Alerts and Reports 

Democracy, Israeli Style/Hagai El-Ad

An election, a peace plan and an endless occupation

When will the “deal of the century,” as President Trump has called his forthcoming plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, finally be unveiled? Certainly not before April 9, when Israel holds its next election. But how soon after? “In less than 20 years,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noncommittally told a congressional committee recently.

In any case, American peace plans are nothing new. Does anyone recall, for instance, the Rogers Plans, named after Secretary of State William P. Rogers, who served under President Richard Nixon 50 years ago? When the second of his plans was discussed in the Knesset in 1970, one Israeli legislator confidently projected that “it won’t be long — a year, a year and a half, two at most — before the thing called ‘the held territories’ is no more, and the Israel Defense Force pulls back into Israel’s borders.”

Needless to say, that “thing” is far from being “no more.” While the Rogers Plans have since all but disappeared from memory, erased by a string of plans put forward by successive American presidents, reality in the occupied Palestinian territories didn’t simply halt. Israel’s occupation has deepened and evolved. Gaza has become the world’s largest open-air prison, bombed into submission every few years; East Jerusalem was formally annexed by Israel; the West Bank has become an archipelago of Palestinian Bantustans, surrounded by settlements, walls and checkpoints, subject to a mix of state and settler violence. Yet Israel’s real feat has not only been achieving all of this but doing so with impunity, triggering minimal consequences from the rest of the world, all the while somehow holding on to its valuable public relations label as a “vibrant democracy.”

The history of these past 50 years is what we should recognize as the real deal: the one that is already in effect, the deal of the half-century. In this deal, as long as Israel advances its occupation enterprise while applying a measure of brutality just below the level that would prompt international outrage, it is allowed to carry on, while still enjoying various international perks justified by grand, but obviously hollow, commitments to — as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently put it — the “shared values of liberty and democracy.”

Which brings us to April 9, when Israelis will cast their votes for a Parliament that rules both Israeli citizens and millions of Palestinian subjects denied that same right. Israeli settlers in the West Bank don’t even need to drive to a polling station inside Israel to vote on their Palestinian neighbors’ fate. Even settlers in the heart of Hebron can vote right there, with 285 registered voters (out of a total population of about 1,000 settlers), surrounded by some 200,000 Palestinian nonvoters. Or as Israel calls it, “democracy.”

The writer is the executive director of B’Tselem. Published also in New York Times.

Break open the world's biggest prison - the Gaza Strip!

Today, Saturday March 30 at 7.30 PM, Gush Shalom activists will be joining a demonstration in solidarity with the people of Gaza, opposite the Defense Ministry (HaKirya) in Tel Aviv .

Already for a whole year, the two million inmates of the world's biggest prison - the Gaza Strip - are beating against the bars of their prison cell - and are answered by the live bullets of Israeli Army snipers.

This evening, Israeli demonstrators in Tel Aviv will share in commemorating a year to the "Great March of Return" demonstrations at the fence surrounding Gaza.

We will call for:

  • Full civil and political rights for the Palestinians living under Israeli control and occupation
  • An end to the systematic shooting of unarmed civilians
  • An end to criminal bombings
  • An end to the siege which is suffocating Gaza's economy and society

Transportation from Jerusalem - 6.00 at Gan Ha'Paamon (Liberty Bell Park) Register here https://forms.gle/PRGmBAbgunKXVatZ6

Contact: Yosef Kitton +972-(0)54-4777063


From truck driver to conscientious objector

The Israeli army has sent Roman Levin to Military Prison 6, after he arrived at the military base where he had served for a year and a half and informed his commanding officer of his refusal to continue any further military service.

I have been serving as a truck driver, and many of these drives have been through the Occupied Territories. When I was drafted I thought the military serves the interests of the citizens of Israel, but after serving in the Occupied Territories I have realized that what the army is doing there does not serve my interests or those of all working Israelis. Especially not after the continuous killing of the protesters on the Gaza fence.

I have come to the conclusion that one must choose - you cannot both object to the occupation, racism and capitalist order, and serve in the military that perpetuates these.

On the morning of Monday, Feb. 25, activists mobilized by the Mesarvot Nework and the Yesh Gvul movement accompanied Roman Levin to the gates of the Ben Ami Transport Camp (Bayt Nabala), and held a support vigil there. Inside, Levin made his statement to the officers, and was subjected to an instant trial lasting about five minutes - culminating with his being sent to 30 days in Military Prison 6. From past experience it can be expected that at the end of these 30 days, a second such instant trial would be held and he would be returned to the prison.

In such trials there is nothing remotely resembling due process - the accused cannot have a lawyer or call any witnesses, the procedure is held in camera at the commanding officer`s bureau, with no access to the public or media, and as noted it rarely lasts more than five minutes. There is no legal limit on how many times the army can repeat the procdure. Repeated 30-day terms can accumulate into years of imprisonment, with never any real legal process. The only limit is in the amount of solidarity and public attention given to an imprisoned CO. Past practice has shown that, when a prisoner gets public attention and support, in Israel and abroad, the military authorities eventually let him or her go - though it often happens only after numerous repetitions of the instant trial routine.

The topography around Military Prison 6, located at Atlit - on the coastal plain between Tel Aviv and Haifa - gives an important advantage to refuser support activists. Near the prison is a mountain: not very high as mountains go, but high enough that people standing at the top - waving banners and hands, shouting and chanting - are clearly visible and audible inside the prison compound. Thus the prisoner, fellow inmates and prison staff are all made well aware that this prisoner does not stand alone, but has an active support network on the outside; this has direct implication on the military authorities decision on how long they intend to keep hold on this prisoner.

The tradition of support demonstrations on the mountain opposite Military Prison 6 was established back in 1982, when numerous reserve soldiers refused to take part in the first Israeli invasion of Lebanon. It has been continued for numerous objectors, such as those who refused to take part in suppressing the First Intifada in 1988 and the Second one in 2000. On Saturday,March 16, it is going to be invoked on behalf of Roman Levin. Probably, it will need to be repeated several times before he is set free.


When Roman Levin was three year old, his family took the decision to move from the Ukraine to Israel. They settled at Bat Yam, a lower middle class suburb of Tel Aviv. A year and a half ago, Roman reached the age of 18 and enlisted in the army. At the time he was highly motivated, believing that by performing military service he would be contributing to Israeli society and fulfilling his civic duty. His experiences during a year and half in the army caused a profound change of mind - leading to his declaring his refusal to continue serving, while knowing that this would inevitably result in going to prison.

In his refusal letter, which he composed before being imprisoned, Roman Levin wrote: Currently there is a civil war going on in the Ukraine, and when I visited there a few months ago, I met soldiers who did not know what they were fighting and dying for. I empathized with them because I too have no confidence whatsoever in the Israeli military policy - the focus of which is the preservation of the occupation. This experience made me rethink the significance of my own military service. In the Ukraine I encountered people who disparaged me as a Jew, while in Israel I was disparaged as `a Russian.

I served in the military as a truck driver, and many of my drives have been through the occupied territories. When I was drafted I thought the military serves the interests of the citizens of Israel, but after serving in the occupied territories I have realized that what the military does there does not serve my interests or those of all working Israelis. Especially not after the continuous killing of the protesters on the Gaza fence. The Jewish-Nation Law increased my understanding of this. I have come to the conclusion that one must chose - you cannot both object to the occupation, racism and capitalist order, and also serve in the military that perpetuates these.

Economically speaking, it would have been better for me and my family if I were to finish my service and gain at the army`s expense the expensive truck driver license, which could provide me with decent livelihood in later civilian life. But for most Palestinians, and especially those in the Gaza strip, such option for social and economic advance are not open. While the noose tightens around the neck of the Palestinian people, Inside Israel the gap between rich and poor also grows. The poverty that drains the hope for a better future from working Israelis, the government justifies with war. The state spends 70 billion Shekels a year on the defense budget, instead of investing in education, health and welfare.

Roman Levin is supported by Mesarvot - a network supporting politically-motivated refusal, and coordinates the activity of refuser groups and the signatories of refuser letters which appeared in last few years. The network supports conscientious objectors who choose to not enlist in the occupation army, and takes into account the gender aspects which compulsory enlistment brings to Israeli society. There is gender discrimination and sexual harassment inside the army, which influence and impact Israeli society as a whole. There is also the army`s program of opening to women soldiers greater options of combat service, which leads to their being directly involved in oppressing the Palestinian population, including the oppression of Palestinian women - which is why an increasing number of young female refusers reject out of hand this form of women`s empowerment. The network works in cooperation and assistance from the older Yesh Gvul Movement, whose history goes back to the First Lebanon war in 1982.

Dror Mizrahi Mesarvot (Refuseniks) Media | Strategy | PR Cell: +972-50-7248688 Email: dror@dror-mizrahi.org


March together against evictions, settlements and Judaizing Sheikh Jarrah

We will again march together against evictions, settlements and Judaizing Sheikh Jarrah; we will march together for justice for East Jerusalem

Forty members of the Sabagh family received eviction notices from their home in Sheikh Jarrah. Last week, over 150 activists from marched together from West Jerusalem to the family’s house in Sheikh Jarrah, to stand in solidarity and support the family’s and the broader neighborhood’s struggle.

This week we will meet at 14:00 in Sheikh Jarrah.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/293449287981071/

Meanwhile, tomorrow (Wed.) at 13.30 there will be a judicial hearing on Sheikh Jarrah at the Magistrate's Court, 6 Heshin St., Jerusalem.


Three Palestinians shot and killed in non-existent "incidents"

December 2018: Israeli forces shoot and kill three Palestinians on the grounds that they intentionally ran over Israelis - in incidents that never occurred

Over the course of nine days in December, Israeli security forces shot and killed three Palestinians in the West Bank, alleging that they had attempted to attack Israelis by car - incidents that never occurred. All three victims were shot although they were not endangering the lives of the security forces or of anyone else. Their death is a direct outcome of the reckless and illegal open-fire policy that permits, and retroactively supports, lethal fire in situations that do not justify it.

11 Dec. 2018: 'Omar 'Awwad (24) was fatally shot in the back by security forces as he was driving away from them, on his way back from work smelting copper. The police claims that the forces fired live bullets at ‘Awwad’s back because they suspected he had attempted to run them over. None of the forces were injured. None provided ‘Awwad with medical assistance.

13 Dec. 2018: Hamdan ‘Ardah (58) was fatally shot by soldiers while he was driving to the industrial zone in al-Birah, apparently after he was startled by their presence. According to media reports, ‘Ardah accidentally ran into a soldier, who was lightly injured. The soldiers fired at ‘Ardah intensively and did not stop even after he had been hit and the car had come to a halt. They prevented a medical crew that arrived on the scene from approaching ‘Ardah.

20 Dec. 2018: Qassem ‘Abassi (17) was fatally shot in the back as the car he was traveling in with three relatives, as part of a leisure trip to Nablus, was driving away from the Beit El-DCO checkpoint. The soldiers were in no danger – neither when the car was near the checkpoint nor as it drove away.

These incidents are the direct, predictable outcome of the reckless and illegal open-fire policy applied in the West Bank. This policy allows security forces to use lethal force even in situations in which real danger is not posed to anyone. The appalling disregard for the lives of Palestinians is continued with the forces not providing medical aid for the injured or allowing medical crews to do their job.

Following the killing of ‘Abassi, the third victim, the Commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, Brigadier General Eran Niv, stated: “We are killing people that we didn’t mean to kill.” Yet this accurate remark by a senior officer is unlikely to have any impact on the ground. Although the ramifications of this criminal policy have been known for a long time, it remains in force and the orders have not been changed. Moreover, hundreds of previous deaths caused by this policy have been whitewashed in the past, and the MAG Corps can be expected to do a thorough job of whitewashing these three latest cases as well. Given the lack of accountability, combined with a public atmosphere fed by the statements made by politicians and policy makers who encourage opening fire, unjustified lethal shootings of Palestinians who are not endangering anyone are sure to continue.

From the top clockwise: Qassem ‘Abassi, Hamdan ‘Ardah and 'Omar 'Awwad. Courtesy of their families.

The killing of ‘Omar ‘Awwad, west of the town of Idhna, 11 Dec. 2018:

At about 8:00 A.M. on Tuesday, 11 Dec. 2018, ‘Omar ‘Awwad, 24, who lives in the town of Idhna, west of Hebron, traveled to an area close to the Separation Barrier to smelt copper, which he sells for a living. At about 9:00 A.M., as he was driving back, he reached an intersection on the western outskirts of Idhna where a security force vehicle was blocking the right turn. ‘Awwad turned left, to a road that goes up to the town. Two security forces personnel who were standing by the vehicle that was blocking the intersection opened fire on his car from a distance of about 15 meters, while it was moving away from them. ‘Awwad was hit, swerved off the road and stopped. According to testimonies taken by B'Tselem, ‘Awwad was still alive at this point, but the security forces personnel on the scene did not provide him with any medical treatment. Residents who arrived there attempted to remove him from his car, but it was about 15 minutes before he was taken to hospital in a Red Crescent ambulance. He was pronounced dead upon arrival. According to information provided to B'Tselem, he was injured in the back by live bullets.

Immediately after the incident, the police made the following announcement: “A short while ago, Border Police fighters opened fire at a Palestinian vehicle suspected of attempting to run them over while they were securing Civil Administration operations in the town of Idhna. No-one was injured in the incident.”

The killing of Hamdan ‘Ardah, al-Birah, 13 Dec. 2018:

On Thursday, 13 Dec. 2018, a Palestinian opened fire at a hitchhiking stop near the entrance to the settlement of Givat Assaf, east of Ramallah. He killed two soldiers and seriously injured another soldier and a woman. Following the attack, the military undertook searches in al-Birah, north of Ramallah.

At about 4:30 P.M., Hamdan ‘Ardah, 58, a resident of Ramallah, was driving from his home towards the the al-Birah industrial zone, where there is a factory he managed. A group of soldiers were standing behind a sharp bend in the road, while another was conducting a search in a nearby building owned by a commercial company. When ‘Ardah reached the sharp bend, he slowed and changed course towards the entrance to the building, presumably after the surprise of finding soldiers on the scene. The soldiers shouted at him and immediately opened heavy fire at his car. According to media reports, the car hit one of the soldiers, injuring him lightly. A video segment obtained by B'Tselem clearly shows that the shooting at ‘Ardah continued after he had been hit and his car had stopped. About ten minutes later, an ambulance from the Palestinian Red Crescent arrived on the scene, but the soldiers prevented the medical crew from approaching the car. After about 20 minutes, a military ambulance arrived and evacuated ‘Ardah. Israel is holding his body and refuses to return it to his family.

On the day of the incident, the IDF Spokesperson claimed that “a terrorist attempted to use his vehicle to run over IDF fighters engaged in operational activities. One IDF fighter was lightly injured. The security forces on the scene responded by shooting and neutralizing the terrorist.”* However, according to media reports, the military has not defined this incident as a “vehicle attack.”

*This is the translation of the military's Hebrew tweet

System Message: WARNING/2 (<string>, line 141); backlink

Inline emphasis start-string without end-string.

The shooting at ‘Ardah continues even after his car had stopped The killing of Qassem ‘Abassi, Beit El-DCO checkpoint, 20 Dec. 2018:

On the evening of Thursday, 20 Dec. 2018, four members of the ‘Abassi family, who live in Ras al-‘Amud, east of Jerusalem, were traveling toward Nablus. Near the Givat Assaf intersection, the four encountered a traffic jam. A police officer who was standing nearby informed them that the road to Nablus was blocked, and they turned around and drove toward Ramallah, through an area with which they were unfamiliar. When they reached the roundabout close to the Beit El-DCO checkpoint, they turned right toward the village of Beitin. After realizing that they were going the wrong way, they turned around and headed back toward the roundabout. The soldiers called out to them to stop and fired live ammunition, which the military claims was fired in the air. When the four returned to the roundabout near the checkpoint, they again mistakenly turned toward Jerusalem. Other soldiers in the vicinity of the checkpoint fired live ammunition directly at them. The shots struck the left doors and wheels of the car, and hit two of the passengers. Qassem ‘Abassi, 17, who was sitting behind the driver, was killed. The driver was injured by shrapnel but managed to continue driving. After about a minute, when the car was hundreds of meters from the checkpoint, a military jeep approached from behind and ordered the driver to stop. Two soldiers got out of the jeep and ordered the passengers to get out and to remove Qassem ‘Abassi.

‘Abassi was taken away in a military ambulance. After about an hour, the other three occupants of the car were also taken away in an Israeli ambulance that arrived. According to media reports, the autopsy results show that ‘Abassi was shot in the back from behind. The same evening, the military claimed that “a short while ago, a vehicle broke through the Focus Checkpoint… a force on the scene opened fire in response.” The next day, the military announced that the car had not, in fact, broken through the checkpoint.

For additional information: Amit Gilutz, +972-54-6841126, amit@btselem.org Our mailing address is B'Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories P.O. Box 53132, Jerusalem 9153002


Following 107 days incarceration, CO Hillel Garmi is released

The IDF’s Consience Committee decided to exempt conscientious objector Hillel Garmi, of Yodfat in northern Israel from military service. Garmi, one of the initiators of the High School Students’ Letter, was released following seven sentences since his first appearance at the Induction Center this July, when he first declared his refusal to serve.

Upon his release Garmi said, “The five months I have spent in prison have been dedicated to the struggle against occupation and siege, to the five million Palestinians who effectively live under the rule of the Israeli government but do not have the chance to elect it.”

Garmi added: “Throughout the nights and days I spent in prison, I tried to imagine the suffering of the Palestinians undergoing the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip, including the lack of drinking water, food and medicine, or that of the Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank, who suffer the theft of their lands, road blockages, arbitrary search and arrest. Some people have told me that my refusal amounts to evading responsibility for the security of the citizens of Israel, but I believe rather that this act is one of taking responsibility for all those affected by my deeds, Israelis and Palestinians, by not joining in the cycle of violence and not hurting any of them, and by convincing others to act likewise.”

Upon entering prison Garmi said that his decision to refuse was inspired by the actions of Ahmed Abu-Ratima, the Gazan organizer of the Great Return March, and that Abu-Ratima had written him in support of his act.

Conscientious object Adam Rafaelov (18) of Kiryat Motzkin is currently in prison, having already served 97 days for refusing to join the army.

Garmi and Rafaelov are accompanied by Mesarvot – A political refusing network that writes letters and initiates refusing groups from the last few years to joint action. The network supports conscientious objectors that choose to not enlist in the occupation army, while knowingly acknowledging the gender aspects that the compulsory enlistment brings to Israeli society. The network works in cooperation and assistant from Yesh Gvul Movement.

Dror Mizrahi

Cell: +972-50-7248688 Email: dror@dror-mizrahi.org


Israeli Army "warning strike" killed two Palestinian teens

On 14 July 2018, around 6 P.M., the partially constructed al-Katibah Building in Gaza City was the target of an Israeli airstrike, consisting of four initial missiles, followed by four larger strikes. The first missile killed two Palestinian teenagers, Amir a-Nimrah and Luai Kahil, as they sat on the roof of the building. Twenty-three others were injured in the following strikes, which also damaged two neighboring buildings—a cultural center and a mosque.

The four initial missiles launched were part of what the Israeli military calls ‘roof knocking’, a policy by which ‘low-explosive munitions’ are used, supposedly to warn civilians of a larger impending strike and to allow time for them to evacuate the area. Israel claims that these warnings are legal and are meant to protect civilians. However, quite to the contrary, missiles launched as ‘roof knocking’ form part of an attack, for all intents and purposes. As such, they must follow the relevant rules under International Law. In this case a-Nimrah and Kahil were killed as a result of an attack that disregarded these rules completely.

The investigation

Following the attack, the Israeli military published footage of the strikes via its Twitter account, @idfspokesperson, supposedly showing four different strikes.

The attack was documented by a number of different sources. In addition to the Israeli military’s aerial footage, the attack was captured by nearby CCTV cameras. B’Tselem’s field researchers gathered further video material on the ground, as well as from social media and other open sources.

Forensic Architecture (FA) used this material to establish a definitive timeline of the sequence of strikes.

Conclusions

Our investigation found that the sequence of videos published through the @idfspokesperson Twitter account edited out the first, fatal strike. The published footage did show four strikes in sequence, but that sequence did not reflect reality: the first strike featured in the published sequence was in fact the third warning strike, from a different angle.

FA and B’Tselem also consulted multiple weapons experts, each of whom independently concluded that the fragmentation pattern caused by the fatal strike indicates the presence of shrapnel—indicating that the munitions used was specifically designed as an anti-personnel weapon. This contradicts the military’s claims.

It is unknown if the two teenagers were visible to the military before the first strike. If they were, they should not have been targeted. But if not, it follows that the Israeli military cannot justifiably rely on its aerial surveillance technologies to avoid civilian casualties.

Quotes

Nicholas Masterton, a researcher with FA and coordinator for this project, said: ‘This investigation demonstrates how a deep reading of the imagery provided by the IDF, which was ostensibly intended to legitimise the “warning strikes” on the al-Katibah building, can be unravelled to reveal a different story.

‘The wealth of images and videos in this case allowed us to conduct a rigorous independent investigation, and to challenge the Israeli military’s claims. We could not only show that Kahil and a-Nimrah were killed by a deadly missile, but also expose the underhanded way in which the Israeli military presented details of such strikes to the public.’

Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture’s Director, said: ‘We decided to spend time investigating this case because warning strikes are an essential part of the Israeli military’s claims to high ethical standards. But such warnings are sometimes delivered with the same missiles that are used elsewhere to kill.

‘As a result, it’s no surprise that these warning strikes can kill the very civilians they are purportedly meant to warn, or that the message they are meant to deliver is often misunderstood.

‘Further, these so-called ‘warnings’ give the IDF a licence, as they perceive it, to subsequently commence heavy bombardment of buildings in dense urban areas. They can as such have the result of causing more civilian casualties, rather than preventing them.’

Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director of B’Tselem, said: ‘Airstrikes in Gaza are marketed to the public by the Israeli military as surgical actions, designed to protect civilians, based on precision intelligence, accurate munitions, state-of-the-art surveillance, and close attention to international law.

‘In reality, that is often nothing more than propaganda. The truth, instead, is devastating civilian casualties, surveillance that is incapable of distinguishing combatants from teenagers, inept intelligence, and the reduction of legal principles that are intended to protect civilians into a perfunctory checklist, which is later used to whitewash human rights violations, and to establish impunity.’

View the video investigation and press kit images here

For additional information: Amit Gilutz, +972-54-6841126, amit@btselem.org Our mailing address is B'Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories P.O. Box 53132, Jerusalem 9153002


Sheikh Sayakh is about to be imprisoned for ten months, having been sentenced for trespassing and entering public property in violation of the law on state lands. And here, this criminal wins the support of human rights and co-existence activists. Naturally one asks why we support a person whom an Israeli court regards as a criminal deserving of a ten-month prison sentence and a fine of tens of thousands of shekels. In order to understand this, the story of this case must be told:

In 1905 Sheikh Sayakh’s great grandfather purchased land from a member of the Al Uqbi tribe in the Al Araqib area. In 1914, members of his tribe, Al Turi, not only resided there but began to use a small plot of land to bury their dead. In 1952 the Israeli military governor came to their village and told the elder (Sheikh) at the time that the army intends to hold maneuvers in the area, and that they must leave for their own safety. He promised that half-a-year later, after the maneuvers are concluded, they will be able to return to their land. When they wished to do so, they were told they could return only if they lease the area from the state. They refused. This is their own land, why should they lease it?

Apparently the Israeli Knesset passed the 1953 law on purchasing land, which stipulated among other things that lands not in use at the time of this legislation would become state property. Thus, with the help of the army and legislation, the state robbed Sheikh Sayakh’s land, as it had in many other cases. As far as I know, the victims of this law were always only Arab citizens of Israel, never Jews…

The story proceeds with two versions: the state claims that in the late 1990s Sheikh Sayakh and his people invaded the area and founded their village. Sheikh Sayakh claims that they had always maintained their connection and use of the land.

In the late 1990s the state began to destroy Al Araqib’s grain crops and demolish homes in the village. In July 2010 they demolished the entire village for the first time. Since then the state has demolished over 130 times the light construction that emerges after every demolition. Alongside the demolitions, the state has resorted to law suits against the Sheikh and his people. This has now entailed a prison sentence and heavy fine. All this has taken place while the issue of ownership of the land is still being reviewed in court and not decided yet.

The state has an army and police force and the power to legislate as it pleases. There are two matters that it cannot control, however: justice and morality.

In every trial it is not only the defendant but also the prosecutors and judges who stand trial. The defendant is tried for the crimes he committed or did not commit. The prosecutor is tried over his claims and the law he upholds: whether it is just and moral or not. The judges are judged by their ruling, whether it is just and moral or not. Do they uphold unjust laws or rise against them.

Sheikh Sayakh is on trial for not willing to accept the robbery of his lands and the expulsion of his village members from their land by the state that expelled them from their own village in 1952. He returned to his village and land and reconstructed it.

The state now comes and demolished the village time and again and tries to expel Sheikh Sayakh and his people from the village. It has now charged and convicted him for invading the very lands it robbed from him. It is the state that is disgraced by prosecuting him and the judges who ruled by the robbers’ laws and against justice and morality.

Amos Gvirtz 4 dec. 2018 amosg@shefayim.org.il


Inequality in the Holy City: Palestinians, Jews, and Jerusalem

Partners for a Progeressive Israel invites you to join our webinar, "Conversations with Isreal and Palestine". On Wednesday, December 5 @12:30PM EST: Inequality in the Holy City - Palestinians, Jews, and Jerusalem with Aziz Abu Sarah - recent mayoral candidate for Al-Quds Lana (Our Jerusalem) and Gershon Baskin - longtime peace activist, author, public speaker, and Jerusalemite. Modreator: Hillel Schenker, Co-editor of the Palestine-Israel Journal. This online discussion can be accessed via your computer or by phone.


Details:

Aziz Abu Sarah is an entrepreneur, speaker, peace builder and author. He is a National Geographic Explorer and a TED Fellow. In 2009, Aziz co-founded MEJDI Tours, a cultural exploration vehicle for an ever-changing travel market. He is a seasoned tourism professional with over a decade of experience in the industry. In 2014, he gave a TED Talk about his vision for redefining tourism. You can view the talk here. Aziz has spoken at countless of international organizations and universities, including The United Nations, Nexus, TED, BMW, European Parliament, Georgetown, Yale and Harvard. He has published articles in The New York Times, National Geographic, TED, Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post and others and regularly analysis for CNN, Fox, and Aljazeera among others. Aziz is the recipient of the Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East from the Institute of International Education, the European Parliament’s Silver Rose Award, the Eisenhower Medallion, and the Eliav-Sartawi Award for his Middle Eastern Journalism. He was named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Strategic Centre in Jordan for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. He won the Intercultural innovation award from the UN Alliance of Civilizations and the BMW Group. He was also recognized by UNSG Ban Ki Moon for his work in peace building.

Gershon Baskin, Ph.D., is the founding Co-Chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. Baskin served as an outside adviser on the peace process to late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and on a Jerusalem experts committee under former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. He was the first civil servant in Israel responsible for Jewish-Arab relations in Israel, working in the Ministry of Education under Zvulen Hammer, and as the founder and director of the Institute for Education for Jewish-Arab Coexistence. Baskin is a graduate of the Young Judaea movement. He made aliya from New York in 1978 and lives in Jerusalem. His latest book, In Pursuit of Peace in Israel and Palestine, was published by Vanderbilt University Press.

Hill Schenker is co-editor of the Palestine-Israel Journal. He was as an editor of New Outlook, the Israeli peace monthly and has written for The Guardian, The Nation, Los Angeles Times, L.A. Weekly, Tikkun, Israel Horizons, In These Times, and the Israeli press. Schenker is a co-founder of the Peace Now movement, served for many years as spokesperson for the Israeli branch of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and is an International Advisory Board member of the Global Majority center for non-violent conflict resolution.

Register Here https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5q8GCZzKR9inRb70etSCcw

Contact for more information:

Partners for a Progeressive Israel

Phone: 212.242.4500 Email: info@progressiveisrael.org

www.progressiveisrael.org


Nazihah attempts to adjust to amputation

From the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Gaza.

On the threshold of her family farmland in eastern Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Naziha 'Alyan Qudeih, a 38-year-old Palestinian woman, is standing on one leg supported with a walker and looking at the place where she used to work for years but now is deprived of this after being shot by the Israeli forces.

"Here, I used to work and spend many hours in planting and weeding the land." said Nazihah to PCHR's staff with her eyes glowing nostalgically for those days. Working in her land was not for luxury or just to spend time, but it was a source of income to support her family and decrease life burdens.

A bullet that was fired by an Israeli sniper and led to amputation of her leg during her participation in the demonstrations of Return and Breaking the Siege, east of where she lives, changed Naziha's life and changed her life's routine; a thing she is trying to resist and cope with it.

She recalled what happened that day with her eyes drowning in a pool of tears, "I cannot forget the moments I got injured" … She then closed her eye and flashed back to the tough memory, "it was Monday morning, 14 May 2018, when I arrived at the Return encampment established in eastern 'Abasan village. I went there alone on feet carrying 4 bottles of water to distribute them to the demonstrators as I used to do every Friday in the Return encampment, east of Khuza'a."

She added, "I stepped toward the demonstrators and started to distribute the bottles of water. I came back to the encampment tore fill the bottles from the camp, and go back to distribute them. When I was on my way, I saw many people wounded and killed. The situation was very difficult."

The place, where Nazihah was, was witnessing demonstrations for the first time since the beginning of the Great March of Return on 30 March 2018. During these demonstrations, the Israeli forces killed 14 Palestinians out of 16 killed that day in eastern Khan Younis in addition to wounding dozens as documented by PCHR. The demonstrations on that day were part of so-called "for a Million Person March of Return," commemorating the Palestinian Nakba which marks the day when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced of their villages in mid-May 1948.

At approximately 17:00 on that day, Nazihah Qudeih headed to the so-called "Jakar" Street adjacent to the border fence with Israel towards the Return encampment in Khuza'ah, which is the central location for the demosntrations… Most of the demonstrators had left 'Abasan due to the huge number of persons killed and wounded in the area.

She said, "After around 15 minutes of my arrival at the Return encampment in Khuza'ah, I saw few numbers of demonstrators stepping 20 meters towards the Jakar Street and approaching the border fence, north of the encampment. I saw a woman with 2 children near the fence and an Israeli soldier along the borders pointing his weapon at where I was standing. I turned around to leave… a moment and I felt a strong hit in my right leg and fell on the ground."

Touching the tip of her right amputated leg with her eyes closed, Nazihah recalls those moments, "I saw my leg flexed and severely lacerated under the other leg, feeling so much pain. A group of civilians and paramedics came towards me to take me via an ambulance to the medical point in the encampment where they attempted to stop the bleeding. However, I was then taken to the European Hospital."

While on way to hospital, Nazihah lost consciousness, and when she woke up the next day, she found herself in the surgery department at the hospital but with no leg. Her right leg was amputated below the knee after being wounded with an explosive bullet that shattered the bones and largely lacerated the leg, necessitating the amputation.

After 6 months of her injury and the amputation, Nazihah attempts to bear the pain and cope with her new reality as it is not easy for her who was very active and work hard in the house to be suddenly unable to give and powerless.

You can find pains and dreams in the features of her face when she remembers how she used to work in their agricultural land and the other farmers' lands in the harvest seasons to support her family.

Nazihah lives alone with her elderly parents as her 3 sisters are married. Her work was a very important source of income for the family, who depends on the salary allocated for their son who was killed by the Israeli forces during an incursion into their village, 'Abasan, in 2004.

The only brother left for Nazihah is Suhaib (32) whose right leg was amputated as well but from above the knee after being shot by the Israeli forces on the First Friday of the Return and Breaking the Siege March. He lives in the second floor of his family house with his wife and 5 children.

She looks at her partner in pain and amputation, Suhaib, and says, "Alhamdulillah "Thank God" in all situations. My brother and I used to work and support our family. My brother is married with 5 children… today as you see we have become unable to work, hopefully we could find someone who will help us."

When Suhaib was wounded, he was trying to rescue a girl wounded by Israeli occupation in eastern Khan Younis. He told PCHR's staff: "As soon as I approached her, I felt that a blow hit me in the right leg and fell next to the girl to find my leg bleeding."

It was found that Suhaib was hit with an explosive bullet in his right leg and the bullet shrapnel scattered to hit his left leg. On Saturday afternoon, 07 April 2018, and as a result of the effects of the explosive bullet, including inflammation, arterial injuries and bleeding, the doctors decided a surgery to amputate his right leg from above the knee.

On the journey to adapt to her new reality, Nazihah tries to do some of the tasks and responsibilities she used to do, such as cleaning the house and preparing food for her family, but she cannot stand so long as the pain of injury forces her to sit down and stop.

Despite the high spirit you can feel from time to time in her words, she does not conceal her pain and inability to adapt to what happened. "Sometimes I cannot sleep and have become forgetful that for example the key is in my hand and I'm looking for it. Further, I have to clean the house while crawling on the floor," says Nazihah

She does not seem to regret her participation in the demonstrations as she and her brother participated several times after being wounded, "I was not carrying a weapon. All I was doing was distributing water for the protesters. There is no justification for targeting me or any other peaceful demonstrator," she said.

Through an association, a few days ago, Nazihah began to prepare herself for transplanting a prosthetic leg; she tried it but it hurt her and wounded the amputated limb. "It needs more training to get used to it," says Nazihah. Meanwhile, her brother is also waiting for another opportunity to transplant a prosthetic limb because the nature of his injury has aggravated the amputation, impeding the limb transplantation in light of the poor capabilities in Gaza.

Fatima al-Najjar, the mother of Nazihah and Suhaib, once again is trying to bear the grief and pain. In the past, she lost her eldest son at the age of 20, and today she sees the suffering of her two children who live with her at home and are the only breadwinners of the family. All the while she was thinking why and how long we will suffer. Is not our right to live like the rest of the world?

Public Document


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Supreme Court paves way for cleansing of Palestinians from Silwan Yesterday, Israeli High Court justices Barak-Erez, Baron and Elron rejected an appeal filed by 104 residents of Silwan to overturn a September 2002 decision by the Custodian of Absentee Property to "free" the land on which they have lived for decades. The land was "freed" by three people - all closely affiliated with Ateret Cohanim, a settler association that works to Judaize East Jerusalem. In the judgment, written by Justice Barak-Erez, the Court's role is narrowed down to examining several questions relating to administrative law. In choosing this avenue, the Court sent the residents back to fight, against all odds, the civil proceedings that Ateret Cohanim has undertaken in order to evict them from their homes. Justice Barak-Erez ruled that the appellants were unable to counter the "presumption of regularity" that applies to the Custodian, and that there is no room for discretion on the Custodian's part in exercising power on this matter. Acknowledging the implications, Justice Barak-Erez added that the decision "may give rise to real difficulty for those effectively in possession of the freed assets", yet her decision stands.

The judgment was written without addressing the context whatsoever: as though the land were not "freed" by an association whose goal is to drive Palestinians out of their homes; as though the body of law does not allow Jews alone to file ownership for land abandoned in 1948; as though the Court were not sanctioning the broadest move to dispossess Palestinians since 1967. The judgment proves, yet again, that the Israeli High Court gives its seal of approval to almost any infringement of Palestinians' rights by the Israeli authorities.

Link to HCJ's judgment (in Hebrew)

Background

In recent years, in addition to the housing shortage, poor or lacking infrastructure, services and government funding that affect all East Jerusalem residents, various government ministries and the Jerusalem Municipality have mobilized to help the settler organization Ateret Cohamin dispossess Palestinian families living in the neighborhood of Batan al-Hawa, and hand over their homes to Jewish settlers. This is the most extensive expulsion process in recent years in East Jerusalem. To date, eviction claims have been filed against dozens of Palestinian families that have been living in Batan al-Hawa for decades. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, this number reflects 45% of all families under threat of dispossession on the basis ethnicity in the city.

The neighborhood is divided into about 50 parcels. Nine of them have been transferred to Ateret Cohanim, and settlers have moved into five of them. In addition to the hardships that come with the settlers – lawsuits, invasion of privacy, economic duress, daily harassment of residents and the resulting clashes between local youths and the settlers, often involving stone throwing – there is now an added presence of the Israel Police, the Border Police and private security guards paid for by the Ministry of Housing. They too use violence against Palestinian residents, threaten them, arrest minors and disrupt life. The stronger the hold settlers have in the neighborhood of Batan al-Hawa, the greater the number of Palestinians directly impacted by the settler security apparatus, even without being expelled from their homes.

Ever since Israel annexed East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities have employed discriminatory policies against the city’s Palestinian residents, and have worked in different ways toward decreasing their number while increasing the number of Jewish residents, with a view to achieving demographic and geographic conditions that would obstruct any future attempts to question Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem. As part of these efforts, Israeli authorities have confiscated hundreds of hectares of land from the Palestinian population and built 12 neighborhoods designed exclusively for the Jewish population in the occupied area that was annexed to Israel. In terms of international law, the status of these neighborhoods is no different than that of the settlements elsewhere in the West Bank.The settlement in Batan al-Hawa promoted by Ateret Cohanim is an integral part of efforts by the Israeli authorities and by settler organizations to Judaize to the Holy Basin - including the Old City's Muslim Quarter and the Palestinian neighborhoods surrounding it. At present, some 2,800 settlers are living in about 140 residences in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods in the Old City and its environs - an area that is home to some 100,000 Palestinians. For additional information: Amit Gilutz, +972-54-6841126, amit@btselem.org Our mailing address is B'Tselem, The Israeli Info