August 30, 2010

Mother of sick 3-year-old stranded in Gaza

Ma’an - HEBRON – The father of a 3-year-old girl suffering from cerebral atrophy is appealing for his wife and sons to be allowed to leave Gaza and return to the family home in the West Bank.

Osama Rasras, from Beit Ummar near Hebron, said his three children travelled with their mother to Gaza to visit his wife’s sick father. Israeli authorities would not allow them to leave for 18 months, during which time Dalal could not access medical treatment.

Eventually Israel allowed Dalal to return to the West Bank but refused to permit her mother or two brothers to return.

Rasras, who works in a factory and looks after Dalal, explained, “I began to play the role of a mother and father together. I cook, wash clothes, and arrange the house.”

The girl, who was born with a lack of oxygen to her brain, suffers frequent convulsions and comas, which threaten her healthy organs, her father said. The physiotherapy and surgery Dalal needs is unavailable in the West Bank, and currently she is receiving no medical treatment at all.

Rasras was unable to get the necessary references from the health ministry in order for her to receive treatment in the West Bank, he said, adding the medical costs of 150 shekels (around $40) would be beyond his means.

“I cannot find suitable treatment for my child, all of the efforts by human rights and political organizations to allow my wife in to the West Bank have failed. My family was torn apart,” he added.

Rasras appealed to President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and international organizations for help to bring his wife and sons, Ahmed and Omar, back to their home in the West Bank, and to facilitate access to medical care for Dalal.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls on Israel to release anti-wall leader

Desmond Tutu at the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag in Cologne 2007. [Wikipedia]

Ma'an - BETHLEHEM – Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa expressed concern Saturday over the conviction of a Palestinian anti-wall campaign leader by an Israeli military court for his involvement in non-violent protests.

"I am deeply concerned about the conviction earlier this week of Abdallah Abu Rahmah by an Israeli military court. When I met him with my fellow Elders last year, we were very impressed by his commitment to non-violence and the wise leadership he showed," Tutu said in a statement.

"He and his fellow activists have had some success in challenging the wall that divides the people of Bil’in from their land. Israel’s attempt to crack down on this effective resistance movement by criminalizing peaceful protest is unacceptable and unjust," he added.

Tutu called on Israeli authorities to release Abu Rahmah "immediately and unconditionally."

Abu Rahmah, well regarded for organizing the weekly rallies against the wall in his native village Bil'in, near Ramallah, was convicted by an Israeli military court on 24 August. According to his supporters, Abu Rahmah's conviction was based solely on the testimony of minors who were arrested in the middle of the night and denied legal counsel despite significant ills in their questioning.

The General Delegation of the PLO to the US condemned the conviction "in the strongest possible terms."

"We call on the Israeli government to release Abdallah Abu Rahmah and all other Palestinian political prisoners from its jails immediately in accordance with international law and as a gesture of goodwill towards the peace talks that are about to begin in Washington," the PLO office said in a statement.

On Tuesday, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton expressed her concern over the conviction.

August 29, 2010

2 Workers Injured by Israeli Gunshots

Ma'an - GAZA CITY – Two Palestinians were injured by Israeli fire near the border fence separating Gaza from Israel, medics said.
Director of ambulance and emergency services in Gaza Muawiya Hassanein said Sharif Sa'id Ghubn, 25, and Rami Ibrahim Ghubn, 18, were transferred to hospital with bullet wounds, which he described as moderate.

The men were collecting rubble north of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza to make cement, Hassanein said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said forces saw a number of people close to the border, and asked them to identify themselves. When the men failed to do so, Israeli soldiers opened fire, she said, adding that she was only aware of one injury. The spokeswoman noted that Israel considers the area a combat zone.

Under Israel's siege policy, the entry of construction materials into the Strip is heavily restricted. A report by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in May said restrictions on the import of cement have made it "impossible" to reconstruct the 12,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed by the Israeli military, or to build a further 20,000 homes needed to accommodate natural population growth in the Strip.

Several incidents of Israeli fire at the border have resulted in injuries over the last month. On 16 August, Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian man during clashes along the southern border.

Two weeks previously, Bilal Ibrahim Obeid, 22, was injured by live fire at the border and in a separate incident three men sustained gunshot wounds close to the fence. Reports suggested the men were collecting cement aggregates from the area.

August 27, 2010

Children's group concerned about home demolitions

Palestinian children on the ruins of their homes demolished by Israeli occupation forces. (Al Jazeera)

Ma'an - BETHLEHEM – Since the beginning of 2010, there has been a sharp increase in house demolitions in Area C, Defense for Children - Palestine said in a report expressing concern about the effects such actions have on children.

Displacement has an acute negative psychological impact on children, the group said in a statement issued Saturday. It called on Israel to "cease these demolitions and to respect the rights of Palestinian children to an adequate standard of living."

August 26, 2010

Palestinians, Israeli forces clash in Jerusalem (w/ Video)

Scuffle with settlers sparks clashes in Silwan (Ma'an News Agency)

Ma'an - JERUSALEM – Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood said settlers attempted to enter the Al-Ein Mosque early Thursday morning, sparking skirmishes that lasted until after sunrise.

Israeli forces arrived as locals said they were attempting to drive the settlers out of the mosque area. Two settler cars were torched, and several windshields smashed in the violence.

The incoming border police force was described as "massive," and said to have been firing tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets toward Palestinians.

Firefighters called to put out the car blazes were reportedly confronted by angered residents in the area, Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported. According to the newspaper, four cars and two motorcycles were set alight.

A 22-year-old settler was said to have been injured, and the paper quoted a settler leader from the area, denying claims that an attempt to gain access to the mosque had caused the clash.

Israeli police said they were looking into the incident.

In the West Bank, three recent incidents of settlers vandalizing mosques have put residents on edge. In December, a Yasuf village mosque was torched and 12 settlers from the Yizhar settlement were detained for their role in the incident. Also in the Nablus region, settlers torched a second mosque in May, Al-Lubban Ash-Sharqiya villagers said settlers drove up to the mosque, gathered flammables, and set them alight.

In June, officials from the Islamic Waqf said a recent wave of settlers moving into Jaffa, a Palestinian city now south of Tel Aviv, attempted to set ablaze the Jaffa Mosque as it was undergoing repairs.


Amnesty Int'l Finland: Israel Scum State

An infant shot dead by an Israeli soldier.

JPost - BERLIN – The head of Amnesty International’s Finnish branch, Frank Johansson, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that he stands by his statement that Israel is a “scum state.”

Writing in his blog, which appears on the Web site of Finland’s third largest newspaper Iltalehti, Johansson wrote on Monday that “A friend of mine who works in Israel was visiting [and] while piling wood in the shed, we got to [talking about] his favourite topic. [After] several years of residence in the Holy Land, he has come to the conclusion that ‘Israel is a scum state.’ Based on my own visit[s], which occurred during the 1970s and for the last time in the 1990s, I agree.”

An English translation of Johansson’s blog first appeared Tuesday on the Web site Tundra Tabloids, a pro-Israel blog that monitors anti-Israeli sentiments in the Finnish media and blogosphere.

A Palestinian child shot dead by an Israeli soldier.
Speaking from Finland, Kenneth Sikorski, who runs the Web site and picked up Johansson’s remarks, told The Jerusalem Post that Johansson’s comments are “absolutely atrocious and indicative of a problem of systematic anti-Semitism.”

Asked why he termed Israel a “scum state,” Johansson told the Post in a telephone interview that it was because Israel has “repeatedly flouted international law,” and due to his “personal experiences inside and outside of Israel with meeting Israelis.”

Johansson said that his remarks were not anti-Semitic. “I actually praise Breaking the Silence,” he said, referring to an Israeli organization claiming to collect and share testimonies of former IDF soldiers over human rights violations they allegedly witnessed, while rarely providing names of troops, dates and locations of these incidents.

Asked whether there are other countries aside from Israel that, according to him, meet the definition of a “scum state,” Johansson did not specify any, but noted that there are “Russian officials” who meet the criteria.

August 25, 2010

Jaffa woman fired over hijab returns to work

Palestinian citizen of Israel fired for wearing headscarf returns to work. (Ma'an News Agency)

Ma'an - QALQILIYA – A Palestinian woman with Israeli citizenship returned to work Tuesday as a cashier for an Israeli supermarket in Jaffa that fired her for wearing a Muslim head covering.

Ilham Karajah was reinstated to her position after a meeting between Jaffa Municipal Council member Ahmad Masharawi and the general manager of the Avi Shuq supermarket chain.

"I am glad Karajah returned to work ... Jaffa is a mixed city which is home to a large number of Arab citizens. The decision to discharge was negative and dangerous," Masharawi said, adding that the community would have organized rallies had the decision not been overturned.

(VIDEO) International protesters take on Eden Abergil's Facebook photos

BIL'IN – Demonstrators protesting Israel's construction of the illegal West Bank separation wall in the village of Bil'in mocked on Friday the Facebook photos that surfaced last week of an Israeli soldier posing next to handcuffed, blindfolded Palestinians.

Demonstrators in Bil'in reenact Eden Abergil's Facebook photos. [Photo: Hamde Abu Rahma]

Eden Abergil's photos sparked widespread outrage and condemnation across the world. The Palestinian Authority condemned the photos, and the Israeli army also issued a statement condemning Abergil's behavior. Abergil herself maintained she did nothing wrong. 'I would gladly kill Arabs - even slaughter them', she wrote.

The photos also became something of an internet meme, inspiring numerous parodies, culminating in Friday's protest in Bil'in, in which international, Palestinian and Israeli demonstrators donned blindfolds, posing as the detainees in Abergil’s photos. The demonstrators sat along the road to the Israeli barrier, directly in front of Israeli soldiers sent to crack down on the demonstration. The soldiers responded by detaining demonstrators, carrying one female protester away by her arms and legs, and by deploying tear gas.


Despite the intense heat, on the second Friday of Ramadan, a sizable march organized by the Popular Committee commenced from the center of the village of Bil’in at midday on Friday.
As the protesters neared the separation wall and approached the soldiers with pictures of other Israeli soldiers posing and torturing prisoners, tear gas was fired heavily at the protesters and journalists. Clashes continued for hours when the Israeli military attempted to advance into the village.
A journalist was wounded and dozens suffered tear gas inhalation.

August 24, 2010

Dismal lack of classrooms in East Jerusalem

Ma'an - BETHLEHEM – The education of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem is subject to "ongoing neglect," a joint report issued by two Israeli rights group said Tuesday.

The Association of Civil Rights in Israel and Jerusalem-based NGO Ir Amim say the education system in East Jerusalem remains short of 1,000 classrooms for Palestinian students. According to the report, only 39 schools were built for Palestinians over the past year despite promises made in court to build 644 by 2011.

The rights groups accused the Israeli government of bias citing the Education Law, which requires the state to provide education equally to all residents of the city. "Thousands of Palestinian pupils study in crowded classrooms, often in ill-fitting buildings. Many have to turn to private education, and thousands who cannot afford the pay stay at home," the report said.

More than 40,000 pupils in East Jerusalem attend private schools, the report found, noting the high tuition that many families scrape to afford. Some 5,300 children do not study at all, the rights groups' statistics revealed.

"The Israeli government is neither taking an interest in them nor is making efforts to return them to the education system," the report read. Only 39,523 of 82,250 Palestinian pupils, accounting for 48.05 percent of the children, attend public schools.

About half of the classrooms (647 out of a total of 1,398) were sub-standard while a quarter were in "inappropriate conditions," the report found. The state of classrooms, researchers said, forces thousands of students to study in often rented buildings lacking ventilation, libraries, laboratories, and playgrounds.

Poor conditions were cited as being the central factor behind a 50-percent dropout rate before the end of high school.

"The dire state of the education system in East Jerusalem demonstrates that the concept of 'a unified Jerusalem' is not valid," said Ir Amim executive director Yehudith Oppenheimer. "The authorities claim that Jerusalem is unified, but at the same time they continue to ignore their legal commitments to the children of East Jerusalem."

"The severe neglect of the education system in East Jerusalem is brewing a catastrophe," added Tali Nir, a lawyer with the Association of Civil Rights.

An analysis of the construction figures by Ir Amim together with the Association for Civil Rights shows that since 2001, only 257 classrooms have been built in East Jerusalem.

An Education Ministry spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.

August 23, 2010

Netanyahu: Jewishness of Israel in return for an agreement

Al Jazeera - After spending weeks angrily insisting that any direct peace talks with the Palestinians be “unconditional,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today issued a number of demands for the talks to proceed.

Palestinian recognition of what he called the Jewishness of Israel is one of the conditions to reach a peace agreement, pointing out that this agreement is very difficult but possible.

Netanyahu said to his ministers in their weekly session that there are three basic conditions Israel upholds for the conclusion of the agreement, which are achieving the Israeli security considerations and a Palestinian recognition of Israel as a State for the Jews, and that this agreement constitutes the end of the conflict.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu confirmed that the 26 of next month is the expiry date of the decision to freeze settlement activities as decided by his government.

Israeli sources have revealed that security arrangements will be the first issue Israel demands to be discussed in the framework of the expected direct negotiations with the Palestinians.

Israeli Radio quoted unnamed Israeli sources, that Tel Aviv will demand to keep the Jordan Valley and the peaks of mountains overlooking it under its control to ensure Israeli control of airspace and "to prevent the smuggling of weapons and the infiltration of saboteurs" into the territory of a future Palestinian State.

Israel also demanded that the prospective Palestinian State not be allowed to have any military of its own and only have State police forces, while prohibited from holding any security agreement with any third party without the consent of Israel.

According to the radio, contacts were underway to determine the agenda of the talks that will be conducted by Netanyahu with President Barack Obama and other leaders and officials, who will participate in the launch of direct negotiations to be held in Washington early next month.

August 21, 2010

Israel Lobby Paid Off U.S. Journalists To Sell Israeli Foreign Policy

Declassified documents take on deeper significance in light of Jeffrey Goldberg and The Atlantic Monthly’s efforts to propagandize for an attack on Iran.

By Paul Joseph Watson

Newly declassified documents highlighting how the Israeli lobby routinely paid off journalists in the U.S. corporate media to write pro-Zionist propaganda in support of Israeli aggression against Palestine and Iran during the 60’s have taken on new significance after the Atlantic Monthly, which is named in the documents as being complicit in the bribing scandal, recently published a cover story hyping the necessity and inevitability of an Israeli attack on Iran.

“Declassified files from a Senate investigation into Israeli-funded covert public relations and lobbying activity in the United States were released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on July 23rd, 2010. The subpoenaed documents reveal Israel’s clandestine programs for “cultivation of editors,” the “stimulation and placement of suitable articles in the major consumer magazines” as well as U.S. reporting about sensitive subjects such as the Dimona nuclear weapons facility,” reports the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy.

The documents make specific reference to The Atlantic Monthly publication, and how “arrangements” were made with The Atlantic to publish articles sympathetic to Israel and hostile to Palestine and Iran.

The files also mention other news sources, such as the Scripps-Howard chain, that the lobby planned to penetrate in order to achieve a “break through,” in other words news sources that the lobby had not yet been able to pressure and pay off as progenitors of Israeli propaganda.

One of the excerpts from the files describes the achievements of the so-called “Magazine Committee” in placing propaganda in U.S. media outlets, stating, “We cannot pinpoint all that has already been accomplished by this Committee except to say that it has been responsible for the writing and placement of articles on Israel in some of America’s leading magazines.”

The lobby was also active in assisting the U.S. media in its cover up of The Lavon Affair, which centered around false-flag Israeli terrorist attacks on U.S. government facilities in Egypt.

Appearing on Russia Today, Institute for Research on Middle Eastern Policy director Grant F. Smith said the Senate investigation focused around, “Looking into groups who brought $36 million dollars into the U.S. to plant stories in the U.S. media and promote Israeli foreign policy objectives in the United States,” adding that the documents from the investigation were extremely relevant “because they reveal a vast effort to divert U.S. attention from the Israeli Dimona nuclear weapons facility by saying it was merely a research center,” even as Israel now obsessively hypes the supposed threat of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

When the individuals responsible for the illegal program were outed, the activities of the group were merely transferred into the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), noted Grant, which continues today as the foremost Israeli lobbying entity.

Watch the clip below:

The revelation contained in the declassified documents, that $50,000 dollars was funneled to The Atlantic Magazine in order to derail a U.S. peace proposal related to Palestine, is particularly alarming given the fact that The Atlantic is now, “On the forefront of an AIPAC drive to get the United States to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities,” stated Grant.

Indeed, The Atlantic’s cover story this month, written by dual Israeli-U.S. national Jeffrey Goldberg, is entitled The Point of No Return, and amounts to nothing less than a manipulative public relations offensive to convince reads of the inevitability and necessity of attacking Iran.

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald savages the article, pointing out that it employs the familiar propaganda tactic of comparing Iran with Nazi Germany.

“No discussion of any of this is complete without noting that it was endlessly claimed that it was Saddam who was the New Hitler in order ratchet up fear levels and justify an attack that country, too. How many times can we be persuaded to attack the New Hitler?” asks Greenwald.

It’s hardly surprising that Goldberg would be so enthusiastic to sell the war on Iran, given that he was a former member of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and has spent his entire journalistic career promoting wars based on phony pretexts.

Goldberg’s 2002 New Yorker article entitled The Great Terror, was credited with providing a huge boost to the Bush administration’s argument for invading Iraq and was praised by ex-CIA director and habitual warmonger James Woolsey, while other critics savaged the piece as “a J-school nightmare: bad sources, compromised sources, unacknowledged uncertainties, and the whole text spun through with an alarmist rhetoric that is now either laughable or nauseating, depending on your mood.”

In The Great Terror, Goldberg propagandizes about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction and talks at length about the mythical ties between Saddam and Al-Qaeda, a thoroughly debunked connection that even Dick Cheney himself later had to admit was completely without merit.

“In five years , I believe that the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality,” Goldberg wrote in 2002, a startling example of how spectacularly wrong his forecast turned out to be.

Given this history of bias, agenda-driven and inaccurate reporting, Goldberg’s current Atlantic Monthly article should be dismissed for what it is – an artificially placed example of foreign propaganda – written by a dual citizen with the express purpose of hyping and promoting an attack on Iran.

“The Senate investigation ultimately failed in its efforts to regulate secret foreign media manipulation and lobbying. The AZC transformed into AIPAC, and today The Atlantic is virtually alone among remnants of the battered magazine industry in its return to profitability,” writes Grant Smith. “Jeffrey Goldberg’s prolific work no doubt helps propel that bottom line. But readers should remember the origin of deceptive waves of content that washed ashore in American magazines.”

August 19, 2010

Three seized by Israeli troops in Abu Dis, Hebron

Abu Dis graffiti on Wall (travelpod photo)

IMEMC - In two separate invasions Tuesday night, Israeli forces attacked the east Jerusalem town of Abu Dis, and the southern West Bank city of Hebron, to search for men listed on the army's 'Wanted' list.

Palestinians have long criticized the 'Wanted' list used by the military to round up suspects, saying that informants are the main source of information for who gets on the list, and the informants are extremely unreliable and prone to corruption and revenge.

Many Palestinians who are listed as 'Wanted' have never had any affiliation with any armed group, but may have been listed by an informant because of a personal or family grudge.

According to local sources, Israeli troops moved into the Palestinian town of Abu Dis, and seized two Palestinian men from their homes in the early morning hours of Wednesday.

In a separate invasion, Israeli troops moved into the town of Hebron, in the southern West Bank, and abducted one man from his home.

None of the detainees have been identified at this time.

August 16, 2010

Settlers uproot 200 olive trees south of Nablus

Ma'an - NABLUS – Israeli residents living on an illegal West Bank outpost uprooted over 200 olive trees near the Qusra village in the Nablus district Monday, a Palestinian Authority official said.

PA settlement affairs officer in the northern West Bank Ghassan Doughlas said residents of the nearby Svhut Rachel outpost ascended upon the village, uprooting the olive grove which belonged to Ali Abdul Hamid Mohammad Hassan.

Doughlas called on the international community to pressure Israel to stop settler attacks against Palestinians and their property.

August 15, 2010

August 14, 2010

Israel Bulldozes Ancient Cemetery in Jerusalem (VIDEO)

Al Jazeera - Israeli authorities continued bulldozing dozens of graves in the historic Islamic Ma'man Allah cemetery, and have bulldozed dozens of graves on Wednesday, while preventing journalists and photographers from filming the bulldozing and demolition, and assaulting some of them.

Under protection of the Israeli occupation forces, Israeli municipality workers bulldozed dozens of graves dating back hundreds of years in the cemetery - which came under Israeli occupation in 1948 - amid attacks on the journalists and any of the Palestinians who try to defend what remains of the cemetery.

Israel deliberately carries out the demolitions at night to avoid encountering journalists and Palestinians. Graves that were still standing were marked to complete their demolition on the following night.

According to press reports, the Israeli Government plans to build a so-called 'museum of tolerance' on the ancient Muslim cemetery.

Israeli municipality workers use a bulldozer to destroy graves at the Muslim cemetery "Ma'man Allah", which was recently renovated, in Jerusalem on August 10. (AFP)

The cemetery - which lies between east and west Jerusalem - contains the remains of more than 70 thousand, including notable historical and sacred religious figures buried more than 1400 years ago.

Family members of those buried in the Ma'man Allah cemetery say that when they have attempted to repair headstones and gravesites over the years, the repairs have been destroyed and removed by Israeli authorities, thus keeping the site in continual disrepair

Under Israel's "absentee property" law the cemetery was taken over by the Custodian of Absentee Property after Israel occupied the western part of Jerusalem in 1948.

Israel has dug up about 95% of the graves so far, and the estimated remaining area of the cemetery is 19000 square meters out of 700000 square meters.

It is worth noting that removing or desecrating the grave of someone is considered a severe offense according to Islamic tradition.

Another Christian ancient site was razed by Israel in Jerusalem earlier this month.

August 12, 2010

Pink Floyd, Elvis Costello, Santana and now UK band Faithless is boycotting Israel

Faithless performing at the iTunes Festival in London on 14 July 2010 (Photo Courtesy of

A slew of musicians recently canceled concerts in Israel in protest of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians and the deadly attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla on May 31st.

The list of performers boycotting Israel includes names like Pink Floyd, Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana and The Klaxons and Gorillaz Sound System. Now UK band Faithless is joining the list.

The group is best known for their dance songs ("Insomnia", "God Is a DJ" and "We Come 1"). Faithless have recorded six albums. During their career they have sold over 12 million records worldwide.

In August 2010, Faithless announced that they were joining the cultural boycott of Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Frontman Maxi Jazz said, "We've been asked to do some shows this summer in your country (Israel) and, with the heaviest of hearts, I have regretfully declined the invitation. While human beings are being wilfully denied not just their rights but their NEEDS for their children and grandparents and themselves, I feel deeply that I should not be sending even tacit signals that this is either 'normal' or 'ok'. It's neither and I cannot support it. It grieves me that it has come to this and I pray everyday for human beings to begin caring for each other, firm in the wisdom that we are all we have."

The boycott endorses the call made by numerous Palestinian trade unions and other campaign groups for a cultural and economic boycott of Israel in protest at its treatment of Palestinians.

August 11, 2010

PA: Israel detains diplomatic & media delegation in Qalqiliya

Ma'an - QALQILIYA – Israeli forces detained a diplomatic and media delegation in Qalqiliya on Monday, the Information Ministry reported.

The ministry organized a tour of the city, which is surrounded on all sides by the separation wall, to show the delegation of foreign diplomats the effect of the wall on residents’ lives.

During the tour, the group was detained inside a gate in the wall, the ministry said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was not familiar with such an incident.

August 10, 2010

Israeli bulldozer injures sheikh at Jerusalem cemetery

Hundreds homeless after Israeli units razed Al Araqib village in Negev last week (Al Jazeera)

Ma’an - JERUSALEM — Sheikh Ali Abu Sheikha was injured Tuesday when an Israeli bulldozer struck him while when he attempted to block a construction crew from bulldozing a section of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.

Abu Sheikha suffered moderate injuries but refused to leave the Mamilla (Ma'man Allah) cemetery, Ma'an's correspondent said.

An Israeli police spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Israeli bulldozers entered the cemetery Monday night and began taking down headstones from Muslim graves, the Jerusalem-based Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said.

The destruction of graves was the third event in just over a week with Israeli officials telling Ma'an that the graves were destroyed because they were "built illegally with the aim to take over the plot."

Officials with the foundation, who have been observing the area closely following incidents of destruction at the site, said they witnessed a heavy police presence in the area and called news outlets to cover the event.

Demolitions continued until Tuesday morning, a statement issued by the foundation said, adding that journalists who arrived to document the incident were assaulted by police.

Hundreds of tombstones were taken down, the report said, the largest destruction since 2009.

Waqf officials, charged with overseeing Muslim religious sites in Jerusalem, could not confirm how many grave stones were taken down, but said there was evidence of bulldozer activity in the area. Officials said surveyors with maps of the original layout of the area would be dispatched to count how many had been destroyed.

The religious endowment department said it would ensure that officials from the Waqf were present overnight in the coming days to ensure the safety of the grave sites.

The first reports of demolitions came on Wednesday, when at least 15 tombstones and structures were torn apart or dismantled. The incident was the first reported since 2009, when over 1,500 tombstones were disinterred to make way for a controversial Museum of Tolerance. The foundation quickly denounced the move, describing it as a "heinous crime."

Most of the graves are unrecognizable and in disrepair, owing to decades of neglect. Descendants of those buried there say personal attempts to replace or maintain tombstones have been repeatedly quashed and swiftly removed by Israeli authorities. The Al-Aqsa Foundation's renovation crew says the municipality regularly thwarts their attempts to maintain the site.

The municipality says it "will not allow extremist elements to act illegally to change the status quo."

Israeli ambassador oversteps mandate, says Gaza aid group

A humanitarian ship that was attacked by Israeli forces on the open sea (AFP) 

Kia Ora Gaza, whose six-person Kiwi Team will join September’s international aid convoy to Gaza, believes Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand is exceeding his diplomatic mandate.
Speaking to TV1 on 9th August the Israeli ambassador, Shemi Dzur, claimed Kia Ora Gaza was being “provocative” and stated: “This is not a natural Kiwi operation – this is really a hatred kind of operation to undermine Israel.”

The ambassador’s comments were rejected by the Gaza aid group.

“The actions of Kia Ora Gaza are legal under both New Zealand and international law,” said Roger Fowler, captain of the Kiwi aid team.

“Kia Ora Gaza is on a peaceful humanitarian mission. We are fund-raising to deliver aid to people in Gaza. They are suffering under an Israeli siege which has been condemned by the United Nations, International Red Cross and most other world bodies.”

“The Israeli ambassador represents a state which imprisons the people of Gaza, and hijacks humanitarian ships on the open sea and shoots civilian aid workers. In a bid to justify the unjustifiable, the ambassador is now attacking Kia Ora Gaza.”

“The Israeli ambassador’s public attack on Kia Ora Gaza oversteps his diplomatic mandate which prohibits him from attacking New Zealand citizens inside their own country,” said Mr Fowler.


In Photos: 3rd Destruction of Al-Araqib Village by Israeli Forces

Early this morning, Israeli forces destroyed the rickety shacks villagers built since the demolition last week in Al Araqib village. Thanks to the activists who shot these photos and sent them.

August 9, 2010

Israel destroys 3 more homes in Negev

JERUSALEM — Israeli authorities demolished three houses in the western Negev on Monday, local officials said.

The houses in Abda village belonged to the At-Tantawi family, the Abda regional council said.

Ibrahim Al-Waqeely, head of the council, condemned the timing of the demolitions during a heat wave and a few days before the holy month of Ramadan, as families prepare to fast.

Villagers will remain on their land, Al-Waqeely said, despite "continuous provocations" by Israeli forces.

An Israeli police spokesman said he was not familiar with such an incident.

A Bedouin village which Israel considered unrecognized was destroyed in late July.


August 8, 2010

Flotilla ship 'painted' to cover bullet holes

BETHLEHEM — The Turkish organizers of a Gaza-bound aid boat said Saturday that Israeli authorities painted over "thousands of bullets" in one of their recently returned ships.

Huseyin Oruc of the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid told Reuters upon the Mavi Marmara's return that "When they captured the boats, the Israelis hid all of this proof on the outside of the boat."

Reporters, according to the BBC, said the ship did appear to have been freshly painted.

Turkish prosecutors will board the vessels Monday to look for evidence of what happened during the raid on the flotilla, which was trying to reach Gaza with 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid.

Nine Turkish nationals were killed aboard the ship on 31 May. It was then sequestered at the Ashdod port.

Israeli Navy opens fire at Lebanese fishing boat

BETHLEHEM — The Israeli army confirmed Sunday that a naval vessel opened fire at a Lebanese fishing boat over the weekend, Israeli media reported.

An army statement said no damage or injury was caused, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

On Saturday, the Lebanese army issued a statement saying an Israeli gunboat “fired several bursts toward Lebanese territorial waters” off Lebanon’s southern coast at 4a.m., NOW Lebanon reported.

The incident follows recent increased tensions along the border following clashes on Tuesday in the border village of Aadeisha, during which one Israeli soldier, two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist were killed.

The clashes, the fiercest since the second Lebanon war in 2006, were reportedly ignited when Israeli forces attempted to uproot a tree to install surveillance equipment.

At the time, a Lebanese army spokesperson said that Israeli forces were attempting to uproot a tree on the Lebanese side, while the Israeli army said it was on Israeli territory.

August 7, 2010

VIDEO - Inside Story - Blue Line tensions [report on clashes at Lebanon-Israel border]

Trouble is brewing at the Israel-Lebanon border. At least five people were killed and several others wounded. The Lebanese army has confirmed that it opened fire on Israeli forces for reportedly crossing the border fence and cutting trees in its territory. So, in this tense situation in a highly volatile region, could a new war be averted?

55 arrests and home demolitions continue in West Bank

Israeli occupation forces constantly wage arrest campaigns, most recently in the city of Hebron a few days ago (Reuters)

By Awad Rajoub - Hebron

Israeli occupation forces launched an arrest campaign at dawn on Thursday in the town of Jalbun, east of Jenin in the northern West Bank, while Israeli bulldozers resumed demolishing homes and facilities especially in northern West Bank. Meanwhile, settlers broke into the area of Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, claiming prayers.
The chairman of the town council, Omar Abu al-Rub, confirmed that large numbers of occupation Forces and military vehicles stormed the town at dawn on Thursday, launching wide scale raid campaigns that involved more than thirty homes.

The raids ended on Thursday morning with the arrest of about fifty people. While most have been freed, eight remain under arrest, Abu al-Rub said.

Israeli occupation forces also arrested five Palestinians from the village of Assira in Nablus, and another from the town of Deir Estia in the occupied West Bank.

Meanwhile, some five hundred settlers arrived at the city of Nablus at dawn on Thursday, under the pretext of performing religious rites at Joseph's Tomb.

The visit was preceded by mobilization of the occupation forces, which have spread around the region and the roads to ensure the arrival of the settlers.

The Palestinian Prisoner Affairs minister, Issa Karake, said Friday that the Government of Israel has arrested 12 thousand Palestinian children since the occupation began in 1967.

He explained that the children detained by Israel were subjected to torture, extortion and unfair judicial proceedings during trial, pointing out that Israel's goal is the destruction of entire generations of young boys through detaining children, 90% of whom have suffered of maltreatment and torture during their detention and interrogation.

Hundreds homeless as Israeli units raze Al Araqib village in Negev (Al Jazeera)

Home Demolitions:

In addition to the arrests, the Israeli army continued to evacuate and demolish more homes and facilities in the northern West Bank town of Al Fariseya, Ghassan Douglas - in charge of settlements’ files in the northern part of the West Bank - said.

In a telephone interview with Al Jazeera, Douglas said that Israeli bulldozers along with Israeli occupation forces demolished at least 15 homes and a facility belonging to the local population, adding that they are still in the region probably to complete the demolition processes.

He added that dozens of homes and other facilities may face threat of evacuations and demolitions in the area of the northern Jordan Valley, especially the area of Ain Beida and Bardala, in order to evacuate the area of the Palestinian population.

Israeli occupation forces demolished 65 buildings, including homes, horse stables, sheep pen and left more than 15 Palestinian families homeless.


August 6, 2010

Israeli forces ransack Palestinian homes at midnight, kidnap three boys

Israeli occupation forces arresting a Palestinian boy

Israeli forces entered the town of Azzun shortly after midnight on Friday morning and took three 14-year-old boys from their homes, head of the municipal council said.

Local official Ahmad E’mran said the town, west of Qalqiliya, was targeted during a night raid, and that a total of five homes were entered and three teenagers taken to an unknown location.

E'mran identified the boys as Nehad Ibrahim, Hamedu Abu Haniyeh and Raed Radwan.

He noted that the homes of Sa’eed Al-Shallu and Mus’ab Al-Drar Radwan were also entered and searched, with families reporting the homes as ransacked.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said three young Palestinians were detained on Thursday evening, saying they were suspected of hurling rocks that damaged Israeli military vehicles on a patrol in the area.

She said the boys were identified and military personnel later entered the town and searched for the teenagers. All three were taken into Israeli custody and were held for questioning. 


Former US Cabinet member humiliated by Israeli officials because of Arab last name

'Special treatment.' Shalala (Courtesy of University of Miami)

Prof. Donna Shalala, Clinton's secretary of health, arrives in Israel in order to fight academic boycott against Israel, claims she was held at Ben-Gurion Airport just because she has Arab last name.

This is not how she imagined her visit to Israel. Prof. Donna Shalala, who served as the US Secretary of Health and Human Services for eight years under Clinton and is currently the president of the University of Miami, was held for two-and-a-half hours at Ben Gurion Airport during which she underwent a humiliating security debriefing because of her Arab last name – all this despite the fact that her hosts notified the airport ahead of time that she is a VIP.
The fact that Shalala arrived in Israel as part of an official delegation of the heads of universities fighting against the academic boycott against the Jewish State also seemed not to help her.

Shalala, 69, was born in the US to Lebanese immigrant parents. She is considered a true friend of Israel and has visited the country many times in the past.
She recently arrived in Israel as a guest of the American Jewish Congress with the objective of increasing collaboration among universities in Israel, the US, and the Palestinian Authority. During their visit, members of the delegation met with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Passengers at Ben Gurion Airport (Ynet archive) 
The official visit ended on July 12, but Shalala stayed on for another two days for a private visit.

The AJC claims that it notified the Israel Airports Authority of Shalala's VIP status as is customary prior to her departure. However, the IAA claims that it has no record on file for Shalala prior to her arrival.

When Shalala arrived at the airport, she was not recognized as a VIP and was even afforded what she claims to be "special" treatment because of her Arab last name. She claims she was held for two-and-a-half hours during which she was asked invasive and humiliating personal questions. Despite the delay, she managed to board the flight to the US. Officials who spoke with her said she was deeply offended by the treatment she received.


What Israeli occupation has wrought

The above video shows 5-year-old Khaled Jabari crying as the Israeli military takes his father away for "stealing water". In fact, he was only trying to access water that had already been stolen by Kiryat Arba, a nearby Israeli settlement. Palestine Monitor reports:

Dr Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, commented the video, circulated yesterday on SKY TV and Al Jazeera, saying that “Palestinian children grow up under the Israeli occupation, surrounded by the Apartheid Wall, by oppression and destruction. Israel repudiates children’s rights and welfare and treats them like adults, clearly violating UN Declaration of Child’s Rights”.

After watching the footage, Hashem Abu Maria, of the Defence For Children International charity, said it was obvious the child thought his father would never return.

He said he was contacting child support agencies in the field to offer him psychological help to cope with the trauma."This child does not comprehend the concept of arrest - he does not know what it means, like the policeman or soldier understands it," he added. "I think that the child thinks that his father is leaving and not coming back - that he has lost him."

Israeli forces raided the town of Bakka after accusing Palestinian farmers of stealing water from the nearby Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba. They pulled out irrigation pipes supplying vines and vegetable fields before arresting several villagers, including the boy’s father. Angry Palestinian residents say they have documents to prove they are registered with the Palestinian Water Authority, and are paying for the water they use.

They say it is the second time in a month police have removed their irrigation pipes. "This land is the source of our income, and it is the cause of our struggle with the occupation since day one of the occupation," said Khaled’s grandfather Badran Jaber. "We live from it, we have no other job opportunity in light of unemployment reaching over 40% in the occupied territories."

The child’s grandmother, Im Ghassan, added: "What right do they have to do this? Where can we go? This is our land, our home and nation, this is ours. We live here, we were born here, and we want to die here. Let them do what they want, we cannot do any more."


Israel Prevents Journalist from Traveling

Israeli soldiers attacking a journalist

NABLUS — Israeli authorities have prevented a Palestinian journalist from traveling abroad to complete his doctoral studies.

Suheil Khalaf, a correspondent for the Jerusalem-based Al-Quds newspaper, said that he attempted to cross over the Allenby Bridge terminal to Jordan but was surprised when Israeli authorities prevented him from leaving without providing any explanation.

Khalaf, who lectures in the department of political science at An-Najah University in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, said his most recent attempt was the second in less than a year to join his PhD program at Cairo University. The journalist called the procedure unjustified and said he obtained approval in advance.

A Palestinian activist from Ramallah, meanwhile, was stopped Wednesday, his colleagues said.

The Bil'in village's Popular Organizing Committee said community organizer Mohammed Khatib was stopped at the crossing and not allowed to cross for "security reasons" and was told to “go back home.”

Khatib's colleagues said he had obtained Israeli court permission to travel in advance, and was en route to the Amman airport for a flight to Spain, where he had several speaking engagements to attend.

Khatib was required to seek permission from Israeli officials to travel because of standing charges of incitement for organizing demonstrations against Israel's separation wall.

Khatib's lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said the ban “was not for security reasons, but rather politically-motivated vengeance.”


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