This is a roundup of news related to Palestine with a particular focus on grassroots action and peaceful civil disobedience in the Occupied Territories and within the borders of Israel proper.
We use the name Filasṭīn, since that is the pronunciation preferred by Arabic speakers (irrespective of faith) for their homeland.
For one Palestinian village: A judge, settler and demolisher
(story in +972mag)
>The High Court justice who gave the army a green light to expel an entire Palestinian village just happens to live in a nearby settlement, one of many that thrives on their dispossession.
Justice Sohlberg, who is the most prominent yet not the only settler on the bench, is the standard bearer of a pre-eminent Western judicial tradition, which hails back and openly draws on colonialism. The tenets of that tradition are to exclude “the natives” from decision-making circles as well as to dispense them of the basic democratic principle of the separation of powers. Sohlberg finds himself in the company of the American Supreme Court judges who, in 1857, ruled that African-Americans could not be considered American citizens, as well as those who, a century later, championed the “separate but equal” paradigm.
Soldier pays the price for criticizing the Israel army
(article in Haaretz)
IDF soldier Shachar Berrin was sentenced to a week in prison after he attended the taping of an international TV program, during which he stood up and expressed his opinion of the occupation.
The proposition debated by the panel appearing on the show was: “The occupation is destroying Israel.” The speakers consisted of the settler-activist Dani Dayan and a member of the left-wing Meretz party, Uri Zaki. Berrin, who was in uniform, stood up to address Dayan. The settlers and right-wing activists in the audience filmed him, and in less than 12 hours he was ordered to return to his base, where he was tried and convicted – even before the program was broadcast. (It aired this week.) Berrin makes his comment at minute 43 of the hour-long show.
This whole incident shows that when rapid, determined action is called for, the Israel Defense Forces knows how to act. When soldiers kill Palestinian children, the investigation is stretched out over years, gathering dust before usually going nowhere. When soldiers are filmed holding abusive slogans, or when they identify publicly with “David Hanahalawi” – the soldier from the Nahal Brigade who threatened a Palestinian youth with his rifle and roughed him up a year ago, prompting hundreds of soldiers to express solidarity with him on the social networks – no one considers putting them on trial. But if a soldier dares to attest publicly that his fellow soldiers are humiliating Palestinians, the IDF mobilizes rapidly to trample, punish and silence. That’s what happened to Shachar Berrin.
Berrin: “Sure. Definitely. Just the other week, when some Border Police soldiers were rough with Christian tourists, another soldier, a colleague, said she couldn’t believe what they were doing: ‘I mean, come on, they are people, not Palestinians.' I think that resonates throughout the occupied territories. I serve in the Jordan Valley, and we see every day how soldiers… look at these people not as human beings, not as someone who is equal, but someone who is less than them. And to think that we can just leave the racism and the xenophobia – that they will only be racist when they humiliate Palestinians – of course not… I think that once you are conditioned to think something, you bring it back with you and that it deeply affects Israeli society and causes it, as our president says, to be more racist.”
Israel knew all along that settlements, home demolitions were illegal
(article in Haaretz)
It was March 1968. Yaakov Herzog, director-general of the Prime Minister's Office, received a memo marked "Top Secret" from the Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser, Theodor Meron. As the government's authority on international law, Meron was responding to questions put to him about the legality of demolishing the homes of terror suspects in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and of deporting residents on security grounds.
His answer: Both measures violated the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in war. The government's justifications of the measures – that they were permitted under British emergency regulations still in force, or that the West Bank wasn't occupied territory – might have value for hasbara, public diplomacy, but were legally unconvincing.
The memo is not the first evidence of Meron's warnings, though. In 2006, I published another of his legal opinions, which I found in the late Prime Minister Levi Eshkol's declassified office files. Written in mid-September of 1967, about three months after the Six-Day War, it responds to a query from Eshkol's bureau about the legality of establishing settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights.
He answered, "My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention."
Central figures in Israel’s government at the time – Eshkol, Foreign Minister Abba Eban, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Justice Minister Yaakov Shimshon Shapira – all received that legal advice. A week and a half later, the cabinet approved settlement in the West Bank for the first time.
World Bank: Gaza facing ‘dangerous fiscal crisis’
(article at Times of Israel)
The Gaza Strip has the world’s highest unemployment rate, and Palestinians, Israelis and donors must take action to avoid a “dangerous fiscal crisis,” the World Bank said Friday.
According to the World Bank, the virtual disappearance of Gaza’s exports can be explained by no other variable than “war and the blockade".
“The impact of the blockade imposed in 2007 was particularly devastating, with GDP losses caused by the blockade estimated at above 50 percent and large welfare losses,” the report said of the blockade imposed by neighbors Israel and Egypt.
Segregation in Israel does not begin or end on buses
(article in +972mag)
As long as there is occupation there will be segregation. As long as the State of Israel interprets being a “Jewish state” as meaning some citizens should have more individual and group rights than others, then discrimination, segregation and inequality will be the norm, not the exception.A more in-depth diary on bus segregation: Israel "suspends" segregation on buses after global uproar calling it apartheid
Issues like bus segregation get people angry. Activists start to plan freedom rides and massive campaigns, the international media starts to pay attention, and it seems that, for a fleeting moment, people care about the fate of Palestinians living under occupation. Until that same energy and anger and mobilization materializes around the occupation itself, against the concept of institutionalized supremacy and oppression, there will only be more symptoms over which to feign outrage.
For Jerusalem's Palestinians, a city of poverty and division
(report from Association for Civil Rights in Israel and reporting at +972mag)
More than one quarter of Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents live behind the concrete separation barrier; Israel has revoked the residency of over 14,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites since ‘reunifying’ the city in 1967, including 107 last year alone.
At least five children from East Jerusalem, the youngest among them aged 6, were hit in the face by a sponge bullet and lost vision in one of their eyes. A 30-year-old man, who was blind in one eye since childhood, lost his healthy eye after being hit by a sponge-tipped bullet and became completely blind. In other incidents, the firing of sponge bullets caused arm fractures, jaw fractures and a spleen tear. At least three journalists covering the events, who were wearing vests identifying them as media workers, were hit by sponge bullets in the head, face and shoulder.
Testimonies indicate that in a various instances, police officers fired sponge bullets in absolute contravention of the directives prohibiting aiming at the upper body or aiming at children.
ACRI appealed to the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General, demanding an
immediate end to the use of the black sponge bullets until further review of the reasonableness of their use as a riot-control weapon, in light of the severe injuries caused to residents of East Jerusalem.
Over the summer, ACRI received testimonies of severe physical violence by the police, aimed against those participating in riots as well as against uninvolved Palestinian residents. The violence used was at times so severe that residents required medical treatment and even prolonged hospitalization. In July 2014, the media published a video showing Border Police officers severely and brutally beating the teenager Tariq Abu Khdeir while he was lying handcuffed on the ground.
Palestinian teenagers who were arrested reported physical violence used against them by police officers on the way to interrogation and during the interrogation, as well as threats and intimidation; unnecessary handcuffing and blindfolding for long hours; interrogations without parental presence, in contravention of the law; and various forms of abuse, such as denying food and water and prohibiting toilet breaks.
In addition, several incidents were reported in which the police detained minors under the age of 12, which is the age of criminal responsibility.
Another innovation that was introduced during the summer of 2014 was the frequent use of Skunk-spraying vehicles by police. The Skunk is an extremely foul-smelling chemical liquid, intended to disperse riots.
Police use of the Skunk in East Jerusalem included many incidents of excessive and unreasonable use in the heart of crowded neighborhoods. Even when the Skunk is aimed at riot participants, it sticks to houses, cars and asphalt and leaves a fetid scent from which all of the neighborhood’s residents continue to suffer for many days.
In the period of turmoil between July and December 2014, 1,184 Palestinians were arrested in East Jerusalem, about one-third of them under the age of 18 (a total of 406 minors), for offenses related to riots and disruption of public order (stone throwing, assaulting an officer, participating in riots and so on).+972mag reported on yet another case earlier this week:
So far, indictments have been served against 338 of those arrested (28.5% of all arrestees), including 122 minors (30% of all minors arrested).
Israeli Police wounded a 10-year-old Palestinian child in the eye Thursday afternoon while dispersing protesters near the Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, according to Arabic media outlets in East Jerusalem. The boy, who was most likely hit by a black-tipped sponge bullet, was hospitalized in moderate condition in Hadassah University Hospital. It is unclear what will be the fate of his eye.
'Death to Israel' Facebook page lands Palestinian in jail
(story in Haaretz)
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court sentenced East Jerusalem resident Sami Deis to eight months in prison, for creating and managing a Facebook page entitled “Death to Israel,” which included many incitement-filled posts. The sentence follows similar punishment handed down to Fatah activist Omar Shalabi; he was given nine months imprisonment for similar crimes.No word yet on whether the Israelis posting and chanting "Death to Arabs" will also be prosecuted. For example, the ones chanting it here, posting on FB here, here or here, or here, here or here. Israeli police don't seem too concerned about incidents IRL either, for example the people who scrawled "death to arabs" on cars and buildings, chanted it in Jerusalem, or the ones who sprayed it on a Arab-Jewish school in Jerusalem. One guy who shouted it before stabbing a Palestinian was arrested. But Israeli prosecutors do not seem to be in much of a hurry to find and prosecute the individual who tweeted:
Deis, a 27-year-old resident of Shoafat, has no criminal background, and though he admitted to his crimes as part of a plea bargain, Judge Shmuel Herbst opted for what is seen as a rather severe punishment. Last week, another East Jerusalem resident, 44-year-old Omar Shalhabi was handed nine months for a number of Facebook statuses he wrote between July and October last year.
#ZionStandUp for Israeli @ashlisade: "Kill Arab children so there won't be a next generation" https://t.co/... pic.twitter.com/2hSZAwyMuJ
Treating the still-open wound of contested Arab homes in Jaffa
(article in Haaretz)
It all began on Yom Kippur in September 2009. A phone conversation between Tovi Fenster and her mother touched on the period of the family’s immigration from Romania to Israel in 1948, and the house where they lived in Jaffa until the 1960s.
During that phone call, her mother related for the first time how she and a group of other immigrants were sent by the Jewish Agency to find a home for themselves. They walked among the houses that had been abandoned in Jaffa, which borders on Tel Aviv, and from which Arabs had been forced to flee during the War of Independence. When they found one with the door open, they went in and took up residence there.
Fenster asked her mother why she had never told her this before, and her mother replied that she didn’t feel comfortable with everything that had happened – “that we had taken from them what was theirs.” She added that after all the tribulations the family had experienced until they reached Israel, all they wanted was a home of their own.
WATCH: 'Jaffa flotilla' marks destruction of Palestine's cultural capital
(Video and article at +972mag)
Dozens of Palestinians and Israeli Jews sailed along the coast last week to mark the destruction of Jaffa — the former political, cultural and economic capital of Palestine — during the 1948 War. Organized by the Israeli NGO Zochrot, which works to raise awareness of the Nakba and promote the right of return among Israeli Jews, the participants, which included Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi, listened to first-hand stories of the fear, expulsions and mass exodus of Palestinians from the city by the pre-state Zionist militias.
A lesbian wedding in Israel: Under the chuppah, legal or not
(story in Haaretz)
Let’s get together: The two met nine years ago when, through the twists and fate of life, they found themselves sitting in the same car, on their way from the north to a gay party in Tel Aviv. Inbal: “I got into the back seat, and then someone in the passenger’s seat turned around and said, ‘Nice to meet you, I’m Avishag.’ I said ‘hi’ and stuttered something. I think I immediately wanted what I saw – it was just 'snap,' and it was there.” However, it took four years for something to come out of that “snap.”
At first, head-over-heels Inbal did all she could to win the heart of the elusive Avishag, to no great success. For Inbal, the long courtship felt like she was being played, while Avishag saw it a bit differently: “I wasn’t out of the closet yet, and I was confused, and just out of a relationship. I didn’t know if I wanted boys, girls, or what was up with me.”
Word in the ear: Inbal on the couple’s choice to have a kind of chuppah, despite the illegality of same-sex marriage in Israel: “For the symbolism. Because we’re still Jewish, and we still love the State of Israel, and Judaism is our home.” Avishag: “But not in the way it’s being implemented.”
More stories below the fold:
- Palestinian chief negotiator: No chance of renewing talks with radical right Netanyahu government
- Netanyahu: Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people alone
- Abbas responds to Netanyahu: No Mideast peace without East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital
- Israel's new deputy foreign minister: 'This land is ours. All of it is ours'
- PHOTOS: When Israel decides to cut Palestinian farmers off from their land
- “…but still with a few hope in our hearts”
- Right-wing Jews and Israeli police 'assault Al-Aqsa guards'
- Hundreds of unarmed demonstrators confront live fire at Kafr Qaddum on Nakba Day
- South African students protest against Woolworths
- South African Jews apologize to displaced Palestinians
- Rightist NGO demands eviction of seven Palestinian families
- Arab leaders pledge all-out campaign against destruction of Bedouin village
- PA soccer chief looks to outmaneuver Israel on diplomatic field
- IDF to disband Druze battalion after more than 40 years’ service
- On Scott Walker’s 'listening tour' of Israel, Palestinians aren’t heard
- What Ayelet Shaked can learn from Sarah Palin
- In Adelson's paper, Bibi's man says Pope helping Palestinians crucify the Jews
- Settler leader Rabbi Moshe Levinger dies at 80
- Western Wall gender barriers locked to stop women reading from Torah
- Haredi website censors female ministers from government picture
- Thousands attend prayer protest against Shabbat-violating mall in Ashdod
- Concern in Jerusalem over international decision against Israeli nuclear program
- Clashes erupt between Jews, Palestinians at Jerusalem Day march
- Jerusalem Day: Palestinians met with extreme violence
- On Jerusalem Day, is there anything to celebrate?
- Lieberman apologizes after calling two-state solution supporters 'autistic'
- Report: Swiss court orders Israel to pay Iran $1.1 billion in oil pipeline dispute
- Settlers turning West Bank church compound into new outpost
- A house divided: Hamas torn between long-term truce and renewed war