Alerts and Reports 

Demo in support of the Issawiya Five, Jonathan Pollak and all occupation prisoners

Free Anwar ‘Abid, Adam Mahmoud, Saleh Abu ‘Asab, Fayez Muheisen, Nadim a-SafadiJonathan Pollak, and all the Occupation’s prisoners

This Wednesday, 15.1.2010, a hearing will be held regarding Jonathan Pollak. We will come at 10am to the Jerusalem magistrates court to demonstrate our full solidarity with those resisting the occupation, against cooperation with Apartheid, and against Israeli colonialism.

Five Palestinian youths, residents of Issawiya, are also currently in detention after violating in protest the administrative house arrest imposed on them and refusing to accept the release conditions they were offered. Jonathan Pollak has been in detention for over a week for refusing to accept the release conditions he was offered. In the shrinking space for resistance to the occupation, the refusal to recognize the authority of the courts is an important political action, deserving broad support. This action rejects the legitimacy of Israel’s control, and seeks to subvert the separation mechanisms of a regime that presents itself as democratic, yet in practice is a democracy for Jewish Israelis only, and a military dictatorship for Palestinians.

Remembering Hava Keller, a pioneer in the anti-occupation struggle

Hava Keller, who died at the age of 90 this week, was one of the few Israelis whos spoke publicly about her role in the Nakba, and was at the heart of several groundbreaking anti-occupation and feminist movements.

By Oren Ziv, +972 Magazine

Hava Keller, a veteran anti-occupation activist, passed away in Tel Aviv on Tuesday at the age of 90. Keller was one of the founders of the feminist anti-occupation group Women in Black, as well as Gush Shalom and Women for Political Prisoners. She was also an activist with Ta’ayush and other left-wing groups.

Over the past three decades, Keller had been a consistent presence at left-wing protests, always standing curbside with a sign and driven, according to friends’ recollections following her death, by an unshakeable belief in human rights.

Keller was born in 1929 in Łódź, Poland. Her family fled the country in December 1939, assisted by German friends in the city, and made their way to Lithuania. In January 1941, a few months before the Nazis occupied the country, Keller’s family left for Tel Aviv along with other Jews who had received a permit to go to Palestine.

Keller joined the Haganah Zionist paramilitary group when she was in ninth grade and was arrested by the British on numerous occasions for hanging political posters. She took part in the 1948 conquest of Acre; in 2006, she provided testimony about the occupation to the Israeli NGO Zochrot, which works to document the Nakba:

People fled in cars. My job was to sit in an observation tower and count the number of vehicles leaving Acre. There were almost no residents there when I entered Acre. We walked around the city. One apartment gave me a shock. We arrived… and the door was open. On the table were pitas and coffee, as if they had been in the middle of breakfast. There was a pair of baby’s shoes on the floor. [I thought to myself] that his feet must be cold, that we had to find the child. I started shouting and crying.

Keller cited it as one of the moments in which she understood that something was not right.

Toward the end of the 1948 War that followed Israel’s establishment, Keller took part in a Haganah operation that expelled Palestinians from Bir es-Seba, would would become Be’er Sheva after the war. In 1949, she was among the Israeli guards overseeing Palestinian laborers who were dismantling the railroad to Rosh Hanikra, near the Lebanese border, on the grounds that train transport to Lebanon was no longer needed. When one of the workers tried to escape, Keller and the other guards shot him to death.

Her son, Adam Keller, remarked this week that his mother “rarely mentioned horrifying incidents. Once, for example, she recalled shooting someone who ran toward her.”

‘That was the day my Zionism died’

Following the 1948 war, Keller got married and had two children. She and her husband, Ya’akov, were among the founders of Kibbutz Saar, near the Palestinian village of al-Sumayriyyah whose residents had been expelled in 1948. For months, Keller asked fellow kibbutz residents when the Palestinians would return, and was always told “soon.” One day, she saw that the village’s houses had been torn to the ground, with just an aqueduct left intact. Kibbutz Lochamei Hagettaot (Fighters of the Ghetto) now stands on the ruins of the village.

“That was the day my Zionism died,” Keller told a Zochrot tour group 10 years ago. “I understood that Israel had no intention of living in peace with the Palestinians, and that they wanted to expel them from the country.”

Keller’s political activism began in the 1950s, when she became involved with Mapam, a socialist-Zionist party. She took part in solidarity demonstrations with striking laborers who were fighting for better conditions, especially the 1952 Sailors' Strike - one of the most prominent labor disputes in Israeli history.

“The word ‘feminism’ didn’t exist in Israel at the time, but she resented that women in the kibbutz were ordered to work in the kitchen or doing laundry,” her son, Adam, recalled.

The Kellers moved to Tel Aviv in 1953. Hava was part of the first history course taught at Tel Aviv University, and taught history and civics to ninth-graders for several years. One parent, according to her family, complained to the school where she taught that she was “turning my son into a leftist.” The principal rejected the complaint.

In the early 1980s, Keller’s political activism intensified with her opposition to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. She also became active on behalf of Palestinian prisoners.

When the First Intifada broke out in 1988, Keller became involved with “Hala Hakibush” (“Down with the Occupation”) and, along with other women, founded “Women for Political Prisoners.” For years, Keller took part in weekly protests outside Hasharon Prison in central Israel, which coincided with prisoners’ family visits. Keller also brought warm clothes, blankets, and other items for the women in the prison.

Following the Oslo Accords in the mid-1990s, Keller participated in the struggle for the release of female Palestinian prisoners, who were supposed to be freed as part of the agreement. Israel initially refused to release inmates who had received life sentences, but relinquished as a result of the campaign.

“Her dedication to the cause of Palestinian prisoners was, in part, connected to her sense of guilt over her past,” explained Adam, her son.

“Everyone loved her,” recalls Malka Geyer, a friend of Keller’s. “We got in touch with Suha Arafat [Yasser Arafat’s now-widow] in order to establish ‘Women for Children’ (specifically minors in detention), and went to meet her in Gaza. She took us to sit with Arafat. As soon as Hava appeared, he got up to hug her.

“Her activism was known throughout the [occupied] territories,” Geyer continues. Even Arafat, who was in exile in Tunisia before being allowed back into the country in the early ’90s, had heard of her.

In 1992, after Yitzhak Rabin’s government expelled hundreds of Palestinians to Lebanon, Keller helped establish a joint Jewish-Arab committee to oppose the deportation. In addition, she and others launched Gush Shalom in response to what they saw as the insufficient action of Peace Now, then Israel’s most prominent pro-peace organization.

From 1988 to 2018, when her health began to decline, Keller attended several protests every week — especially those of Women in Black in central Tel Aviv. She also regularly took part in demonstrations in the West Bank, including in Bil’in, as well as inside the Green Line, including al-Araqib in the Negev, Givat Amal in Tel Aviv, and the social justice protests of 2011.

Friends and family who attended Keller’s shiva (the week-long mourning period in Judaism) in Tel Aviv this week recalled a woman who insisted on helping others, whether people or animals. Rina Moss, a friend, noted “her deep understanding of rights as universal” and her need “to do what was necessary, no matter what people said.”

“She had an inner need to protest,” said Ursula, another friend. Keller’s son, Adam, added that at one point she was attending three-to-four protests a week.

Keller requested that she be cremated and her ashes scattered in the sea along the Tel Aviv coast, where she lived most of her life.

Oren Ziv is a photojournalist, a founding member of the Activestills photography collective, and a staff writer for Local Call. Since 2003, he has been documenting a range of social and political issues in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories with an emphasis on activist communities and their struggles. His reportage has focused on the popular protests against the wall and settlements, affordable housing and other socio-economic issues, anti-racism and discrimination struggles, and the struggle to free animals.

Only The Hague Will Save Israel

Gideon Levy, Haaretz

Now it’s a double header. In a combination of events, not entirely coincidental, Israel and its prime minister are both accused of crimes, and both are trying to evade justice in the same way: by hobbling the justice system in each case. The suspicions regarding the state’s crimes are much more serious than those of its prime minister, and therefore the state’s evasion of justice is much more nefarious.

The Israelis, almost all of them, think differently, of course. For them, the greater corruption is that of the prime minister; in their consciousness, that of the state doesn’t exist. No one told them about the crimes that are committed every day. They have only been told that their army is the most moral in the world and they have swallowed this, hook, line and sinker. In Israel anyone who dares call a crime a crime is an anti-Semite. Now the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Fatou Bensouda, says there is reason to believe that Israel has committed war crimes. Perhaps anti-Semitism has spread to her home country of Gambia as well. But Chief Prosecutor Bensouda is cautious in her statements; she is too cautious.

This is the day we’ve been waiting for. All seekers of justice have been waiting for it. Anyone who believes that crimes have been committed hopes for the day when the perpetrators will be brought to justice, whether they be murderers, rapists, robbers or army commanders, ministers or settlers responsible for war crimes. The likelihood of Israel investigating itself is not slim; it’s nonexistent. And so we look to The Hague, to the place where war criminals are judged when their countries would not dream of prosecuting them.

Israel is a clear example of such a country. Does anyone seriously think that war crimes were not committed during the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip? Not even on Black Friday in Rafah? That the transfer of hundreds of thousands of civilians to occupied territories and the forced takeover of land there, including privately-owned land, is not a bold-faced and callous infraction of international law? Is there any fair legal official who sees hundreds of unarmed demonstrators killed near the fence that imprisons Gaza, a war crime in itself, and does not want to see those responsible punished?

This is a great day because it is not only a question of past crimes, but crimes that are happening every day, to this very day. They are going on while these lines are being written and while you are reading them. There is not one moment without a crime. The only way to stop them is by criminalizing those responsible. Israel will never do this itself, only The Hague. When ministers and officers fear leaving the country, the Air Force will think twice before bombarding tin shacks in Gaza and massacring their inhabitants.

The road is still long and the terror Israel casts on the international community is still great. But one achievement has already been chalked up: Israel did not deny the crimes, but rather the authority of the court to judge them. This misstep of Israeli propaganda will be corrected, but the claim that The Hague does not have the authority to deal with what is happening in the areas Israel occupies raises a powerful question: So who does? The Military Advocate General? The High Court of Justice? Surely you jest. “A black day for truth and justice,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on a day that is incomparably glorious in its promise of truth and justice. “Capitulation to the false and defamatory propaganda of Palestinian terror,” Kahol Lavan lawmaker Yair Lapid pontificated, once again proving that on the important issues, there really is no difference between him and Netanyahu.

Israel has done everything to reach The Hague. That’s what happens when the prosecution is a cemetery for war crimes, the High Court whitewashes them and the media hides them and covers for them. That’s the way it is when international law is disparaged for decades. There’s probably no other country that thumbs its nose at international law this way and pays no price for it. Perhaps now the moment of truth is approaching, the moment of penalty. It will be very good for Israel. It might clean out its stables, stained with blood and stolen land. Every Israeli patriot and seeker of justice should now look to The Hague with hope.

By Gideon Levy Ha'aretz December 22, 2019 Israeli patriots and justice seekers should look to the Hague with hope

Put an end to police brutality in Issawiya - Protest at the Russian Compound!

For almost half a year, the residents of Issawiya have endured daily violence at the hands of the Israeli Police. Large forces of Israel Border Police (Magav) and Special Patrol Unit Police (Yassam) patrol the neighborhood day and night, in an organized, systematic campaign to turn Issawiya into a war zone.

In the streets, schools, and stores, the residents, including large numbers of children, are exposed to intense violence, sound grenades, teargas, roadblocks, and hundreds of arbitrary arrests, the vast majority of which end without indictment. Even in their homes, residents are not safe from violent nightly raids.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon, who has witnessed our demonstrations for the past three weeks, continues to enable and support police activity in Issawiya with his words. Today, while Leon is busy engaging in PR overseas, we will bring our demands to those directly responsible for the violence in Issawiya--the Jerusalem District of the Israeli Police and its sheriff, Doron Yedid.

Today, Saturday night, in front of the police station in the Russian Compound, we will demand an immediate end to the violent abuse and collective punishment perpetrated by the Israeli Police, and we will demand accountability from Sheriff Doron Yedid.

Together, as large movements and individual activists from across the country, we will sound out a loud, unwavering voice in solidarity with the people of Issawiya, demanding an end to the police brutality and repression in East Jerusalem that must no longer be allowed to continue.

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Elected but Restricted - Palestinian Members in the Israeli Knesset

Palestinian members of the Knesset (MKs) are facing increasing threats to their freedom of expression. These threats are of concern in and of themselves but also reflect the wider situation in Israel in which the space for voices critical of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians has shrunk and discrimination against Palestinian citizens has been entrenched.

During the past five years, Israeli legislative and executive authorities have subjected those criticizing Israeli government policies towards Palestinians to increasing restrictions and obligations, sought to undermine the support and funding they receive from abroad and denied entry to non-nationals supporting or working for an organization that they perceive as promoting a boycott of Israel or Israeli entities.

In 2018 Israel passed the “nation state law” (formally known as Basic Law: Israel - The Nation State of the Jewish People), which defined Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and constitutionally entrenched inequality and discrimination against non-Jews.

In carrying out its research, Amnesty International reviewed existing and proposed legislation, ethical regulations issued by the Knesset, relevant Israeli government statements and reports by human rights groups and interviewed Palestinian MKs and representatives of relevant non-governmental organizations between February and August 2019.

It sent memorandums to the Speaker of the Knesset and the Likud Coalition Chairman to seek comments on concerns, but has received no response to date.

Legislative changes – one of them enacted, the others proposed – are threatening the right to freedom of expression of elected MKs and are likely to have a particular impact on Palestinian MKs.

An amendment that was passed in 2016 to one of Israel’s Basic Laws allowed the Knesset to expel elected MKs through a majority vote of their fellow parliamentarians.

Amnesty International considers that the amendment unduly limits parliamentarians’ right to freedom of expression and that its genesis indicates that it is aimed primarily at Palestinian MKs.

One Palestinian MK described the law as “a sword dangled over our heads by members of the Knesset who oppose us politically”. Other legislative changes proposed over the last few years have risked undermining minority groups’ rights to freedom of expression and political participation.

Knesset regulations purportedly in place to enforce ethical practices among MKs have been used to restrict the right to freedom of expression, impacting Palestinian MKs in a discriminatory manner.

In 2018, the Knesset’s Rules of Ethics were amended to allow MKs to be refused permission to travel abroad if the trip is funded by “a body calling for a boycott of the State of Israel”. Amnesty International considers that advocating for boycotts is a form of free expression that must be protected.

The same year, two Palestinian MKs were banned from travelling abroad with funding from specific NGOs that were on a “blacklist” created by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

In 2016, Knesset Ethics Committee suspended three Palestinian MKs ruling that they had supported violence by observing a minute of silence during a meeting they had held with Palestinian families whose children had been killed by Israeli forces after attacking or allegedly attacking Israelis. The InterParliamentary Union (IPU) found that the suspensions were “unjustified” and violated the MKs rights to freedom of opinion and expression.

Since 2011, the Knesset has disqualified four bills related to Palestinians’ rights or political aspirations.

In 2018, during the legislative process leading to the adoption of the “nation state law”, it prevented a bill proposed by Palestinian MKs offering an alternative definition of Israel as “a country for all its citizens” from reaching a parliamentary discussion, arguing that it would negate Israel’s definition as a Jewish state.

In Amnesty International’s assessment, the decision discriminated against Palestinian MKs, seemingly on the basis of their national or ethnic origin. At the same time, Palestinian MKs have faced inflammatory statements apparently intended to delegitimize them and their work by senior Israeli government officials and other MKs. Some have been labelled “traitors” by government ministers.

In line with both the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to both of which Israel is a state party, states must ensure that restrictions on the right to freedom of expression are not determined in a discriminatory manner.

Amnesty International urges the Israeli government to ensure respect for the right to freedom of expression of elected officials without discrimination, refrain from using language that delegitimizes Palestinian MKs and provide constitutional protection to the principle of non-discrimination.

It calls on the Knesset to repeal legislation passed in 2016 allowing it to expel MKs through a majority vote, end the discriminatory use of parliamentary ethical regulations against Palestinian MKs, refrain from disqualifying proposed legislation based on discriminatory grounds such as political opinion and repeal or substantially amend legislation that facilitates discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, including the “nation state law”.

Full report by Amensty International

Israelis & Palestinians Negotiate Solutions to the Gaza Crisis

Today (Thur.) , 5 PM, 20 Israelis & Palestinians – the founding members of the ‘Congress of the People’ – will negotiate solutions to the Gaza crisis in Landwer coffee shop, Rabin Square, Tel-Aviv. The agreements will be published and sent to the leaders.

The negotiations will take place today, 5 PM, in Landwer coffee shop, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv.

The Congress of the People includes 120 Israelis and Palestinians from all walks of life holding different political views. They meet once a month in a different location to negotiate alternative solutions to the conflict.

The agreements, drafted by the assembly, will be presented at the first convention of the Israeli-Palestinian Congress of the People - a seminal conference attended by a wide audience of Israelis and Palestinians. During the conference, the agreements will be discussed and voting will take place in ballot boxes.

For more information: /


Emergency demonstration: Stop the war now!

Netanyahu is dragging us into another dangerous war that will bring tragedy onto both peoples only to stay prime minister. The war will only bring death, suffering, and pain on both sides. We demand the only real solution to the situation: an end to the siege on Gaza, an end to the occupation, and striving for a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

A war to keep Netanyahu on his throne

Hundreds of thousands of us woke up this morning to the air raid alarms, but yet we are expected to shut up. Outside, missiles fly, and we`re told it`s not the time for politics, because there`s a war. But this war is political. And those who pay the price are us - the ordinary people. Women, children and men on both sides of the border and everywhere.

The results of this war may be a Government of National Unity or yet another general elections, but one thing is certain: it will not achieve peace and security for the people of Souhthen Israel nor solve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. It`s time to cry out Enough! Netanyahu and his transitional government have no mandate to drag us into war. We say no to a war whose main aim is to keep him on the throne. WWe say no to killing, suffering and fear!

It is hard not to see the political interests behind the timing of the assassination of the Islamic Jihad senior, which led to the current missile attack. And, in fact, the political gain was quich to come: President Rivlin and most party leaders are now backing the government, and the media is quick to reprimand the few who dare to voice their criticim.

By the time everyone wakes up, it might be too late. This is the moment, citizens, to make our voice heard, loud and clear.

When a war is waged for political aims, those who are forgotten are those who suffer all year long, already for many years - the residents of the South who live in ongoing fear and the residents of Gaza, who suffer a humanitarian crisis which is only getting worse. This round of fighting, like its predecessors, will not help them either - the situation in the south can only be resolved by an agreement and the lifting of the blockade imposed on Gaza. Every voice against this unnecessary war is a voice for the people on both sides of the Gaza border and for a better future for all of us.

Tell the European Union: Action and not just words!

On November 29 the Day of International Solidarity with the Palestinian People will take place worldwide.We, members of the Poalot group, intend to present the EU representative in Al Kuds- East Jerusalem the following letter on this day to request that the EU states recognize unilaterally and actively support the foundation of an Independent Palestinian State.

If you are interested in adding your signature to the attached letter and to the meeting, please send your name to Yuval by mail at the following address: shuster1761@gmail.comWarm Greetings, POALOT

Honored Elected Members of the European Unionת We,Palestinian and Israeli women and men residing on both sides of the Green Line,turn to you to implement the European Union’s endorsement of founding a Palestinian state with the borders of the 1949 ceasefire (until June 1967),including East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in its territory.

We request you to recognize the urgent presence of a sovereign Palestinian state at the United Nations’ institutions as well, and to support its founding regardless of Israel’s position on this issue.

We believe that the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, its siege of the Gaza Strip, and the annexation of East Jerusalem/Al Quds by the State of Israel are not legitimate.

The Palestinians have a right to found their own sovereign state in these territories, and the Palestinian refugees of 1948 as well as their descendants have a right to return to their own lands within the sovereign State of Israel.

These rights are officially accorded by UN Resolutions 194 and 242. The European Union has been maintaining elaborate ties with the State of Israel inits illegal borders, and thus your own government, too, bears a certain responsibility for the occupation, annexation, siege, and ethnic cleansing specified above.

Israel’s rulers view this occupation as legitimate and believe it should be continued. This is an ideological position, not a tactical one based on security anxieties. There is thus no basis for the claim prevalent in the world, according to which “peace will be obtained strictly through negotiations without any pre-conditions”.

Peace will be obtained if and only if a Palestinian state is to be founded in the 1967 borders and with Israel’s recognition of the Palestinians’ right of return to the lands and property from which they were expelled in 1948.

We hold the present Israeli government responsible for understanding that its ties with other countries will be impacted, even severed, if Israel does not fulfill its obligation. On such a basis there is room for a detailed negotiation in order to consolidate security arrangements and future relations between the states of Israel and Palestine.

Such a move is even more important in view of the coordinated actions of US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to perpetuate Israel’s occupation under the guise of “the deal of the century” whose sole purpose is to legitimize the occupation, as has already been done by Trump’s illegal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the Israeli occupation of the Golan.

It is the basic right of all humans to be free and live in peace and equality in their own states. This includes the Palestinian people, of course, who have been living for so many years as refugees and under a brutal military occupation.

We call upon you to follow the example of various countries that have already unilaterally recognized a sovereign, independent Palestinian state, and do so urgently.

Sincerely yours,

Settlers use crowbars to beat up rabbi, 80, who was aiding Palestinian olive harvest

Octogenarian Israeli activist and four foreigners injured in northern West Bank when assailants arrived with crowbars, went on to burn hundreds of trees, Yesh Din says

By Jacob Magid - Times of Israel

An 80-year-old Israeli activist said he “feared for his life” on Wednesday when a group of masked settler youth armed with crowbars charged at him and a group of largely foreign volunteers assisting Palestinian farmers with the annual olive harvest in the northern West Bank.

Rabbi Moshe Yehudai made the comments to Army Radio hours after he and fellow volunteers endured a brutal assault documented by rights groups at the scene.

Of the five volunteers who were injured, four were visiting from the US, UK and other European countries, said a field worker for the Yesh Din NGO. Yehudai, an Israeli activist from Rabbis for Human Rights, was the fifth person targeted, suffering blows to the arm and head. He was evacuated to the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba with a broken arm.

Rabbis for Human Rights recruits Israeli and foreign volunteers to accompany Palestinians, who say they face regular intimidation and violence while tending to crops located near settlements throughout the West Bank.

On Wednesday morning, roughly ten volunteers were assisting Palestinian farmers from the villages of Burin and Haware when a group of over 30 masked settlers descended from Yitzhar, a settlement identified by the Israeli security establishment as a hotbed for extremism, according to a Yesh Din field worker.

The Yesh Din field worker who spoke to The Times of Israel said that he arrived at the scene shortly after the assault began. After an IDF jeep was seen from a distance making its way to the field, the settler youth ignited a brushfire and retreated toward Yitzhar. At which point, the army vehicle turned around, the NGO staffer said.

Firefighter planes were dispatched to the scene to put out the fire which burned down hundreds of olive trees, some decades old, according to Yesh Din.

An IDF spokeswoman said she was looking into the incident, but was unable to provide any additional information.

A Yesh Din volunteer with wounds sustained during an altercation with The foreign volunteers filed a report at a nearby police station in the settlement of Ariel, but a spokeswoman for law enforcement could not provide any details on whether an investigation had been opened.

A statement from Yitzhar settlement later Wednesday blamed the incident on “provocations caused by extreme-left activists,” who together with Palestinian approached the settlement, which the statement said created “a security hazard.”

Speaking from the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance that tended to his injuries near the scene of the assault, Yehudai recalled assisting the Palestinian farmers with the other volunteers when the settlers charged at them.

“Suddenly, the settlers came with their faces [covered]. They started running at us, they surrounded me, threw rocks at me, hit me with crowbars, giving me a head injury,” he said.

“I told them I’m 80-years-old. Leave me alone,” he added, lamenting that the assailants refused to do so.

The incident came as the annual olive harvest was just beginning. More than 100,000 Palestinian families rely to some extent on the income they generate from their olives and some 18 percent of Palestinian agricultural production comes from olives, according to statistics from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The harvest is a frequent site of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers that the Israel Defense Forces says it seeks to prevent.

Palestinian media and rights groups have reported multiple cases of Israelis interfering with the annual harvest, attacking Palestinians, stealing olives and uprooting trees.

In many places, farmers say they face intimidation and violence from nearby extremist settlers and call in help from both foreign and Israeli supporters, including Jewish rabbis, to protect them and their crops.

Some of the incidents are seen as attempts at revenge following Palestinian attacks on Israelis, even if the farmers targeted were not involved.

In other cases, rights groups say, there is little motivation other than just to destroy Palestinian property.

Israeli settlers charge that their crops have also been damaged by Palestinians, including one incident in May 2018 when around 1,000 grapevines were destroyed.

Hate crime

Also Wednesday morning, residents of the central West Bank village of Deir Ammar woke up to find 10 vehicles vandalized and walls spray-painted with Hebrew slogans in the latest apparent hate crime targeting Palestinians over the Green Line.

Phrases daubed on cars and walls included: “When our brothers are being murdered, it is our obligation to not forget” and “The nation of Israel lives,” according to a Yesh Din field worker who arrived at the scene and provided photos of the damages.

Police said they were aware of the incident and were looking into the matter.

Last week, law enforcement opened an investigation after Palestinians in the northern West Bank village of Qira woke up to find 13 vehicles vandalized and Hebrew-language hate messages graffitied on walls throughout the town.

Among the phrases spray-painted in the town north of the Ariel settlement were “There is no room for enemies in Israel” and “When Jews are hurt, it is our obligation not to forget.”

Footage from security cameras in Qira caught several masked individuals walking through the village and slashing tires of a tractor and other vehicles in their path.

Abdullah Kamil, the Governor of the Salfit District in which Qira resides, told Haaretz that the Israeli government “bears responsibility for the crime and the repeated attacks by settlers.”

Despite the dozens of hate crimes targeting Palestinians and their property over the past year, few perpetrators are ever arrested or charged, according to rights groups.

The incidents, often referred to as price tag attacks, are usually limited to arson and graffiti, but have sometimes included physical assaults and even murder.

In December, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a report that showed a 69% increase in settler attacks on Palestinians in 2018 compared to 2017.


Settlers attack olive harvesters, Israeli volunteers in West Bank village

Masked settlers uproot olive trees, set groves ablaze, and beat several Israeli volunteers with stones and metal rods in the West Bank village of Burin.

Masked men from the settlement of Yitzhar wielding metal rods and stones attacked volunteers from Rabbis for Human Rights, a human rights organization based in Israel, while they were picking olives alongside Palestinian farmers in the West Bank village of Burin on Wednesday. According to a spokesperson for the organization, settlers set fire to the olive groves, causing a blaze that spread rapidly and burned for hours.

Rabbi Moshe Yehudai, a member of Rabbis for Human Rights’ board, was taken to Meir Medical Center after suffering severe wounds. He recounted the incident while lying on a gurney in an ambulance, as medics bandaged his head. One of the masked youths had hit him on the head with an iron rod, while another instructed him to leave. “I told them to leave me alone, that I am 80 years old and cannot run,” he said.

Avi Dabush, the executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, said the incident highlighted the lawlessness in the West Bank, stressing that the volunteers would not be deterred from helping the Palestinian farmers as they harvest their olives. “For the last 17 years we have helped with the harvest, and we will continue to stand up against violent bullies,” he said, adding that this was the only way toward a peaceful joint future between Jews and Arabs living on the land.

AFP reported that Israel sent fire extinguishing planes to extinguish the fire set by the settlers. Researchers for Israeli human rights group Yesh Din estimate that the blaze consumed hundreds of acres of farmland in Burin and Huwara, both villages in the Nablus area.

The Rabbis for Human Rights spokesperson said that a group of settlers had threatened the farmers earlier in the week, threatening to beat them and vandalize their crops. The army has failed to protect the farmers from settler attacks, he noted. Israel’s occupation policies often prevent Palestinians from accessing their own lands, while violent settlers are allowed to roam freely.

Earlier on Wednesday morning, residents of the village of Deir Ammar woke up to discover that unknown vandals, most likely settlers from nearby outposts, had slashed tires and spray-painted Hebrew slogans and Stars of David on their homes and on their cars.

No involvement of medical teams in torture!

Samer Arbid is currently treated at Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital. He was arrested on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 and taken for ISA interrogation at the Russian Compound detention facility in Jerusalem.

The ISA received approval from a legal official to use “special measures” to interrogate Arbid. On Friday, September 27, 2019, Arbid was taken to hospital in life-threatening condition. According to information current on Tuesday, October 1, 2019, Arbid was intubated and in a coma.

The possibility of violence against him during the arrest itself cannot be ruled out, and inquiries should be made as to whether he was medically examined prior to reaching the detention facility. According to Israel Prison Service (IPS) procedures, any person arriving at a detention facility must be examined by a physician within 48 hours of arrival, and according to need thereafter. Given that according to the accounts of Arbid’s lawyers and relatives, he was in good health prior to his arrest, it can be inferred that the violence used against him during his arrest and/or interrogation was the cause of the downturn in his condition, to the point of his life being at risk.

After Arbid was taken to hospital, his lawyers and family contacted the hospital several times to receive an update on his condition. These attempts included his wife arriving in person at the ICU on Wednesday October 1, 2019 and personal communications with the staff. All of these requests were denied.

PHRI also contacted the hospital twice (on September 29 and October 1, 2019), copying the Ministry of Health, the Israel Medical Association, and the Civil Administration Health Coordinator with a demand that Arbid’s family be notified of his condition, that any signs of violence be documented according to the provisions of the Declaration of Tokyo and the Istanbul Protocol, and that the Committee for Physician Reports on Interrogatee Abuse, which was established within the Ministry of Health in 2011, be informed.

The response we received from the director of Hadassah Mount Scopus on October 2, 2019, stated that “information regarding hospital patients is privileged, in keeping with our obligation to maintain medical confidentiality. Inquiries concerning detainees should be addressed to the security agencies”. Reporters who have had contact with the hospital told PHRI the hospital informed them the case has been reported to the Ministry of Health.

Following the hospital’s response, PHRI contacted the legal department of the Israel Medical Association by telephone, asking they take action to have the hospital provide Arbid’s wife with an update. The Israel Medical Association responded that Ethics Committee Chair, Dr. Tami Karni, was currently abroad, and that per inquiries with the Israel Medical Association legal department, they were unable to do anything at the moment.

During a hearing of a motion filed by Arbid’s lawyers to have him released given his medical state, Military Judge Major Merav Hershkwitz Yitzhaki stated: “The suspect’s medical state is gradually improving and his interrogation may resume in the coming days”. Arbid’s lawyers received an update on his medical condition according to a decision issued by the military judge. ICRC representatives visited Arbid at the hospital on October 2, 2019 and gave his wife an update about his condition.

Following this statement, members of the boards of directors of PHRI and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, as well as members of PHRI’s ethics committee, contacted the hospital, the Israel Medical Association, the Ministry of Health and the IPS, demanding that the medical staff at Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital safeguard Samer Arbid’s life and health and adhere to medical ethics. The letter stressed that the medical staff must actively prevent his return to an interrogation in which the use of special measures amounting to torture has reportedly been approved, and that the hospital must prevent any use of its premises for interrogation purposes.

In its last communication, PHRI repeated the main provisions of the Declaration of Tokyo and the Istanbul Protocol, which have been adopted by the Israel Medical Association and relate to the conduct of medical crews with respect to suspected torture. PHRI took out an ad displaying the provisions of the Declaration of Tokyo in Haaretz daily newspaper this morning.

We will continue our advocacy work with the relevant institutions and the medical community both in Israel and abroad to ensure all those involved adhere to medical ethics.

We repeat our request that you join us and take whatever action you can in order to remind your colleagues of the need to adhere to ethical rules and keep patients safe from torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Following Samer Arbid’s hospitalization in critical condition after his arrest and interrogation by the Israel Security Agency (ISA), PHRI recalls, again, that medical professionals are absolutely prohibited from taking part in torture in any way and have an obligation to take measures to protect patients who may have been or later could be subjected to torture. Given the silence of medical institutions regarding Arbid’s case so far, we ask members of PHRI’s medical teams to take action and contact the relevant medical institutions and staff and urge them to follow the ethical guidelines as enunciated in the Declaration of Tokyo and the Istanbul Protocol.

Sincerely, Anat Litvin Director of the Prisoners and Detainees Department Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI)

We Are Ending Netanyahu’s Grip on Israel

The following article published in the New York Times by Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of predominantly Arab parties, is important enough to be reproduced here in full.

The Gush Shalom Team

JERUSALEM — The Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel have chosen to reject Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his politics of fear and hate, and the inequality and division he advanced for the past decade.

Last summer, Mr. Netanyahu declared that Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up a fifth of the population, were to be second-class citizens, officially. “Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” Mr. Netanyahu wrote on Instagram ( israel-is-not-a-state-of-all-its-citizens) after passing the Nation-State law ( arabic.html?module=inline). “According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and only it.”

The Israeli government has done everything in its power to reject those of us who are Arab Palestinian citizens, but our influence has only grown. We will be the cornerstone of democracy. Arab Palestinian citizens cannot change the course of Israel alone, but change is impossible without us.

I have argued earlier ( election.html?module=inline) that if the center-left parties of Israel believe that Arab Palestinian citizens have a place in this country, they must accept that we have a place in its politics.

Today, those parties no longer have a choice. At least 60 percent of the Arab Palestinian citizens ( parties-election.html?module=inline) have voted in the recent elections, and the Joint List, our coalition representing Arab and Arab-Jewish parties, has won 13 seats and become the third-largest list in the Knesset. We will decide who will be the next prime minister of Israel.

On behalf of the Joint List, I am recommending that Israel’s president choose Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White party, to be the next prime minister. This will be the most significant step toward helping create the majority needed to prevent another term for Mr. Netanyahu - and it should be the end of his political career.

My colleagues and I have made this decision not as an endorsement of Mr. Gantz and his policy proposals for the country. We are aware that Mr. Gantz has refused to commit to our legitimate political demands for a shared future, and because of that we will not join his government.

Our demands for a shared, more equal future are clear: We seek resources to address violent crime plaguing Arab cities and towns, housing and planning laws that afford people in Arab municipalities the same rights as their Jewish neighbors and greater access for people in Arab municipalities to hospitals. We demand raising pensions for all in Israel so that our elders can live with dignity, and creating and funding a plan to prevent violence against women.

We seek the legal incorporation of unrecognized — mostly Palestinian Arab — villages and towns that don’t have access to electricity or water. And we insist on resuming direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace treaty that ends the occupation and establishes an independent Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders. We call for repealing the nation-state law that declared me, my family and one-fifth of the population to be second-class citizens. It is because over the decades candidates for prime minister have refused to support an agenda for equality that no Arab or Arab-Jewish party has recommended a prime minister since 1992.

Yet this time, we are making a different choice. We have decided to demonstrate that Arab Palestinian citizens can no longer be rejected or ignored. Our decision to recommend Mr. Gantz as the next prime minister without joining his expected national unity coalition government is a clear message that the only future for this country is a shared future, and there is no shared future without the full and equal participation of Arab Palestinian citizens.

The morning after the exclusionary “nation-state” law was passed, I drove my children to school and thought about raising them in a country that has repeatedly rejected Arab Palestinian children. Israeli governments have made this rejection clear time and again, from the years of military rule imposed on Arabs in Israel from the founding of the state until 1966, to the longstanding attempts to suppress Palestinian culture** **and the continuing decision to occupy the lands and lives of our sisters and brothers in the West Bank and Gaza.

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Every time I take my youngest daughter, Sham, to her school, I see a passage written on the wall from the Book of Psalms: “The stone that the builders rejected became a cornerstone.”

By choosing to recommend Mr. Gantz, we have proven that cooperation between people, Arab and Jewish, is the only principled political strategy that will lead to a better future for us all. Coun