September 30, 2010

Israeli occupation forces injure and detain Hebron child

Ma'an - HEBRON – Israeli soldiers attacked and detained a 13-year-old Palestinian boy on Monday in the Ar-Ras neighborhood of Hebron, witnesses said.

Locals said soldiers hit Sayel Rebhi Abu Quweder, leaving him bleeding from his forehead and with bruises on his face. The boy was then handcuffed and taken to an unknown location, residents added.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the boy was detained for throwing rocks at a military vehicle.

South African university cuts some ties with Israeli school

Ma'an - BETHLEHEM – The University of Johannesburg decided to conditionally sever ties with Israel's Ben Gurion University on Wednesday, the Palestine Solidarity Alliance announced.

Calls for the break in ties prompted the launch of a fact-finding investigation by the University, which told the university's senate that it had confirmed BGU’s links with the Israeli military and complicity in the Israeli occupation.

A petition filed by academic groups was backed earlier in September by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as some 250 South African academics, organizers said.

The conditional severance includes research or teaching relationships with BGU "that has direct or indirect military links; or in instances where human rights abuses are identified." When violations of the universities charter are identified, the decision said, they will be terminated after six months.

The decision went further and "recognized the necessity for the University to engage with Palestinian universities," a statement from the petitioners said.

UJ Vice Chancellor Adam Habib told Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz that what was decided on in the senate was a compromise, maintaining some ties with the Israeli university, but also pledging to work in parallel to establish ties with Palestinian universities.

"We believe in reconciliation," Habib said. "We'd like to bring BGU and Palestinian universities together to produce a collective engagement that benefits everyone."

Petitioners also called the decision a victory, saying "The overwhelming support of respected South African voices has highlighted the structural complicity of Israeli universities in the occupation," and adding that the decision "emphasizes the necessity for South African universities to reconsider their affiliations to Israeli institutions."

September 29, 2010

(VIDEO) Dissecting Obama's UN speech

Barack Obama, the US president, has urged countries in the United Nations to get behind Middle East peace efforts in an address at the UN General Assembly.

But Ali Hasan Abunimah, a Palestinian-American journalist and co-founder of Electronic Intifada, an independent web site about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, said Obama's speech did not represent anything new.

"That bodes very ill for the peace process that he's so invested in," Abunimah told Al Jazeera's Shihab Rattansi, speaking from the US state of Indiana.

"Let's judge him not by what he says, but what he does."

Israeli Tanks Shell Gaza Overnight

Ma'an - GAZA CITY – Israeli artillery shelling was reported overnight Tuesday in two Gaza districts near the border area, medics told Ma'an.

Gaza medical services spokesman Adham Abu Silmiyya said tanks stationed along the northern border close to the Karni crossing opened fire toward homes, reporting no injuries.

Abu Silmiyya also said tanks opened fire at homes east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the Joher Ad-Dik neighborhood, again reporting no injuries.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the Israeli army was not familiar with either incident.

Israeli police detain 24 in East Jerusalem

Ma’an - JERUSALEM – Israeli police detained 24 Palestinians from an East Jerusalem neighborhood on Tuesday, an official said.

Wad Hilwa Information Center director Jawad Siyam said several women and children in the Silwan neighborhood were briefly detained when Israeli military and police forces shut down the entrance to the Wad Hilwa area.

Palestinians were prevented from entering or exiting to enable settlers to move freely in the neighborhood, Siyam told Ma'an. Entrances were closed off when clashes erupted between settlers and residents, he said.

Locals said a settler assaulted a man on his way to work sparking a brief street scuffle between Palestinian residents and Israeli settlers who allegedly provoked passersby and assaulted them.

Siyam said Israeli police arrived shortly after the fight and closed off entrances to the neighborhood. He said tension was palpable and expected clashes as soldiers maintained a heavy presence on the streets.

Tensions have been rising in the flashpoint Jerusalem neighborhood since an Israeli settler guard killed a Palestinian man days earlier, sparking violent protests.

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

September 28, 2010

Israeli Occupation Forces detain Associated Press photojournalist at rally

Ma'an - HEBRON – Israeli forces assaulted and detained Associated Press photojournalist Nasser Shiyouki on Saturday as he covered the weekly anti-wall protest in Beit Ummar near Hebron, witnesses said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said Shiyouki physically confronted forces and refused to adhere to soldiers' requests to step back. She said the photographer was briefly detained, and that a report was filed with Israeli police, who would investigate the incident.

Clashes erupted between protestors and Israeli soldiers after dozens of Palestinian, Israeli and international activists rallied near Karmi Zur, an illegal Israeli settlement built on land confiscated from Beit Ummar and neighboring town Halhul. Demonstrators raised Palestinian flags and chanted anti-wall and anti-occupation slogans.

Locals said several protesters suffered from tear gas inhalation at the rally, while others were physically attacked by soldiers and sustained bruises.

The army spokeswoman said soldiers used riot dispersal mechanisms after demonstrators threw rocks at forces.

The weekly rally is organized by the national committee against the wall and the Palestine Solidarity Project.

Worker shot at northern border

Ma’an - GAZA CITY – A Palestinian worker collecting stone aggregates near Gaza's northern border was injured Tuesday when Israeli forces stationed near the Erez crossing opened fire.

The worker said he was collecting rubble from an evacuated settlement before the incident.

Palestinian medical services official Adham Abu Silmiyya identified the victim as 21-year-old Fadi Tamboura from the northern Gaza Strip. The official said Tamboura was being treated for a gunshot wound to the right thigh at the Kamal Udwan Hospital in Jabalia

An Israeli military spokesman soldiers had identified a man approaching the border area, fired warning shots toward him, and when he did not retreat, soldiers aimed at the lower body of the man and "identified a direct hit."

September 12, 2010

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Dozens Wounded As Army Attacked Nonviolent Protest In Bil’in

Photo by Ranni Burnat

IMEMC - Israeli soldiers attacked on Friday afternoon the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall in Bil’in village, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah inflicting dozens of injuries.

The protest was held by dozens of residents, Israeli and international peace activists; they chanted slogans against the Wall, settlements, ongoing arrests of Palestinians and the constant attacks against the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem and their homes.

The protestors also demanded the release of all political detainees especially the detained local activists of nonviolent resistance against settlements and the Annexation Wall. They also demanded lifting the illegal Israeli siege on Gaza. 

As the protestors marched towards the gate of the Annexation Wall, Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets, concussion grenades and gas bombs; one resident identified as Mohammad Ahmad Hamad, 19, was hit by a gas bomb in his back and dozens were treated my field medics after inhaling gas fired by the army.

Photo by Ranni Burnat

Meanwhile, the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Bil’in welcomed a report by Human Rights Watch in which it condemned Israel for arresting and prosecuting Abdullah Abu Rahma, a leading figure in nonviolent resistance against the Wall and settlements.

Human Rights Watch dubbed the prosecution of Abu Rahma as illegal and added that Israel is preventing the Palestinians from practicing their right to express their opinion and hold nonviolent protests.

September 11, 2010

Jerusalem archbishop greets Muslims on holiday

Ma’an - JERUSALEM – Jerusalem Archbishop Atallah Hanna extended greetings on Friday to all Muslims on Eid Al-Fitr.

He expressed his hope that the Palestinian people would unite and regain their rights after liberating their land.

The archbishop also condemned a small US church's now-canceled plan to burn Qurans, which he called illegal and inhuman.

The Council of Churches in the Middle East also condemned the plans, calling them in a statement on Thursday a "detestable crime against the teachings of Jesus Christ, and all of the values of the Church."

Burning the Muslim holy book, they say, contravenes international conventions of human rights.

Christians "unite with our brothers in all the Holy Land churches and with all our Muslim brothers to stand against the implications of the plan that extremist thinkers and graduates of hatred and intolerance schools will try to enact," the statement said.

September 5, 2010

Israel orders Jordan Valley farmers to leave land

Ma'an - SALFIT – Israel's Civil Administration ordered farmers to leave land they were cultivating on Wednesday in the Wadi Abu Ammar area in the northern West Bank district of Saflit.

Saber Mar'ey, one of the farmers from the Qarawat Bani Hassan village, said Israeli authorities warned them not to continue working on the lands, which all fall under Area C. He said the land, estimated at 400 dunums, was originally abandoned and recovered by farmers for cultivation.

Ma'rey said he received an initial stop-work order from the Civil Administration on 12 July 2010 and later on 5 August 2010 before they were all ordered to vacate the area.

A spokesman for Israel's Civil Administration said that the farmers "intruded on government land without a permit and therefore were ordered to evacuate the area."

The farmland is under full Israeli control over security, planning and construction. Many Palestinian buildings and agriculture-related constructions have been torn by Israel's Civil Administration for failing to receive approval for the initial building.

Several villages in the Jordan Valley have seen structures razed by the Civil Administration since July. A UN report said 86 structures were demolished in the area in mid-July, and 17 others were demolished in other areas of the West Bank the week after.

"The spate of demolitions raises concerns over whether Israeli authorities could further escalate demolitions throughout Area C," the report said, noting more than 3,000 demolition orders handed down by Israeli officials to locals were still outstanding.

In mid-August, residents of the Al-Farisiya village in the Salfit district saw several structures razed for the third time in just over a month, after farmers continued rebuilding the area after it was demolished.

Israeli Settlers Attack Families And The Military Abducts Two In Hebron

IMEMC - HEBRON – Israeli troops abducted two Palestinian brothers and settlers attack another house in the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday morning.

Troops broke into the home of the al-Tamimi family, searched it, and abducted Bilal and Mu'ath from their house that is adjacent to the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba.

Also, dozens of Israeli settlers threw stones and empty bottles at the house of Younis Idrees also close to Kiryat Arba. Idrees told media that at least fifty settlers took part in this assault, adding that the Israeli police arrived after the assailant settlers set the garden on fire.

Idrees also said that the police prevented the settlers from putting the entire house on fire as they were trying to throw cooking gas jars inside the house, which could have killed all those inside the house. The settlers left behind serious damage to the interior and exterior of the property.

The settlers' attacks come shortly after unknown gunmen opened fire at Israeli settlers near Hebron on Tuesday evening, killing four.

The Palestinian residents of the area are concerned about the series of retaliation attacks by the settlers.

6 families ordered to vacate homes for demolition

Ma’an - NABLUS – Israeli forces on Monday told six Palestinian families in the Nablus district their homes would be demolished and ordered them to vacate within 48 hours, an official said.

The families were from Um Ar-Rashash, near Duma village, Palestinian Authority settlement affairs officer Ghassan Doughlas said.

He added that the PA had authorized $100,000 to build a school in the area, whose 300 residents support themselves by farming.

A call to Israel's Civil Administration after business hours Monday was not immediately returned.

September 4, 2010

Israeli occupation forces take over Hebron home

Ma’an - HEBRON – Israeli soldiers raided a house in Hebron and converted it into a military base on Friday afternoon, residents said.

Salem Salayma said soldiers instructed his family of 14 to move into the first floor of his house in Al-Baq'a, east of Hebron.

An Israeli military spokesman was not immediately familiar with the report, but said he would look into it.

Clashes reported in Silwan

Ma’an - JERUSALEM – Clashes reportedly broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian residents of the flashpoint neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem on Monday morning, following a wave of detentions.

Ma'an's correspondent said Israeli police, intelligence officers and border guards stormed Wad Hilwa, Al-Bustan and other areas to arrest Palestinians suspected of taking part in clashes on Thursday.

Residents said settlers provoked the violence by attempting to enter the Al-Ein Mosque.

The reporter identified the detainees as Su'ad Abu Rumouz and her brother Jawad from Al-Bustan, Muezzin of the Al-Ein Mosque Adam Simrin, 68, and Fadi Siyam, 28, and his brother Nur, 20. A third Siyam brother, 16-year-old Hamza, was summoned Tuesday morning and will be escorted by his father.

A spokesman for Israel's National Police did not return a call seeking comment.

September 2, 2010

Israel's Shas spiritual leader: Palestinians should 'perish', in 2001 called for Arabs' 'annihilation'

Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef (Photo by: Daniel Bar-On)

Ha'aretz - Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef denounced upcoming peace talks with the Palestinians, which are set to start September 2 in Washington, and called for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to "perish from this world," Army Radio reported overnight Saturday.

"Abu Mazen and all these evil people should perish from this world," Rabbi Ovadia was quoted as saying during his weekly sermon at a synagogue near his Jerusalem home. "God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians."

The Shas spiritual leader also called the Palestinians "evil, bitter enemies of Israel" during his speech, which is not the rabbi's first sermon to spark controversy.

In 2001, the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox faction gave a speech in which he also called for Arabs' annihilation.

"It is forbidden to be merciful to them," he was quoted as saying. "You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable."

The Palestinian Authority had condemned the speech as racist and inciteful.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, also from Shas, earlier this week also remarked on the forthcoming peace talks with the Palestinians, saying that Shas would oppose extending the West Bank settlement building freeze due to expire in late September.

Yishai has suggested that Israel would continue construction in the main settlement blocs likely to remain part of Israel in the framework of a peace deal, but freeze construction in outposts or more remote settlements. 

Non-violent protest attacked by Israeli forces

A protest against Israeli settlements in the Hebron area was met with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets on Saturday afternoon, when Israeli forces attacked the non-violent demonstration.

Beit Ummar protester. (photo by activestills)

The protest was organized by the Popular Committee Against the Wall to protest the expansion of the settlement of Karmi Zur, built on land belonging to the people of Beit Ummar village, near Hebron.

The protest began on Saturday afternoon in the village, where residents gathered to march to the site of settlement construction. Before they reached the construction site, Israeli forces began firing tear gas projectiles and rubber-coated steel bullets into the crowd. No injuries were reported.

The protests in Beit Ummar and nearby village have been a regular occurrence since Wall construction began on village land three years ago. Since that time, the Wall route has extended even further onto village land, confiscating olive groves that are the sole source of income for many families in the village.

At several recent protests in Beit Ummar, Israeli forces have abducted journalists who were covering the demonstrations, which organizers say is a blatant attempt by Israeli authorities to suppress peaceful protest and the coverage of these protests by news agencies.

September 1, 2010

Singer gets flogged over 'forbidden' gig

Rabbi Yitzhak's religious court (photo from Shofar organization's website)

Ynet - Rabbi convenes special religious court to carry out punishment against newly religious man who sang in front of integrated audience of men, women

The sinner lifted his shirt and recited the confession. A court clerk pressed him against the tree pole and began flogging him with a special whip. The three judges declared, "May your evil be lifted and your sin atoned." Only a mobile phone ringtone reminded all present that the year is in fact 2010.

Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak, who heads the Shofar organization for the distribution of Judaism, has been  waging a war against religious singers who perform to an integrated audience of both men and women, and in the spirit of the Ten Days of Repentance has taken the campaign one step further.

On Wednesday, Yitzhak and other rabbis conducted a rare ceremony in which they flogged Erez Yechiel, a newly religious singer who was seeking atonement for various religious offences he made in the past.

Rabbis Yitzhak and Benzion Mutzafi together with a third person formed a court which would carry out the punishment. The event was documented on video and has been uploaded to the Shofar organization's website.  

Rabbi Yitzhak. Waging war against liberal singers (Photo: Neve Rosenberg) 

The clip shows Rabbi Mutzafi explaining the need for the special form of atonement, saying that many sinners, including artists who lead men and women to dance in public, have no place in the afterlife and must be banished by the court.

He further explained that the mekubalim used to subject themselves to flagellation during the Ten Days of Repentance for the purpose of atonement. He presented a whip made of ox and donkey skin and instructed to flog Yechiel 39 times while alluding to various Kabbalah issues. "He is receiving a new soul," Rabbi Mutzafi said.

Yechiel was filmed saying, "I hereby subject myself to 39 floggings for my sins from the day I was born and until this very day. May these floggings serve as atonement and lift from me sins, evils and crimes and I shall be clean and pure in this world and the next."

Rabbi Mutzafi then read out to Yechiel the confession which is recited during Yom Kippur and during the death of a person. He burst in tears and said "When judgment is made down here, there is no judgment up there."

Whites-Only School Approved by Israeli Education Ministry

IMEMC - Several months ago, a religious school in the illegal Israeli settlement of Immanuel was criticized for segregating white Jewish students from non-white Jewish students in classes.

Ethiopian Jewish student - not allowed to study at new school (photo by Jewish Middlesex)

Originally, the school was fined for this policy of racial segregation, because the school was state funded. Now, the Israeli education ministry has agreed with the white parents' request to allow the school to continue with its racial discrimination under private funding.

There is no law preventing racial discrimination by private organizations, even schools, in Israel.

The Israeli court has interpreted these laws to also apply to illegal West bank settlements, like Immanuel, which are located in areas that are supposed to be under Palestinian control. The Palestinian Authority does not allow racial discrimination, but due to the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian Territories, it has no authority over the area in question.

74 white girls who have been studying in a building next to the school will now be allowed to study in whites-only classrooms that are privately funded, as their parents claim they do not want their girls to study in racially-mixed classrooms.


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