlawful and immoral behavior that recently got you in similar hot water. My UN mandate was to report upon the reality of Israeli violations of international law while sustaining their apartheid regime of oppressive control over the Palestinian people.”
Referring to Ban’s concern that we are reaching “a point of no return” for the two-state solution and his reminder to the Security Council that the UN will “continue to uphold the right of Palestinians to self-determination”, Falk warns that, given present realities, self-determination must be understood as something more than just “another delusionary embrace of a diplomatically negotiated two-state solution”.
He points out that Israel’s leaders want the idea of a Palestinian state abandoned altogether and that reliance on such a discredited diplomatic path [a two-state solution] has resulted over and over again in severe encroachments on occupied Palestine and intense suffering for its people. “Clinging to the two-state mantra is not neutral. Delay benefits Israel, harms Palestine. There is every reason to believe that this pattern will continue as long as Israel is not seriously challenged diplomatically and by the sorts of growing pressures mounted by the international solidarity movement and the BDS campaign.”
Around 90,000 Palestinians remain displaced in the Gaza Strip, almost 18 months after the ceasefire that ended Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ offensive in 2014. Furthermore, the reconstruction or repair of homes of 74 percent of displaced families is yet to even start.
According to UN OCHA, living conditions for the more than 16,000 displaced families are characterised by “overcrowding, limited access to basic services, lack of privacy, tensions with host communities, risks due to unexploded ordnance and exposure to adverse weather.”
By the end of January 2016, only 15 percent of displaced families had been able to return to repaired or reconstructed homes. The repair and reconstruction of an additional 2,000 homes is ongoing, with many of these homes nearing completion.
Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in July-August 2014 destroyed 11,000 homes and severely damaged or rendered uninhabitable an additional 6,800 homes.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On Tuesday, February 9, Israeli forces patrolled the Palestinian market in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), harassing and intimidating residents.
A group of soldiers marched through the souq, the main Palestinian market since the closure of Shuhada Street for Palestinians after the Ibrahimi mosque massacre in 1994. Any male adult or youth was stopped on their way to work and forced by the Israeli soldiers to lift up their shirts and trouser-pants, as well as throw their IDs on the ground. After throwing their IDs on the ground Israeli soldiers ordered the men to move back, so they could pick up the IDs from a ‘safe distance’. Most Palestinians were dismissed after this humiliating procedure, whereas some of them were detained for minutes or violently body-searched.
International human rights defenders documenting the Israeli forces violations of basic human rights of Palestinians, were intimidated and harassed by the Israeli soldiers in an attempt to prevent them from documenting. Soldiers took photos of the internationals with their private phones held right in the volunteers faces and as an intmidation tactic ID-checked them.
During the more than one hour patrol Israeli forces repeatedly pointed their assault rifles at the internationals as well as Palestinians.
Not only adults were surprised and shocked by the sudden presence of heavily-armed soldiers right outside their houses, but also children on their way to school and work. Some children, scared by the soldiers, turned around right away after spotting the soldiers and ran back home instead of continuing their way to school or kindergarten. International human rights defenders walked several scared children past the soldiers so they could safely reach their schools and kindergarten.
Nearly every western country has an Israel lobby
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom recently suggested an inquiry into a surge in Israel’s reported extra-judicial killing of Palestinian demonstrators after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a harsh response and told his police and soldiers that those opposed to the continued occupation of the West Bank were “terrorists.” Almost immediately, the Israeli government denounced Wallstrom as engaging in “political stupidity,” banning her from travel to Israel, while one newspaper close to the government suggested that she might be assassinated, as fellow Swede Count Folke Bernadotte was by Jewish militants in 1948, because anti-Semitism appears to be in the Swedish DNA.
All of that outrage and personal ridicule is pro forma for an Israeli government that reflexively smears and denigrates any and all critics, but the more interesting epilogue was the unanticipated discovery by the Swedish and international media that Wallstrom has not been paying the full rent on the subsidized government apartment that she occupies. The revelation follows a familiar pattern, where critics of Israel suddenly find themselves being discredited for something completely unrelated to the Middle East. President George H. W. Bush (the good Bush) suffered a similar come to Jesus moment in 1991 when he went on national television to denounce the pressure tactics of the Israel lobby. The Israeli government was demanding U.S. Treasury backed loans to construct illegal settlements. President Bush, who was running for reelection and far ahead in the opinion polls, suddenly was confronted by a well-funded and organized opposition raising doubts about him and his record. And President Bush was not reelected, presumably learning along the way that one does not trifle with the Israel Lobby, to be replaced by the enthusiastically Zionist Bill Clinton.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also wondering about Israel’s alleged commitment to peace. On Tuesday he said “it was human nature to react to occupation,” following up with a comment on Wednesday regarding Israel’s “stifling” occupation of Palestine. Netanyahu reacted with his usual over the top rhetoric, stating that Ban “was encouraging terror.” One might also anticipate, as in the case of Wallstrom, a well-orchestrated media blitz questioning Ban’s motives or explaining how he has always been a closet anti-Semite. It is par for the course and fully expected when one criticizes Israel.
Indeed, it is a global phenomenon. Wherever one goes – Western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States – there is a well-organized and funded lobby ready, willing and able to go to war to protect Israel. Most of the organizations involved take at least some direction from officials in Tel Aviv. Many of them even cooperate fully with the Israeli government, its parastatal organizations and faux-NGOs like the lawfare center Shurat HaDin. Their goal is to spread propaganda and influence the public in their respective countries of residence to either hew to the line coming out of Tel Aviv or to confuse the narrative and stifle debate when potential Israeli crimes are being discussed.
Israel’s diaspora allies are backed up by a formidable government organized machine that spews out disinformation and muddies the waters whenever critics surface. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has a corps of paid “volunteers” who monitor websites worldwide and take remedial action and there is a similar group working out of the Prime Minister’s office. That is why any negative story appearing in the U.S. about Israel is immediately inundated with pro-Israel comments, many of which make exactly the same coordinated points while exhibiting the same somewhat less than perfect English. On sites like Yahoo they are actually able to suppress unwelcome comments by flooding the site with “Dislike” responses. If a comment receives a large number of dislikes, it is automatically blocked or removed.
The sayanim, local Jews in their countries of residence, are essential to this process, having been alerted by emails from the Israeli Foreign Ministry about what to do and say. The reality is that Israel has lost the war of public opinion based on its own actions, which are becoming more and more repressive and even inhumane and so are difficult to explain. That means that the narrative has to be shifted by Israel’s friends through subterfuge and the corruption of the information process in each country. In some places the key media and political players who are engaged in the process can simply be bought. In other places they can be intimidated or pressured into taking positions that are neither in their own countries’ interests nor morally acceptable. In large countries like the United States, Britain and France a combination of friendly suasion and coercive elements often come together.
In all cases, the objective is the same: to repress or misrepresent any criticism of Israel and to block any initiatives that might be taken that would do damage either to the Israeli economy or to the country’s perceived standing in the world. In some countries Israel’s advocates work right out in the open and are highly successful in implementing policies that often remain largely hidden but that can be discerned as long as one knows what to look for.
Recent Israel Lobby activity in the United States has included legislation at state levels to make illegal divestment from Israel or to promote boycott of Israeli products. A trade pact with Europe will reportedly include language requiring the United States to take retaliatory action if any European country tries to boycott Israel, to include the West Bank settlements, which the empowering legislation regards as part of Israel proper.
Israel is also working to create a mechanism for global censorship of the internet to ban “incitement,” which clearly is a euphemism for material that is critical of its policies. Recently Facebook has begun to delete from its site any “hate speech” and “terrorism” related material but what has not been widely noted is that the apparent restrictions also have involved sites critical of Israel including Christians United for Peace.
Many prominent critics of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) are unaware that AIPAC exists in various forms in a number of other countries. BICOM , the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is located in London. The French equivalent is the Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF). In Canada there is a Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) , in Australia a Zionist Federation of Australia and in New Zealand a Zionist Federation of New Zealand .
While AIPAC is specifically focused on the U.S.-Israel relationship, its counterparts in Europe often deal with a whole range of issues that they define as Jewish, but protecting Israel is always part of their agenda, particularly for those groups that label themselves as Zionist. The political power and financial muscle of the groups gives them access to government far beyond the actual numbers of their supporters. In France this has led to the legislation of hate crimes that de facto exist to protect Jews that have also been interpreted as limitations on one’s ability to criticize Israel. In its most recent test, a French court declared that a peaceful protest promoting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) directed against Israel was illegal.
Many believe that France now has less free speech than any other European country. Recently, the alleged humor magazine Charlie Hebdo, ran a revolting cartoon showing the little Syrian boy Alan Kurdi who drowned in Turkey last summer as all grown up and sexually assaulting a woman in Germany. There was considerable outrage throughout the world but no sign that the French government will do anything to prosecute the magazines since it was Muslims who were being ridiculed. Charlie Hebdo frequently insults Muslims (and also Christians) but rarely lampoons Jews.
In Britain, Jewish organizations uniquely are allowed to patrol heavily Jewish neighborhoods in police-like uniforms while driving police type vehicles and there have been reports of their threatening Muslims who enter the areas. Prime Minister David Cameron’s government, which is responsive to a Conservative Friends of Israel lobbying group, has also done its part to create official barriers to any spread of the BDS movement. It is proposing legislation that will enable it to overrule decisions by local government councils that seek to cut business or investment ties with Israel and, more particularly, Israeli settlements, under the pretext that such action interferes with the conduct of foreign affairs. The British government is also considering its own brand of hate speech legislation, banning from social media any commentary that is considered to be anti-Semitic, which will almost certainly extend to criticism of Israel.
Canada’s government has also threatened to use hate speech laws to block criticism of Israel and forbid BDS related activity. Australia meanwhile, has ceased referring to east Jerusalem as “occupied” and is apparently leaning towards similar “non-pejorative” language relating to the militarized occupation of the West Bank, preferring the neocon favored dodge “disputed.” New Zealand has proposed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that specifically demand that participants “refrain from referring a situation… to the International Criminal Court,” which would effectively decriminalize war crimes committed by both sides during the two recent invasions of Gaza. As a United Nations investigation determined that Israel was disproportionately responsible for what did occur, the proposal eliminates accountability and is effectively a get out of jail free card for some Israeli government officials.
And so it goes. Criticize Israel and there will be a comeuppance by virtue of a highly developed international system that relies on government direction as well as volunteer supporters who are able to shape both the media message and the political response. Accepting that as a given, I suppose one should be proud of being called an anti-Semite every time the label is misapplied to stifle dissent, but it all sadly reflects a lowering of the discussion to a dirt level. This might just be because there is no justification for Israeli behavior. The fact is that in terms of systematic human rights violations Israel is something beyond an apartheid state, frequently engaging in open racism and, in the opinion of many observers, crimes against humanity. It is furthermore a persistent source of instability in the Middle East and even beyond.
Israel is a liability to the United States and to the European nations that it has successfully manipulated into acquiescence regarding its bad behavior. When AIPAC and its overseas clones act for Israel the host nations in which these organizations exist should recognize exactly what is taking place. … Full article
The newspaper had plenty to say about Israeli Jewish life, however: two lengthy stories about prayer space at the Western Wall and one discussing Zionism. Each of these stories ran over a thousand words.
Two shorter news articles reported that the murderers of a Palestinian teen had been sentenced to prison and that a knife attack left one Israeli police officer dead, but nothing in either of these provided the context crucial to understanding events in the occupied territories.
Meanwhile, as the Times obsesses over Israeli identity and attitudes, the occupation grinds on, producing news that appears elsewhere. At the top of the list were two major stories: A Palestinian prisoner was near death after passing his 75th day on hunger strike, and Israeli forces carried out a massive demolition of over 20 homes, rendering more than 100 Palestinians homeless in the dead of winter.
The ordeal of Mohammed al-Qeeq, a journalist held without trial since Nov. 21 of last year, drew the attention of Israeli and international media outlets, which recounted his legal appeals, protests on his behalf and an Israeli Supreme Court decision which “froze” his detention but confined him to a hospital. (Al-Qeeq refused the offer and continued his fast.)
Al-Qeeq’s hunger strike was deemed unfit to print in the Times, perhaps because it would touch on Israel’s use of administrative detention, which holds prisoners without trial. Readers are not to know that as of last December 660 Palestinians were held in this limbo, nor were they to be informed that a number of human rights groups have protested Israel’s unsavory use of the practice.
And then there is the matter of two impoverished villages in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank, Khirbet Jenbah and Khirbet Al-Halawah, which were made even more destitute after Israeli army crews arrived last Tuesday and demolished 22 structures, displacing 110 people, including dozens of minors. The army also confiscated solar panels, which, like many of the homes, had been donated by aid organizations.
The military claimed that it destroyed Jenbah and Al-Halawah because they were located in a declared firing zone. The Israeli publication 972 Magazine, however, noted that “Jewish settlements within [the zone] have not been served with eviction orders.”
This was the largest mass demolition in a decade, and the plan to destroy villages within the firing zone has drawn international attention and a petition from world-renowned authors to spare the communities. None of this, however, was enough to draw the interest of the Times.
Instead, the Times considered it more urgent to examine the effects of a new prayer space at the Western Wall—not once, but twice—and to take a look at Zionism today. Villagers thrown out in the cold of winter and a prisoner on the brink of death took a back seat to these concerns.
The Times claims that it gives readers “the complete, unvarnished truth as best as we can learn it,” and it insists that the newspaper’s overriding goal is to “cover the news as impartially as possible.” Readers who never stray to other sources of information may actually believe this.
Benjamin Netanyahu revealed on Sunday that he will be discussing possible legal action against Arab members of the Knesset with the attorney general after they visited the families of Palestinians killed by Israel to discuss the release of their bodies for burial. The Israeli prime minister described the MKs as “terrorism advocates” whom he wishes to have removed from parliament.
“Members of the Knesset who go to comfort the families of terrorists who murdered Israelis do not deserve to be in the Israeli Knesset,” Netanyahu said on Thursday. “I have asked the Speaker of the Knesset to examine what steps can be taken against them.” On Sunday, he submitted a formal complaint to the Knesset Ethics Committee against Arab Joint List MKs Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoubi and Basil Ghattas, all members of the Balad bloc.
Also on Thursday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said, “It is inconceivable that at a time when innocent citizens are being slaughtered on the streets of Israel, these MKs go to console the families of the murderers and with unbelievable insolence dare to bring the families’ demands to the government.” He pointed out that his call for Israelis to lodge complaints against the MKs was met with a broad response; 200 have been received.
The MKs in question responded forcefully to the criticism: “As soon as Netanyahu understood that there was no legal or criminal offence involved in our meeting, he tried to turn the empty hype into a political gain for himself by submitting a draft bill to remove the Arab minority’s political representatives.” The prime minister, they added, knows very well that the meeting was intended to discuss the release of the bodies.
A cleaning service in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv faces criticism for its pricing scheme that varies based on the ethnicity of the housekeepers.
In what has been described as “blatant racism,” the flyers circulating in an affluent neighborhood offers a “solution” to hiring “illegal foreign workers,” for those who don’t want to hire an “Arab cleaner for security reasons”.
“Are you tired of hiring illegal foreign workers and getting fined? Are you tired of employing according to the law and being sued by temporary workers? There is a solution,” the ad reads.
The flyers offer “legal only” cleaners and lists the different prices.
Africans are the cheapest at $12.60 per hour, followed by eastern Europeans and eastern Europeans with Israeli citizenship, who cost $17.70 per hour.
Arab cleaners are not on the menu – and neither are Israelis.
The cleaners are referred to in the feminine form throughout, so no male cleaners are thought to be on offer either.
News organization Mako spoke to someone from the company who confirmed that the ads were not a joke and said “eastern Europeans work better.”
A flyer was shared on Facebook by journalist and blogger Tal Schneider.
“Blatant racism permeates Israeli society,” she said.
Israel’s new chief military censor has demanded that popular bloggers writing on security-related issues submit their posts to her before publication. Failure to do so will be considered a crime. Critics say the move is Orwellian.
The expansion of the IDF’s censorship scope was first revealed by one of the bloggers targeted, Yossi Gurvitz. He runs a Facebook page called “George’s Friends” – a title alluding to writer George Orwell – which has over 10,000 subscribers.
This week he tweeted that the IDF’s former spokesperson, who was appointed chief censor less than a year ago, has ordered that he submit his posts for prepublication review.
The message was sent from her private Facebook account, which has no status updates of its own, and Gutvitz initially thought it was a prank, he told the Calcalist business daily. He said he had no intention to obey the order and is reviewing his legal options.
Some 30 Israeli bloggers received similar notifications from the IDF, according to the Times of Israel. Many people online and some Israeli politicians have criticized the expansion of censorship.
“Under the cover of darkness, there is no limit to the expansion of Big Brother,” Ilan Gilon, a member of the Israeli parliament from the left-wing Meretz party, told Calcalist. “It recalls [the dystopian novel] ‘1984.’ I’ve asked for a debate to understand what the boundaries of censorship are and how far they can go. Am I also subject to censorship when I talk to you? This is totally unacceptable.”
The military censor is part of the IDF’s Directorate of Military Intelligence. It has the authority to prevent any information being published by the media and can even shut down outlets without any explanation – and has a record of doing so. This power can only be used during a state of emergency, but the Jewish state has been living under one since its establishment in 1948.
Previously censorship was applied only to established media outlets, book publishers and organizations such as emergency services and front-line community councils. Some blogger posts were subjected to military censorship in the past, but only after publication.
The move may be blowback from the greater recognition of blogging in Israel as a form of media. Since 2012, Israel’s Government Press Office has been issuing bloggers with press cards that give them the same kind of status as journalists employed by recognized media outlets.
“Now, after they managed to make one government office recognize them as journalists, they can only blame themselves when other officials accept them as such too. Journalists don’t only have rights, but also duties, and in Israel one of these duties is working with the censors,” a lawyer who specializes in media regulations told the Haaretz newspaper.
Many Israeli activists, however, see it as a sign of creeping assaults on civil liberties under the conservative cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Last month, a censorship scandal shook the country after the Education Ministry banned high schools from teaching an award-winning novel about a love affair between a Jewish woman and a Palestinian man.
The ministry explained that depiction of “intimate relations between Jews and non-Jews threaten the separate identity of each sector.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett defended the move, saying that exposing high school students to a book that “depicts IDF soldiers as sadistic war criminals” was not a national priority.
A video showing mixed Jewish-Arab couples kissing, which was posted online in a protest against the ban, mysteriously disappeared from Facebook after going viral.
South Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine – Yesterday, on Saturday February 6th, we visited the house of 49 year old, Salah Abukaf, who lives in the neighborhood of Sur Baher in occupied South Jerusalem, and two days ago received a house demolition order.
Salah Abukaf’s home
Last year, on September 13th, a 68 year old illegal Israeli settler died in a car accident near Abukaf’s home. The Israeli police first said that this was a regular car accident, but then decided to accuse his 18 year old son, Mohammed Abukaf, together with 4 other friends, all between 17 and 19 years of age, Walid al Atrash, Abed Dweyad, Jihad Tawil, and Ali Sabra, of throwing stones to the car and creating the accident.
At approximately 3 in the morning on September 24 and again on September 25, the Israeli police violently raided the homes of these five young men and arrested them. The police also confiscated their Jerusalem ID’s, which poses a serious problem because when Palestinian’s lose their Jerusalem ID they lose their right to live there and all other residents’ rights. These arrests were carried out despite the fact that the Israeli police have not yet presented evidence of them throwing stones at the car.
According to Salah Abukaf, the five young men were sitting in a place 500 meters away from the car at the moment of the accident, and denies the claims that his son threw stones. “They are accusing my son of things he didn’t do.”
Salah Abukaf talks in an interview for Ma’an news.
Salah’s wife is suffering with this situation and couldn’t help crying in her interview.
On Friday, February 5th, the Israeli police gave home demolition orders to three of the young men’s homes, for Mohammed Abukaf, Walid al Atrash and Abed Dweyad. According to these orders, the families have up to the 10th of February to make an appeal to the court. Nonetheless, the families say that according to the way Israeli authorities normally behave, they are afraid that when waiting for the court’s answer to their appeals, the Israeli forces will come to demolish their houses anyway, making their efforts futile.
Israeli forces came into Abukaf’s house and drilled holes into the walls. The family suspects they were measuring how thick the walls are in order to dynamite the house.
Another hole in the main room’s wall.
In the meantime, the family of Salah Abukaf is paying 50.000 shekels, Walid al Atrash 60.000 shekels and Abed Dweyad 75.000 shekels to cover their lawyers’ expenses to fight their cases in the court. These families already suffer from bad financial situations and paying these amounts of money is a big burden for them.
Abukaf explains; “If I knew my son had done something wrong, then I would be willing to accept this, but what the Israeli authorities are doing is simply collective punishment. It is illegal under International Law that they destroy my family’s home where my children live. Where are we going to go now?”
8 year old Hala, on the right side, and 9 year old Hadeel on the left, are the two youngest living in this home.
Mohammed’s sister, 17 year old Ala’.
In Walid al Atrash’s house, a total of 8 people, including his two parents and five siblings, will be left homeless if their home is demolished.
Abed Dweyad’s home includes a total of seven people, with his two parents and four siblings, will be left homeless as well if their house is demolished.
It is important to note that this event is happening following Israel’s master plan to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from Jerusalem. The objective of this plan is to reduce today’s 37% Palestinian population to 20% by the year 2020, and allow for 80% of its total population to be Israeli Jewish.
Israeli Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz has said that Egypt’s new policy of flooding the tunnels between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula with seawater had come at Israel’s request.
“Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is flooding the tunnels on his country’s border with the Gaza Strip with water based on a request by Israel,” Steinitz said at a seminar held Saturday in the southern city of Beer Sheva, according to Israel Radio.
“Security coordination between the two countries [Israel and Egypt] is better than ever,” the minister said at the seminar, at which participants discussed the relationship between the two neighbors.
In recent months, the Egyptian army has begun flooding the network of cross-border tunnels linking Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip with seawater.
Subject to a years-long blockade by Israel and Egypt, the Hamas-run Gaza Strip had come to depend on the tunnel network to import desperately-needed commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.
Steinitz is particularly close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is a member of the latter’s influential security cabinet.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Since the 1st of November 2015 the Tel Rumeida area and Shuhada Street in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron) has been declared a ‘closed military zone’. The first declaration of the closure was for one month, but since then the order has been extended several times.
The newest order from the 1st of February declares the area as closed till the 1st of March with the chance of extension.
Shuhada Checkpoint (Checkpoint 56)
The closure effects the residents of the area every single day. Every family living in the area has been given a number and was forced to register with the Israeli forces. When entering the area, through checkpoints, the residents have to show ID, give their number and often also answer questions and get bag and body searched. Friends and family of the residents are unable to visit them inside the area; even doctors or craftsmen are completely barred from entering the area.
Furthermore, the closed military zone has led to the eviction of two human rights organisations based in Tel Rumeida. These are now banned from living in their houses and working from their offices and since they are banned from the whole area are not able to observe and document the rampant Israeli human rights violations. The ‘closed military zone’ clearly intends to evict Palestinian residents in order to allow for an expansion of the illegal Israeli settlements, and by evicting human rights defenders to silence the truth on the Israeli forces harassment, attacks and human rights violations.
New Israeli movement Save Jewish Jerusalem has called for the building of a wall encircling 28 Palestinian villages in East Jerusalem in order to preserve the city’s Jewish identity, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported on Friday.
According to Quds Press, which reported on the news published in Maariv, Save Jewish Jerusalem was set up by the former Cabinet minister Haim Ramon, alongside a number of former political, security and military officials.
Maariv noted that the movement does not belong to a certain political faction.
The manifesto’s authors explain that by removing some 200,000 Palestinians from the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, the city’s Jews will constitute more than 80% of its residents, and the percentage of Palestinians will drop to less than 20%, from the nearly 40% today.
After the villages’ separation from Jerusalem, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and other security agencies would operate in them the way they currently do in the rest of the West Bank, according to the manifesto.