Sunday, October 30, 2005
Palestinians Burn Israeli Army Patrol Jeep
Armed Palestinians burned an Israeli army patrol jeep on Saturday as it was traveling in the Ras Al Ein quarter of Nablus along with other army vehicles that invaded the city and were searching homes.
Other Israeli patrols raided the Balata Refugee Camp and broke into a number of houses. Eyewitnesses say soldiers opened fire at random towards the houses although no arrests were reported.
The Israeli army also raided the town of Aseera Al Shamaliyeh west of the city. Soldiers fired a number of sound bombs into the town and eyewitnesses say over 30 army cars entered the villages of Jet south of Nablus and Beit Fourik to the east. These two villages have been under an Israeli siege for two days after gunmen shot at Israeli army jeeps passing by the village.
Israeli forces also set up several check posts around Nablus and to the north of the city where cars were held up for two or three hours in either direction.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Surprise, Surprise: Soldiers Attack Peaceful Procession in Bil'in
Israeli soldiers fired gas bombs and rubber coated bullets at a peaceful protest against the Separation Wall in Bil’in village, near the Wets Bank city of Ramallah, several residents were injured.
The protest took off on Friday afternoon after dozens of residents, peace activists and representatives of Physicians without Borders, marched towards a construction site of the Separation Wall while handcuffing themselves in a move which symbolizes the Israeli military procedures.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, told the IMEMC that this protest was carried out to express the rejection of the residents and the peace activists to the continuous attacks and invasions carried by the army against the village, and to protest against the construction of the Separation Wall.
The Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bil’in reported that the main aim of the procession this week was to counter the Israeli attacks against the village, and the continuous arrests and military procedures which aim to bar the residents and the activists from protesting against the Wall.
Abu Rahma also said that soldiers carried lists which included names of dozens of residents from the village. Soldiers claim that those residents are wanted to the Israeli security for their activities in the protests against the Wall.
Dozens of residents and activists suffocated after inhaling gas fired by the army, and received first aid.
The protestors carried banners which reads “we are all wanted, from 1 – 2600”, the number of 2600 symbolizes the number of residents living in Bil’in.
Also, the protestors carried banners in Arabic, Hebrew and English, the banners read; “Date 20-2-2005, penalty; uprooting thee trees, arrest and injuring the residents, night invasions, curfew and siege”, the date written on the banner refers to the date when Israel started bulldozing the residents’ orchards in order to construct the Separation Wall.
One Israeli peace activist was detained by the soldiers on Friday; two Israeli protestors and one Palestinian were injured after the army fired rubber-coated bullet. Dozens of residents and activists suffocated after inhaling gas fire by the army.
Abu Rahma reported that soldiers and under-cover units of the Israeli army are invading the village on daily basis, and breaking into dozens of homes in an attempt to intimidate the residents.
Dozens of residents were arrested in the village since it started conducting its peaceful protests against the Wall. Last Wednesday, Israeli soldiers invade the village after midnight and forced dozens of families out of their homes after breaking into them.
“Today’s protest was also in support of the detainees who were arrested in the village during the military raids”, Abu Rahma said.
Earlier on Friday, Israeli soldiers barred reporters and students of Bier Zeit University from entering the village to participate in the protest.
The residents aided several journalists in crossing into the village after the army closed all of its entrances; the journalists were escorted through the orchards and hills.
Also, protestors carried the names of the eleven residents who were arrested last week in the village, and demanded the army to release them.
Soldiers, and since early morning hours, closed the three entrances of the village and installed military roadblocks. The three entrances link the village with Kharbatah Bani Hareth village, Saffa village, and the village if Kafer Ni’ma.
Friday, October 28, 2005
IOF Invades Bil'in
Saed Bannoura of IMEC reports:
Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday evening, Bil’in village near the West Bank city of Ramallah, and forced the residents and peace activisms out of the homes.
Twenty military jeeps and dozens of soldiers on foot invaded the village, for the third night and conducted house-to-house search, International Solidarity Movement reported.
Dozens of residents, Israeli and international peace activists present in the village, poured out of the homes and chanted against the occupation and the Israeli procedures.
Soldiers withdrew from the village leaving behind a list of “wanted” Palestinian peace activists from the village.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of Popular Committee against the Wall, said that the non-violence resistance against the occupation, wall and settlements will continue “even if the soldiers continue arresting our sons, and use their weapons against us”.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
From 'Militants' to 'Bystanders': Palestinian Children's Deaths Ignored, Again
AP's disgraceful and dehumanising headline which appeared as the third story on the main Yahoo news page at 12.45 AM, Berlin time early Friday morning read, "Israelis Kill Seven Palestinian Militants." Along with this story appeared a photo of six grieving Israelis at a funeral for one of the victims of the Khadera suicide bombing [Note: Accessing the link now will not lead to the earlier headline, although google news still carries stories with the erroneous headline].
By morning, the AP's headline had changed to Israelis Kill Seven Palestinians and some of the news outlets carried the AP story with a photo of Palestinians mourning the deaths. I had written the following to the AP several hours before:
"Please correct the headline 'Israelis Kill Seven Palestinian Militants.'
"Seven Palestinian militants were not killed unless you include the fifteen year old boy and the old man who was killed along with the two members of Islamic Jihad. The headline dehumanises all of the Palestinians who were killed as "militants." Is that the intention? So that Palestinians who are in the way may continue to be killed with impunity during extrajudicial assasinations, which are violations of international law."
It's probably wishful thinking to hope that my early morning message had any effect, but the offending headline had disappeared by midmorning.
No mention however, that extrajudicial assasinations are in violation of international law and that Israel chooses to assasinate resistance leaders that it could easily arrest. On October 23 IOF forces cornered the head of Islamid Jihad in the West Bank in a house and killed him at close range on a stairwell.
Palestine Center For Human Rights Report was received Friday at noon. PCHR reports that of the seven Palestinians killed three were children who had the misfortune of standing on the road that the Subaru that Israelis missiles targeted was on. The children killed in the street were Rami Riad 'Assaf, 17; Karam Mohammed Abu Naji, 14; and Saleh Suleiman Abu Naji, 15.
In addition to the children Mohammed Rumaih al-Wehaidi, 55; and Fayez Hassan Badran, 52 were killed last night along with "Shadi Suhail Muhanna, 26, a member of the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad, who wsa the main target by this attack as IOF claimed; and Nafez Mohammed Abu Hassanain, 31, a member of the al-Quds Brigades."
According to PCHR, "14 Palestinians, including 6 children, have been killed by IOF since the implementation of the "Disengagement Plan" on 12 September 2005."
BBC in its report on Friday's Gaza funeral mentions that four "bystanders" were killed. BBC doesn't bother to mention that three of the "bystanders" were children under eighteen. AP's report on the funeral doesn't bother to mention three of the dead were children, referring to them also as "bystanders." Reuters' reports, "Four bystanders died, including one who succumbed to his wounds on Friday."
According to Palestine Monitor, extrajudicial assasinations in the period from September 28 2000 until May 11 2005, have resulted in the deaths of 198 "bystanders."
The preeminent blogger of the Arab World and beyond, our wonderful Haitham has an interview in a Spanish newspaper.
And The Democrat's Diary has a brilliant post, Wiped Off the Map, on the brouhaha over the Iranian President's Statement, which I found first at the fabulous site for alternative news, informationclearinghouse.
Message From Father Firas Aridah, Parish Priest of Aboud
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
US Entreats Abbas to Kill His Own
Budrus, before and after its olive trees were uprooted to clear a path for Israel's apartheid wall.
Elsa Marston, the children's writer wrote a wonderful short story, "The Olive Grove." Its hero is twelve year old Mujahhid of Bethlehem. His brother and his best friend are killed by Israeli Occupation Forces. Not wanting to lose another son, Mujahhid's parents send him to a little village. Mujahhid is not happy that instead of resisting the Israeli occupation forces by throwing rocks, he is expected to work in the olive grove with his cousin, grandmother, and aunt. Mujahhid comes to find out that there are other methods of Jihad when the Israeli Army forcibly removes the villagers from the olive grove in order to clear a path for an apartheid road. He and the villagers stand their ground; however, they are unsuccesful in their attempts to thwart the land theft.
Zionists have consistently targeted Palestinian symbols of Palestinian identity. Just as the killers and ethnic cleansers of North America decimated buffalo, an intregal part of Native American life, our contemporary ethnic cleansers have uprooted well over one hundred thousand olive trees. "Olive trees are incorporated into almost every aspect of Palestinian life - nurturing their bodies through oil and fruit, their skin through soap and healing and their spirit as the trees have existed in their families for countless years." In addition to uprooting olive trees, Israel is dumping toxic wastes from Tel Aviv in the occupied territories.
It is heartbreaking to look at pictures of Israel's decimation of villages in the occupied territories. Nothing has changed from the brutal onslaught of Zionism which left 700,000 systematically ethnically cleansed human beings in its wake and upwards of six hundred and thirty decimated villages. Sharon has fulfilled The mandate of his colonial predecessors. ThePalestinians are reduced to helplessness and those who remain must be content to be subject to their Jewish masters.
Sharon, like Ben-Gurion before him who said, ''Were I to know that all German Jewish children could be rescued by transferring them to England and only half by transfer to Palestine, I would opt for The latter, because our concern is not only The personal interest of these children, but The historic interest of The Jewish people," is willing to sacrifice Jewish lives in order to secure The Zionist realm, which includes all of The West Bank. Sharon presided over thirteen murders of Palestinians since September 29, including The extrajudicial assasinations of two leaders. According to Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, secretary of the Palestinian Democratic Initiative, "all Palestinian factions gave a chance for the calm, but Israel did not give it a chance and kept provoking the Palestinians. Israeli army killed 120 and arrested 2500 Palestinians since the Palestinians declared calm, 13 of them since the beginning of October."
Knowing full well that there would be retaliation, Sharon proceeded with the assasinations, when it would have been just as easy to make arrests. Now he has free rein to "defend" Israel, with a reprieve from the annoying chiding of Wolfensohn and the US.
And, of course, the Palestinians, to the uninformed, which is about eighty-five percent of the US taxpayers, come off as the bad guys, with today's suicide bombing the icing on the cake for Israel. We've already had the noxious hypocritical statements from Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, who said in Ha'aretz that Wednesday's attack represented "violent language transformed into violent action." No one is the wiser of Israel's culpability.
In lock step is the US with Scott McClellan terming the suicide bombing precipitated by Israel's actions as "a heinous attack on innocent civilians." He added, "the Palestinian Authority needs to do more to end the violence and prevent terrorist attacks from being carried out."
And the US is there to assist. "'We're working with the Palestinian Authority to help them get more of what they need,' said McCormack. 'But make no mistake, they do have capabilities and they do have assets. So let's not pretend that they don't.'"
And there you go. The US, in all its constructive chaos glory, once again entreats Mohammed Abbas to preside over the killing of his own people.
Nonviolent Resistance:'Defending their land with their lives'
An excellent story from Sonia Nettnin on the nonviolent resistance movement in the occupied territories and the obstacles faced. Excerpts:
"Morrar is from the Palestinian village of Budrus located in the West Bank, northwest of Ramallah. In November 2003, Israeli forces declared over 1200 dunams of Budrus land for construction of the wall. In response, Morrar led the Budrus community in a peaceful campaign of 55 protest demonstrations to save the land from confiscation.
"Throughout these protest marches, Israeli forces killed one 17-year-old, injured 300 Palestinians with rubber bullets and rubber-coated, steel bullets, and arrested 33 people. In the end the people served time in prison and the village lost 14 dunums of land. Although Morrar has not committed any violence, he has been shot, wounded and tortured while in an Israeli prison for seven years.
"Morrar and Pollack showed footage of protests that took place at Zbuba, Beit Likia, Budrus, and Biddu. In every protest, the demonstrators did not have any weapons. They stood by olive trees allegedly slated to be uprooted for the wall. Israeli soldiers threw tear gas grenades at the demonstrators. When the people ran from the white smoke, the soldiers stood behind trees and fired at the people with semi-automatic weapons. In some instances, they shoved, kicked, clubbed, and pulled at some of the protestors. When it appeared two soldiers were going to kick a Palestinian man in the head, two Palestinian women rushed their bodies on soldiers. From the demonstrators’ point of view they were defending their agricultural land – their means for survival - with their lives."
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
IOF Bombs Clinic, Social Center, Injures Old Woman, Infant
According to Rafah Today, "The Israeli bombing by F16s targeted the buildings of Al Ehsan Charity Association, which includes a free clinic that aims to offer medical services for the refugees in Rafah.
"A 4-month old infant was injured as well as three women. One of the women was an elderly woman named Aminah."
Israeli Occupation Forces also bombed a Social Center in Beit Hanoon, north of Gaza City.
Farha Barghothy, Memory Eternal
Farha Barghothy died on Saturday. According to IMEMC "she is remembered as a great popular poet, and one of the leaders of the Palestinian women movement.
She led several procession and strikes in support of the detainees confined in Israeli detention facilities and prisons."
The following is an account from Palestine Information Center of the last time she saw her imprisoned sons in April.
The 74-year-old Farha Barghothy, or "Mother of prisoners", as others would like to call her, from Cobar village near Ramallah city, was admitted to the intensive care unit at the city's Zayed hospital on 10/4/2005 suffering various ailments worst of which is pneumonia.
Doctors at the hospital told her family that "everything in the hands of Allah" which means she is about to die and they can do nothing for her. The mother kept reiterating "I want to see them before I meet my creator" of her two jailed sons in Ashkelon Israeli prison, Nael, the youngest, and his elder brother Omar.
Nael and Omar were arrested in 1978 after the Israeli occupation forces accused them of killing an Israeli pilot. Nael was not released since then, while Omar was released in 1985 but was rearrested later and joined his brother in the same jail a year and a half ago. All agreements and deals for the past 27 years failed to bring them back to the compassionate bosom of their mother.
The mother never lost hope that she would see her jailed sons before she died. She appealed with the PA to arrange a visit with the Israelis to enable her to see her two sons for the last time.
She was granted approval by the Israelis, who did not allow her to see Nael for the past six years for the security threat this aged mother might cause to them.
On the thirteenth of April, an ambulance brought the dying mother from the hospital and drove her to the Ashkelon prison where Nael and Omar are held.
Noor Amer, wife of the Palestinian prisoner Jasser Amer, accompanied the dying mother. Along the way, the mother was repeating "I hope I can see them before I pass away," Nur said.
"When we reached at Ofer checkpoint, an Israeli ambulance took us to the Ashkelon prison. The health condition of the aged mother deteriorated along the way and I thought she can't do it but I prayed for her to see her sons," she added.
"Upon our arrival to the prison, the Israeli authorities prevented me from continuing with the sick mother.
"They only allowed me to accompany her when they realized that she can't walk," Noor elaborated.
She said that the prisons' authority informed the two brothers of the visit half an hour before our arrival. "The mother did not believe that only few minutes remained for her to be able to see her children for the last time. The two were brought to the visitors' room, and once they saw their mother, they started weeping and saying 'Oh beloved mother …. oh beloved mother.' They fell on their knees kissing the hands and feet of their mother. It was, indeed, the most tragic and emotional scene I have ever seen."
"'Thanks to Allah… Thanks to Allah that I saw you before I pass away,' the mother said. The two tried to hide their emotions but they couldn't, everyone in the room was crying. Na'el, due to his uncontrolled emotion left the room before the end of the visit. He covered his face with his hands, he couldn't see his mother in that condition, while Omar the eldest remained till the visit ended and accompanied her to the farthest point he was allowed to reach and bade his mother farewell."
Hamas and the American Veto
“This American attitude was not expected, and it may be the only exception, since the current American administration got us used to [their] support for all the Israeli positions without debate.
“Maybe this position is due to the increasing Arab criticisms of the American understanding of democracy. Any objection to the participation of Hamas in the legislative elections scheduled for January means that the Palestinian elections, will be similar to their Iraqi counterparts, i.e., without representation of a large portion of the Palestinian people in the next legislative council. That is why it will be a paralyzed council with no value and having no legitimacy.
“Any Palestinian elections without the effective participation of all the Palestinian forces and Hamas in particular, will have its results close to appointments which are used in dictator states, i.e., a parliament of one color. It is clear that the current American administration learned its lessons from its failed experiment in Iraq, and decided not to fall into the same errors in the occupied Palestine.”
The article continues: “The question currently asked is about the credibility of the sudden American position? Will the administration hang on to it for a long time, and accept a Palestinian parliament which includes a majority of independents and representatives of Hamas, and other extremist Fatah elements, especially those sympathizing or represented by the Aqsa Martyrs?
“It is clear that the US administration found no other choice but to not object to the participation of Hamas in the elections, after it abandoned its promises of establishing a Palestinian state before the end of the second term of President Bush. It is not reasonable to drop the choice of a state and interfere in the Palestinian elections and its results at the same time, because if it did, it would embarrass President Abbas and put him in a very awkward situation.
“It seems that the Israeli government realized the seriousness of the Bush administration in this matter, and that is why it abandoned its rejection to the participation of Hamas in the elections, and gave up its threats of obstructing them.
"The Al Quds Al Arabi article concluded by saying: “These are Israeli and American positions that raise suspicions and anxiety, and it is not far fetched that there is plan to forge the elections or interfere in them in a way that will have its results totally opposite to reality. What justifies these fears is what is going on in Iraq. After a week from voting on the constitution, the results still await announcement, i.e., voting in one day and counting votes in eight days. That is the American democracy.” -
Al Quds Al-Arabi translated http://www.mideastwire.com
The image of resistance in the Palestinian media
The image of resistance in the Palestinian media and the need for improvement
The Palestinian arena recently witnessed accelerated efforts by various parties to crystallize their strategies and visions on all levels of the Palestinian national action to harmonize them with the tremendous political changes in the Palestinian arena, most important of which is the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip.
The fact that the media role in every society is crucial to enhance the political stand and vision of that society makes the Palestinian information action occupy a leading place in the Palestinian national agenda, especially in the next stage, since it always works in the heart of the events and their subsequent developments, and interacts with the Palestinian people's national struggle or the "resistance."
Role of the Palestinian media in the Aqsa intifada
Dr. Fareed Abu Dhaheer, a lecturer at the department of journalism at the Najah University in Nablus city, opined that the Palestinian media during the 5-year-old intifada had played an important role but in a way that didn't match with the intensity of those events.
He explained his opinion, saying, "The Palestinian media was indeed serious in covering all details of the intifada. However, the official tincture most of the time, prevailed on that coverage as the PA officials concentrated on certain angles they considered as priority for them, but which weren't necessarily a priority for the Palestinian issue.
Any observer of the Palestinian official media would reach the same conclusion as Dr. Abu Dhaheer, as the Palestinian official media apparatuses concentrated on the reactions on an event rather than focusing on the event itself. If a resistance attack was carried out by a Palestinian resistance faction, the official Palestinian media would rush to cover and focus on the volley of the condemnation statements issued by the PA on this attack without mentioning anything on statements issued by the faction claiming responsibility for the operation and explaining reasons behind its act, which usually come in response to the Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people and their holy shrines. Thus, deliberately or accidentally such coverage weakens the value of those popular resistance acts and lessens political exploitation of them (marketing them as "national struggle actions" in the international arena).
In the same context, researcher Nehad Khanfar, affirmed that the PA had failed to exploit its available capabilities to present the Palestinian resistance as a struggle for liberation before the world, which negatively affected the resistance and paved the way for some to label it as "terrorism."
One can easily discover the weak defensive position the Palestinian official media resorted to. It always tried to isolate the Palestinian resistance factions and throw the responsibility on them, alleging they were trying to spare the whole Palestinian people from shouldering the responsibility; in addition to that the same media portrayed the Israeli casualties as "victims" equal to the Palestinian martyrs. It had even gone beyond that when it attributed the latest Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip to Israeli political tactics and not as a result of the heroic Palestinian resistance over the past five years. It always tried to present the Palestinian resistance weapons as part of the security mess overwhelming the Palestinian territories and described them as "piles of metals" that don't harm the occupation.
The other side of the picture
In the opposite side, we can notice the huge attention the "Zionist government" pays to the media as a sharp weapon, the influence of which could, sometimes, supersede their war machinery and arsenal's effect.
Rema al-Wazni, a researcher in the PA's information office in Ramallah, talked about the role of the Israeli media in the battle with the Palestinians, saying, "The Israeli media succeeded in portraying the tearful Israeli settlers resisting the evacuation of their settlements, as if it was their own lands, and clashing with Israeli soldiers forcing them out of it. But no one had talked about the Palestinian ordeals over the 38 years of occupation and aggressive settlers' practices against them."
The Israeli occupation was very much aware of the importance of sidelining the supportive media away from the Palestinian struggle. They had derived lessons from their disgraced pullout from south Lebanon when the Hizbullah-owned Manar TV channel played a vital role in recruiting the Lebanese local opinion, and then the international opinion onto their side during the battle. This was obvious when the Israeli top military commanders acknowledged: "The media of Hizbullah had defeated us."
On the other hand, the Palestinian official media concentrated on showing the humanitarian side of the picture as it portrayed the Palestinian people as a poor, weak, and oppressed people soliciting the help from the international community to protect them and financially aid them to rebuild what the occupation had destroyed.
Journalist Khaled Ma'ali, opined that the Zionists had succeeded in mastering the art of "false information" as they exhibited the Gaza Strip settlers as if they were legal owners of the lands and giving painful concessions to the Palestinians; while the Palestinian official media failed to smartly counter the Israeli media and provide the whole world with the truth."The truth is that the Palestinian people are the real owners of those lands, which were usurped by those settlers."
The resistance media
The feeble and lousy Palestinian official media has greatly contributed to crystallizing and developing what later came to be known as "the resistance information," which journalist Suhail Khalaf opined that many of the Palestinian factions had realized the essential role of the media in this long battle and started to provide media coverage to their activities and statements.
He opined that the resistance factions had accomplished a good step in this regard as they evolved from writing on walls and calling through loudspeakers to issuing statements and bulletins, and later progressed into creating their own websites on the internet to explain their stands and display their armed operations against the Israelis, accomplishing, by this, a crucial step.
Abu Dhaheer agreed on that crucial step in the resistance information capabilities, but opined that the resistance factions weren't able yet to establish an alternative to the Palestinian official media to truly reflect the resistance position.
Abu Dhaheer affirmed that the Palestinian factions' disagreement on priorities and visions had greatly limited the influence of the Palestinian resistance as they failed to agree on a united information strategy. He said "I don't believe that the Palestinian resistance factions possess information strategies, although they have their own visions based on their beliefs and principles. In general, we can say that there is a serious problem on the Palestinian information level and on the Arab and Muslim media levels, as well, with regards to the media planning techniques and drawing of strategies."
With the insufficient international, Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian media coverage of the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip and their inability to rise to the events' levels, many media observers affirmed that this experiment must be a good lesson to the Palestinians to draw a united information policy delineated by national priorities.
Abu Dhaheer believes that the Palestinian factions must focus on common goals and unanimously-agreed issues among themselves, and this would urge them to rearrange their internal home otherwise disputes would persist and derail the Palestinian question.
For his part, Khaled Ma'ali opined that the resistance media must focus its attention on four main arenas for the next stage viz:
First- The Palestinian arena: the information discourse must focus here on the readiness to overcome all difficulties regardless of their enormity or the needed sacrifices to overcome them and alley itself from internal disputes as much as possible.
Second- The Arab world arena: The resistances media must try recruit the Arab opinion in its favor and involve the Arab people in the battle in all its forms. It should also encourage them to extend the financial and logistic support needed by the Palestinian people, and to actively reject normalization with the "Zionist enemy."
Third- The Muslim world arena: the resistance media must focus here on the holiness of the Aqsa Mosque and its sacred position in Islam, explaining that it does not belong exclusively to the Palestinian people, but, rather to the whole 1.5 billion Muslims world-wide to attract and involve them in the battle to liberate the Aqsa Mosque instead of just watching the sacrifices of the Palestinian people.
Fourth- The European and American arena- This is a very important arena to invade, especially with the favorable European opinion of 60% believing that Israel was the source of all problems in the world. We must unmask the real face of the Israeli occupation before the European and American citizens by showing their "savage" practices against innocent Palestinian children and civilians, taking into consideration the way the West thinks. We must show that the Palestinian resistance is legal and sanctioned by all international laws and conventions based on the fact that "every occupied people have the right to resist the occupation with the means they have and the international community must help them get rid of that occupation."
© Copyright 2003 by palestine-info.co.uk email: email@example.com
Monday, October 24, 2005
Assasination of El-Assadi: Qurei, 'Like Pouring Oil on the Fire'
Reuters reports, "Army Colonel Aharon Haliva, commander of the force that entered Tulkarm, said troops had surrounded a house where Assadi, long at the top of Israel's wanted list, was hiding and killed him when he fired on them as he tried to escape." Lo' ay Jehad El- Assadi, 26, was a West Bank leader of Islamic Jihad.
Both Reuters and Al-Jazeera reported that Israeli Colonel Aharon Haliva said that Majed Al Ashkar, who was also targeted and killed, fired first and both also reported that Palestinian witnesses said that he never fired.
Palestine Center for Human Rights reported the following: "Initial investigations by PCHR, and eyewitness accounts, indicate that at 22:00 on the evening of Sunday the 23rd of October, a large IOF force carried out an incursion into the city of Tulkarem and the two refugee camps to the east of the city, Nour Shams and Tulkarem refugee camps. IOF imposed a curfew on residents. IOF vehicles took positions in the Marba’at Hannoun area east of Tulkarem refugee camp. At about 22:30, a Palestinian civilian car (a white Subaru) was going from the western area of the refugee camp towards the area where IOF vehicles were positioned. Soldiers forced the car to stop, and forced the driver out of the car. Without warning, the soldiers fired at a person sitting in the backseat of the car. He was killed instantly. It was learned later that the man was Majed Sameer Al-Ashqar (28) from Saida village, north of Tulkarem.
After hearing the gunfire, an armed Palestinian came out of an alley to investigate the incident. IOF soldiers spotted him and fired, hitting him with two bullets to his leg and hand. He fired a few bullets at the soldiers, and took refuge in a nearby house belonging to the Asi family. The soldiers sent police dogs equipped with monitoring equipment after him. After determining his position, a group of soldiers pursued him and another took position on the roof of an adjacent house. The second group fired a rocket at the 3rd storey of the Asi family house. At the time, the man was climbing the stairs, and the soldiers fired at him from close range. He died instantly. Eyewitnesses informed PCHR’s fieldworker that they saw 10 bullets on the stairs leading to the 3rd storey of the Asi family house. PCHR’s fieldworker saw blood covering the stairs. "
The second dead man was Lo’ay Jehad El-Sa’di.
A Reuters video about the execution. Ahmed Qurei says "It's like pouring oil on the fire."
PCHR writes "It is noted that this extra-judicial assassination is the second of its kind since the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, published on 9 October that IOF had announced a reduction in detention operations against 'key wanted activists' in the West Bank, who are expected to resist arrest. In this case, IOF could have arrested both Al-Ashqar and Al-Sa’di, but chose to kill them instead."
In addition "PCHR condemns this crime, and affirms that the policy of incursions, imprisonment, and willful killing perpetrated by IOF on a daily basis in the West Bank increases tension in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). These acts threaten to inflict additional Palestinian casualties. PCHR calls upon the international community to break its silence regarding these crimes. The Centre renews its demand to the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations and guarantee the right to protection for Palestinian civilians in the OPT."
Abbas Returns to Ramallah Empty Handed
“President Abbas returned to Ramallah empty handed. All he got was a warm reception in the White House, a few pats on the back from President Bush, and a bunch of memorabilia pictures which his grandsons can look at in the days to come... It is true that President Bush called for a halt on Israeli settling in the West Bank, and insisted that the mission of the wall being built by the Sharon government should be security and not political, but it is also true that he considered the resistance armed terrorist mobs, and he urged his Palestinian guest to destroy them, and assigned an American representative to assist in that regards.
“Perhaps the most dangerous thing that resulted from Abbas’s visit to Washington is that President Bush snuck from his promises of establishing a Palestinian state close to the end of his second term. This is dangerous because it puts the Road Map which is based on agreement, on the path of the wind.”
Al Quds Al Arabi continued that: “President Bush no longer needs to fulfill his promises in that regard. After he promised to establish the state to justify to the Arab leaders’ participation in his war against Iraq, and now that this war is nearing its end with all the miserable failure that resulted from its occupation and political process, establishing a Palestinian State has become unnecessary. At the time when President Bush was making promises of a Palestinian State, he was giving hand-written provisions to his friend Ariel Sharon about assisting him in his settling operations, and keeping the main settlement blocks in the West Bank, especially around occupied Jerusalem, away from any future negotiations.
“We do not know how President Abbas feels returning to his head quarters in Ramallah empty handed, and we do not know what Dr. Nabil Shaath the Information Minister, will say, after trusting President Bush and his promises to the first visiting Palestinian delegation that the Lord asked him to establish a Palestinian State and so he will, just like he ordered him to engage in war in Iraq and Afghanistan, so he did.”
The newspaper concluded by saying: “President Bush’s abandonment of establishing an independent Palestinian State is an abandonment of the whole political process, and an ending of the Road Map. In light of the Israeli settlement attack and its current rates, there will be no land for this state establishment. It is better for Mr. Abbas to be frank with the Palestinian people who elected him for his close ties with Washington, and give them complete facts, and not give up the resistance card while Bush gave up the Palestinian card in this embarrassing way.” -
Al Quds Al Arabi, United Kingdom (translation: http://www.mideastwire.com)
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Mourning Lost Youth
Raed Sa'eb Sharaka, 21, October 21 (far left)
Abdallah Tamimi, 18, October 22 (left)
Akram Za’loul, 16, October 20 (not pictured)
IOF Invades Bil'in, Breaks Into Houses, Arrests Nine
Israel rounds up more Palestinians
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Call to Action for Walid Hanatche
Please find below an international campaign appeal from Birzeit University's Right to Education Campaign to release one of our student prisoners, Walid Hanatche. Walid has been in administrative detention for three-and-a-half years, since May 2002. The next few days are critical for Walid as his latest detention order comes before a military judicial review. Walid's wife, also a student of Birzeit University, has lately been diagnosed with brain cancer and it is time for us to do what we can to bring an end to this gross violation of Walid's fundamental human rights and allow him to return to his family, his life and his studies.
Please find attached [below] a sample letter which you can sign and fax directly to the Israeli military authorities (or email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass it on) to demand Walid's immediate release.Please forward this appeal on to your contacts.
Thank you for your help.
Right to Education Campaign Coordinator
Public Relations OfficeBirzeit University
Telefax:+972 2 298 2059
Walid Hanatche, M.A. student in Economics at Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank, has been arbitrarily imprisoned without charge or trial for the last three-and-a-half years. The next few days are critical for Walid as his case comes before a military judicial review. We need your help to put an end to this gross violation of Walid's fundamental human rights and allow him to return to his family, his life and his studies, by writing to the Israeli military authorities to demand his immediate release
Walid was with his wife and three-year-old daughter when he was arrested outside the gates to Hadassa Hospital in Jerusalem on his way from a hospital appointment, on 19 May 2002. He was apprehended for not having the military permit required by the Israeli authorities for Palestinians from the West Bank to enter Jerusalem. Walid has been in prison ever since. No charges have ever been made against Walid and he has not been to trial. He is one of 18 Birzeit University students currently held in administrative detention, without charge or trial, on the basis of 'secret information' not revealed to the prisoner or their lawyer.
For three-and-a-half years, the Israeli Military Commander of the West Bank has repeatedly and arbitrarily renewed Walid's administrative detention order every few months. However, when the Military Commander attempted to renew Walid's detention order for the thirteenth consecutive time in June 2005, the Israeli military court finally refused, twice ruling that Walid should be released due to the lack of sufficient information against him. In August 2005, the Military Commander appealed to the Israeli High Court of Justice in an effort to overturn the two military court decisions for Walid's release. The High Court agreed to renew Walid's detention one more time but shortened the period from five months to three months, clearly stating that Walid's detention should end on 22 September 2005.
In the latest legal and moral outrage to hit a student of Birzeit University, one week before Walid was due to be released last month, the Military Commander threatened to extend Walid’s detention yet again unless he 'voluntarily' agreed to be deported for a minimum of two years. Walid refused to be deported and so he remains in prison. In gross violation of international human rights law, which explicitly states that "no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention", and in direct contradiction of the Israeli High Court of Justice and two military court rulings, the Israeli Military Commander of the West Bank renewed Walid's detention once again. This order is now subject to military judicial review.
Walid Hanatche wants this nightmare to end and to go home to join his wife, who has lately been diagnosed with brain cancer, and their young daughter. Within the next few days the military court will make its decision. We urgently call on all our friends and supporters to write to the Israeli Army's Legal Advisor and Chief Military Attorney to demand Walid Hanatche's immediate and unconditional release.
Colonel Yaer Lutstein
Bet El Civil Administration
West BankFax number: +972 2 997 7326
Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit
Chief Military Attorney6
David Elazar StreetTel Aviv
Fax: +972 3 569 4370
18 October 2005
Dear Colonel Lutstein / General Brigadier Mandelblit
I am writing to call for the immediate release of Birzeit University student, Walid Hanatche, who has been arbitrarily imprisoned on the basis of an administrative detention order for the last three-and-a-half years.
Walid Hanatche was arrested on 19 May 2002. Since that time, the military court has twice decided to release Walid due to the lack of information against him. In August 2005, the Israeli High Court also ruled that Walid's period of detention should be shortened to end on 22 September 2005.
But one week before Walid was due to be released last month, the Military Commander of the West Bank sent a written letter informing Walid that he intended to extend his detention order unless he 'voluntarily' agreed to be deported for a minimum of two years. Such an ultimatum can only be described as a legal and moral outrage and Walid rightly refused to be deported.
On 22 September 2005, in gross violation of international law and in direct contradiction of the Israeli High Court decision and two military court rulings to release Walid, the Israeli Military Commander of the West Bank renewed Walid's detention order for the fourteenth consecutive time.
I draw your attention to the fact that Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Israel is a State Party, explicitly states, "no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention". In addition, the right to a fair trial is guaranteed under international humanitarian law. Clearly, Walid's treatment does not conform to either of these obligations.
Furthermore, over the course of this period Walid's wife has been diagnosed with brain cancer. For this reason and for the cause of justice alone, I ask you to intervene immediately to ensure that the latest renewal of Walid's administrative detention order - currently under judicial review - is rejected and that Walid is immediately and unconditionally released.
CC. Birzeit University Right to Education Campaign
Fax: +972 2 298 2059
Grapevine Project in Aboud Village Uprooted By Israeli Colonists
Aboud, a picturesque half-Christian half-Muslim village northwest of Ramallah, used to be renowned for its high-quality grape production. On Friday, October 7, a new viniculture project to bring back this venerated livelihood was completed with the help of generous donors. Unfortunately, on that day it was viciously attacked by Israeli settlers, resulting in the destruction of 600 vines and the loss of the entire season for the uprooted section.
The Project was sponsored by the Birzeit University Center for Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. More than six months in the making, including preparing the land, building an irrigation system, and planting the vines, the re-vegetation project planted three cultivated varieties (cultivars) of grapes and utilized modern intensive agricultural methods. Whereas traditional cultivation would have planted 80-100 vines per dunam, the new method planted 300-330 per dunam. About 6,000 vines were spread over 25 dunams. The land belongs to five extended families, and 25 individuals were set to benefit from the project.
The area being rehabilitated was previously the site of 4,000 ancient olive trees, centuries old, known by locals as Roman trees. Israeli army bulldozers destroyed them four or five years ago. Residents of Aboud had requested that the Center for Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences solicit funding to rehabilitate the land and bring back the viniculture that the village was once famous for. The project was partially funded by the Welfare Organization, an NGO that mobilizes money for humanitarian projects.
On the morning of October 7, the owners of the land and the new vines found a scene of devastation where many of their thriving vines had stood. 600 vines, all two months old, had been uprooted and either destroyed or stolen. These vines represented 10% of the total project and 25% of the vines of one particular owner. The financial loss amounts to around $7,000, including the cost of the vines, of planting and irrigating and taking care of them, and the loss of an entire season’s grapes. Even if new vines are planted, they will not be ready before the spring of next year.
Two months before, the owner of this plot had been threatened by a settler from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish, who had started visiting the area and harassing Aboud residents. The settler threatened to uproot his vines once they were planted. The owner lodged a complaint with the Israeli District Coordinating Office (DCO) about the threats.
The owner immediately lodged another complaint with the DCO and also at the Beit El settlement when he found his plot destroyed on October 7. The DCO informed the Israeli army, and high-ranking officers were sent to the area to investigate and take pictures.
Days later the owner was summoned to a settlement for questioning, and the soldiers asked if he had any Palestinian enemies. He said he had none, and anyway this was definitely the work of settlers, because a permanent Israeli army post near his plot of land had a tower and could see everything. It would not have allowed Palestinians to move freely in this area at night. He listed the settler who threatened him two months before, and is known to have engaged in other terrorist activities, as the prime suspect.
It is doubtful whether donors will be able to secure more funding to repair the damage caused by the settler. Taking the settler to court would be extremely difficult, time-consuming, and expensive, especially with no solid evidence of his involvement in the crime because Palestinians are not allowed on the lands at night and could not have been there to protect their land or document any attacks. The Israeli Army and government almost never compensate Palestinians for crimes committed by settlers, who often act under their protection.
Hence another terrible attack by Israeli settlers is likely to go unpunished, and the victims uncompensated.
Palestinian Election Fever
Further, "While most observers feel that Hamas and other Islamic candidates are not likely to win more than 30-35 per cent of the vote, Israel demanded that they not be allowed to participate in the elections. This and the fact that Israel has recently began rounding up political leaders of Hamas (including the moderate Hassan Yousef who publicly accepted the two-state solution along the 1967 borders) is bound to increase the Islamic groups' popularity." Read more
'Even the Sick Are Punished'
“The occupation shows no mercy – even the sick are punished.” These are the words of a weary husband, watching his wife battle illness and the Israeli occupation, which has denied her a permit to enter Jerusalem and seek treatment in one of its hospitals.
His fate in God his only weapon, Bassam Hazza’ or Abu Iyad from Qalqilya tells his story. “My wife is ill with cancer and needs immediate treatment in Al Maqassed Hospital because her health situation is quickly deteriorating. She cannot even move without someone’s help. After trying everything they could, her doctors decided to transfer her to Al Maqassed to continue her treatment there and try to stop the deterioration and close up a hole that has shown up in one of her leg bones.”
Abu Iyad continues, “I put in an application for a permit for my wife and for myself so I could be there with her during treatment. However, the Israeli intelligence services rejected us for “security reasons” because my three sons are in jail in the Hasharon Prison.”
Abu Iyad is incredulous. “What kind of law governs the occupation? My wife cannot walk, she is quickly slipping away. How does preventing my wife from entering Jerusalem to seek treatment help security?”
The Hazza’ family has enough grief to cope with. Three of their sons were arrested by the Israeli army. “My son Iyad, 22, was arrested in a special army operation in 2002 and was sentenced to eight years in prison. A little while later, the attorney general rejected the sentencing and now there is a retrial to try and re-sentence him to life imprisonment. As for Hazza’, 21, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. My third son, Mohammed is serving four years.”
Denying them permits is nothing new to Hazza’ and his wife. “My wife and I have been banned from visiting our sons for over a year, again for ‘security reasons.’ This has taken a painful toll on us – not only are the occupation’s measures against the prisoners, but their families as well.”
Joe Carr Reports from Bil'in
Joe sustained injuries from a rock and underwent an operation to repair his spleen.
Nevertheless, Joe writes "I completely affirm Palestinians right to resist Israeli colonial occupation. Palestinians have the right to do much more than throw rocks at soldiers committing colonial genocide, and they must if they are to survive. Boys with rocks are hardly a match for the Israeli Military heavily stocked with the US’s most deadly weapons, so it is my responsibility to help protect these boys as they symbolically resist. "
For Joe's full report:
A Palestinian man prays behind barricades on the road after being prevented by Israeli soldiers from passing the checkpoint on his way to pray at Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque, in the village of Al Khader, near the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Friday, Oct. 21, 2005. Muslims are celebrating the holy fasting month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
News From Bil'in: Israelis Use Robots, Bean Bags Against Non-Violent Protests
Friday, October 21, 2005
Sumud: Bil'in and Ibrahimi Mosque October 21
Corporate Media Ignores Non-Violent Resistance
"Over the last three years the NYT has published only three feature articles on Palestinian nonviolent resistance.." he writes in "Non violent resistance in Palestine."
"Americans are largely unaware of the struggling but vibrant grassroots nonviolent movement in Palestine, because the US corporate media prefers a simple, flawed story of Palestinian terrorist attacks and Israeli retaliation."
My own informal searches of yahoo and google news for coverage of the weekly Bil'in Apartheid Wall protests bear out his research regarding the "corporate media" preferences. It is early Friday evening in western Europe and nothing is showing up from the google and yahoo news searches, nor on BBC for today's protest in Bil'in.
O'Conner does a good job of deconstructing the Times' Jerusalem Bureau Chief's story which appeared in last week's Times, one of three stories about Palestinian peaceful protest to appear over the last three years in its pages.
"Only six words in the 1,138 word article are quotes from Palestinians, though the article centers on a Palestinian-led protest against Israel's construction of a Wall cutting through the West Bank village of Bil'in. Erlanger seems to instead let Israeli protesters speak for the Palestinians. Nonetheless, he still quotes twice as many words from Israeli soldiers in Bil'in as from the Israeli protesters. "
No context is provided, which is typical of the corporate media's coverage. For example, it is rarely reported that it is against international law to settle occupied land or to transfer one's poupulation to occupied territory. Just as this significant information is omitted in almost every story about the occupation (Kathleen Christison has reported that she's found that most Americans think that Palestinians occupy Israel), Erlanger's story about Bil'in omits omits "80 protests in Bil'in, three years of nonviolent resistance to the Wall in the West Bank, the rich Palestinian history of nonviolent resistance and the Israeli military's brutal repression of nonviolent dissent."
O'Conner writes "If allowed to speak, Palestinians would have cited evidence showing that Israel clearly is violently repressing peaceful dissent in Bil'in and many other villages. Tens of protesters from Bil'in have been arrested, including protest organizer Abdullah Abu Rahme. Abu Rahme was arrested three times for a total of 35 days, and has now been banned by an Israeli court from attending protests."
Further, "361 protesters have been injured over seven months in Bil'in. One young Palestinian man almost died after being shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet. Three Palestinians and an Israeli were seriously wounded when hit by teargas canisters fired from guns at close range. However, the only specific injury that is noted in the article is one to the Israeli soldier who lost his eye, the single most serious injury to a soldier during three years of protests against the Wall."
O'Conner urges the public to ratchet up the pressure on the corporate media. Journalists, many of them ignorant themselves of the history of the conflict must be compelled to more accurately represent the Palestinians in their struggle to retain their lands from Israel's colonisation. We must demand that the corporate media stop abetting the colonisers in their dehumanisation of an entire group.
Mohammed Remembers His Brother
World without hearts, the majority of them have lost their feelings, lost the meaning of humanity … no values nor principles … my brother ... killed in cold blood, amidst international silence. He was in the house when the Israeli bulldozers and tanks attacked the area and invaded the houses of our neighbors. The street was completely different and the only choices were two: either to get demolished with the house and be killed under the rubble, or to get out of the house and get killed from the shelling and shooting that doesn’t differentiate between child, old women or old man. All are targeted...
My brother Hussam, 17 years old, was a secondary school student. He was one of those people who chose not to get killed by demolishing with his body in the rubble of the house, so he went out of the house trying to find shelter or a safe area where he could go to. He went out of the house and immediately got killed by 7 evil bullets (from the bullets of those countries who support Israeli army against children ... all Americans bullets as the doctors said in the hospital). In that moment when they killed him with 7 American bullets, Wedad Al Ajrami, a 33 years old women, tried to help my brother and get him to the hospital, but they killed her also. And now both of them have fallen. Read more
Ghada Karmi: Fleeing Palestine, My Right to Return
Excerpts from "Fleeing Palestine, My Right to Return"
To the sound of gunfire, Ghada Karmi was forced to flee her home in Palestine 57 years ago. Now back in Ramallah, she has chronicled every detail of her harrowing flight. By Donald Macintyre
It is one of those perfect autumn late afternoons in Jerusalem; the sunlight filtered through the heavy cypress branches, the street just as still as Ghada Karmi can remember it from her early childhood.
"You see, there's the lemon tree that was there when that was my parents' bedroom," she says, pointing across the verandah from just outside the old iron gate through which she and her family had made their hurried and final departure to the sound of automatic gunfire and mortar explosions that fateful April morning 57 years ago.
As she poses for pictures by sitting on the stone steps in the way she must have done so often as a little girl, the years suddenly roll away and for a fleeting moment you can see again the pensive, pretty eight-year-old from the only two family photographs that were not left behind for good in the Karmis' precipitate - and as they tried to tell themselves, temporary - flight from Palestine.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
CPT Report from At-Tuwani
BACKGROUND On Wednesday, October 19 both Israeli settlers and Israeli military sources said that settlers from Ma'on settlement were planning an attack on the village of At-Tuwani. Even with this knowledge, Israeli military sources said specifically that the Israeli military would not protect At-Tuwani village. Christian Peacemaker Teams issued an Urgent Action appeal (text below) asking you to call Israeli military officers and Israeli embassies to demand that the Israeli military fulfill its obligation to protect all people under its jurisdiction in the occupied West Bank, and to question theIsraeli military statements that they would not protect At-Tuwani against settler violence.
UPDATE Between 9:30 and 10pm Wednesday night several Israeli military vehicles arrived in At-Tuwani. One parked between Ma'on settlement and the closest houses of At-Tuwani. Another Israeli military vehicle parked at the main entrance to Ma'on settlement. At 10pm, Israeli police arrived in At-Tuwani. During the night and Thursday during the day there has been a continuing Israeli military presence along Route 317, in the village of At-Tuwani, and around the settlement of Ma'on. There was no attack by settlers as of 4pm local time Thursday.Because the Israeli military has stopped escorting the primary school students from the village of Tuba, the children made a circuitous trip to school on donkeys Thursday. THANK YOU! We are grateful for all the calls you made. We believe that the critical message that your calls conveyed is that the world is watching and people are aware of events in the South Hebron Hills, and this attention helped convince the Israeli authorities to respond to the threat of violence. We are aware that many of your calls were answered by Israeli military officers unhappy to be called during the night. We trust they realize that theywould not have been getting these calls if the Israeli military had not said it would leave Palestinian villages exposed to settler violence. Rich MeyerHebron/Tuwani Team SupportChristian Peacemaker Teams
19 October 2005 AT-TUWANI URGENT ACTION: Demand Israeli Military Control Settler Violence
On Sunday, 16 October three Israeli settler youths were killed and one was injured in a drive-by shooting on the by-pass road from Hebron to Jerusalem. All four youths were residents of Ma'on and two other settlements in the south Hebron hills, close to the village of At-Tuwani. These settlements are home to some of the most radical, violent settlers in the West Bank. The gunmen have not been caught, although two different Palestinian organizations have claimed responsibility. No At-Tuwani resident was involved.
The Jewish holiday of Succoth began Monday evening at sundown and in the following days CPTers observed more settlers in the area. On Wednesday morning, settler security from Ma'on approached CPTers Diana Zimmerman and Jenny Elliot while they were waiting on a hillside next to Ma'on for thechildren from Tuba. Settler security informed CPTers that settlers were gathering in Ma'on, that settlers were angry and looking for a fight, and that if CPT didn't leave the hill immediately "there would be violence". The Israeli military escort for the school children of Tuba was cancelled. Zimmerman and Elliot returned to the village of At-Tuwani and gave this information to the villagers.
At sundown Wednesday (about 5:15PM) CPTers spotted at least eight settler vehicles driving through At-Tuwani and up the hill toward the outpost ofHavot Ma'on (Hill 833). None of the vehicles stopped in At-Tuwani. At 7:00PM CPT received a phone call from the Israeli peace group Ta'ayush to pass on information from the Israeli military (this information was also confirmed by the Israeli organization Machsom Watch) that: 1. school security escorts by the Israeli army and police for the children from Tuba are suspended indefinitely due to "security reasons"; 2. the settlers are making plans to come down to At-Tuwani and start trouble this evening; and 3. there is no way the Israeli army can control the settlers if they attackthe village.
CPTers and the villagers of At-Tuwani ask you to call the following individuals in the Israeli military to demand that the Israeli military fulfill its obligation to protect all people under its jurisdiction in the occupied West Bank. Ask them why the Israeli military made statements that they would do nothing to intervene in the case of violence againstPalestinians.
Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, please visit our website at: http://www.cpt.org. Photos of our projects may be viewed at: http://www.cpt.org/gallery
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Open Letter on the Debate Over Dr. Derek Summerfield's British Medical Journal Article
In a recent issue of The British Medical Journal, Dr. Derek Summerfield wrote an article detailing Israeli atrocities against Palestinians. He has been attacked for this. I wrote a letter to BMJ supporting his original article. Below is an opinion piece I wrote after reading an article in which Summerfield justifies his contentions and scores Dr. Yoram Blachar, President of Israel's Medical Association (IMA) and current Chairman of Council of the World Medical Association (WMA), the official body whose mandate is, in Summerfield's words, "to remit medical ethics (including the relevant parts of the Geneva Convention) worldwide.
Dr. Derek Summerfield is a good and courageous man who meticulously documents his assertions about Israeli brutalities against the Palestinians. What is truly discouraging is that in 2005, after decades of the Israeli policies he deplores, we are still going round and round rediscovering and documenting the same brutalities and having to prove our contentions against the "Our Israel Right or Wrong" crowd. There should come a time, one feels, when one could simply declare these deniers of evidence and historical fact abettors of crimes against humanity.
Of course Dr. Summerfield is right. Thirty-eight years of documentation, including that of Israeli "revisionist" historians, prove he's right (Of course you can never cite Palestinian historians: in today's world of US and Israeli Group-Think masquerading as "democracy" they're guilty of being terrorist sympathizers by mere fact of their ethnicity.). The revisionists include Benny Morris who thinks ethnic cleansing justified to establish a pure Jewish state but who does not deny the ethnic cleansing took place; Avi Schlaim, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, Baruch Kimmerling, Ilan Pappe, who do not condone ethnic cleansing but similarly document it - among the documents are extensive citations from Israeli army and government archives.
It shouldn't be Dr. Summerfield who needs to bolster his arguments and justify them; it's his detractors who should be tried. Theirs are the same old arguments that have been rehearsed and re-rehearsed for the past five-plus decades. The same Zionist hysteria leaps forth, never more than today when it has exploded into a McCarthyite crusade replete with efforts to try people for "falsification of history"; to fire faculty for criticizing Israel and voicing the Palestinian narrative, to ban books. There is the same shrill reaction to any criticism of Israel as"anti-Semitism" and "The Arabs Want to Throw the Jews into the Sea."
In fact it's Gaza's Palestinians who have been thrown out of their living as fishermen, into a desert created by the Israeli destruction of the old citrus and fruit groves, into the massive concentration camp that constitutes all of Gaza now, walled from one end and one side to the other, monitored as a prison camp by guard towers manned by soldiers armed with the most sophisticated weaponry known to the world; a Gaza bombed and shelled until vast swathes of towns and cities are left looking like Beirut and South Lebanon after Israel's bombardment. Not an apartment building is left intact, not a home without shell-holes pock-marking the walls; a generation of children who wet their beds, who are used as targets by taunting Israeli snipers (see Chris Hedges in Harper's for a good description of this loathsome practice); who cannot learn because of post-traumatic stress syndrome and malnutrition; a generation of youth without a shred of hope for a future beyond these prison walls. Israel under the expert, malevolent guidance of that past-master in provocation and destruction, Ariel Sharon, has reduced most of Gaza to a non-nation existing on the level of sub-Saharan Africa. Read Sara Roy on the subject in the current issue of Journal of Palestine Studies.
On the other hand it's useless to ask the screamers of "anti-Semitism!" and"You want the Arabs to throw the Jews into the sea!" to read Sara Roy. Their minds are as sealed to historical fact and evidence are those who believe the Bible is the World of God and that we are at the End of Days. Christian hysteria dismisses any critics as "Satanic"; Zionist hysteria dismisses all critics as "anti-Semitic." The threat approaches: the cross gets raised (or, in this case, I suppose, the Israeli flag.). If I raise Ilan Pappe's name he will automatically be dismissed as a self-hating Jew and an abettor of terrorism. Benny Beit-Hallahmi the same. Benny Morris has redeemed himself, of course, having prostrated himself before the altar of Israeli True Belief and said genocide is right and fitting for the creation of a purely Jewish state.
It is said that critics like me or Dr. Summerfield need to be measured; we need to be polite; we need to document our arguments. We need to keep a nervous, respectful eye on "the Jewish community." But the Palestinians are on the point of being annihilated as a social and political entity. After the nth talk has been delivered, the nth letter or essay written in measured tones; the nth petition sent to bullies and war criminals like George Bush and Ariel Sharon, the nth explanation issued with patient documentation, footnote after footnote after footnote, the nth citation of "impeccable JEWISH sources"- - how could they find any fault with Israeli JEWISH sources?-- have met with the same cries of anti-Semitism and the rest, the constant writer-- to echo Dorothy Parker writing in a much lighter moment--throws up [ read Rapid Responses to Dr Summerfield and his replies here].
The late Dr. Israel Shahak used to score people like those who attack Dr.Summerfield as state idolators. The truth is thrown to the flames and the big lie is championed in the name of "supporting Israel." As such, these supposed Israel-supporters betray the very ideals of Judaism which forbids worshiping idols. They lead the state they say they support toward its inevitable doom. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The licensing of an army to commit any crime against a subject population spells moral, spiritual, and social degradation of the whole society.
Reply to Dr. Yoram Blachar: Moral Corruption at the IMA and WMA
by Dr. Derek Summerfield
Dr. Yoram Blachar's response to my letter in this week's BMJ is morally and strageically of a piece with his responses over many years in the pages of the Lancet and BMJ, including his response to my BMJ review of 16 October 2004 (1)(2).
He declines to regret the killing by Israeli soldiers of a single Palestinian child, much less 600 in five years. He has consistently declined to regret the use of torture as an instrument of state policy inIsrael (indeed, under its Israeli euphemism of "moderate physical pressure," he has defended it), nor regretted the shooting of Palestinian doctors and other health professionals on duty during the 2002 invasions, nor the otherviolations of the Fourth Geneva Convention which continue to plague Palestinian society on an entirely systematised basis. As well as guaranteeing health professionals and facilities the right to immunity from military action, the Convention safeguards the right of a civilian population to unimpeded access to medical care and other essentials for life like food aid. We should note that Dr Blachar is not speaking as an individual doctor, but as the long time president of the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) and - surely extraordinary - the current Chairman of Council of the World Medical Association (WMA), the official body whose remit is to patrol medical ethics (including the relevant parts of the Geneva Convention) worldwide.
Behind this stance is a dehumanised contempt for the Palestinian population, whose suffering weighs nothing on the scales by which Israel measures its interests. We are to understand from Blachar that they are not a people in the same moral universe.
Many of the hostile responses at bmj.com remind me that there are no natural limits to the human capacity to deny, even what is in front of one's nose. Holocaust denial is perhaps an extreme example of this. The mass of documentation from reputable international and local sources I have drawn from is dismissed out of hand, if it is attended to at all (for example Amnesty International has issued no fewer than 301 reports since October 2000, whose thrust is wholly consistent with the findings of Israeli organisations like B'Tslem and Physicians for Human Rights, and with Palestinian health and human rights organisations like the Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute). This week Professor Alan Meyers and others from the US-based Jewish American Medical Project confirmed again at bmj.com that what I document is in accord with their own fact-finding missions.
Dr. Blachar calls what I document "uncorroborated" when of course he must be perfectly aware of all this material from so many sources in the public domain. This is denial as conscious choice and political strategy (similar to the way that Western nations collude with Turkey's denial of the Armenian holocaust of 1915, because Turkey is a loyal NATO member). Dr Blachar and the IMA have made their choices with their eyes open over many years, inline with a tacit version of Israeli citizenship that has it that unpleasant things need to be done to Palestinians in the name of national security. A representative of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) Israel (whose exemplary practice shames the IMA neglect of their duty to provide ethical leadership) wrote in the pages of the Lancet 2 years ago that the IMA was "merely an executive arm of the Israeli establishment - one that works very hard to present the face of the 'enlightened occupier' rather than striving for universal medical ethics" (3) .
Blachar's response at bmj.com to my 2004 paper concluded that "the lies and hatred he spews in his piece is reminiscent of some of the worst forms of anti-semitism ever espoused." The point that needs to be noted here is that this slur is strategic, seeking to substitute for any engagement with the material itself, which is dismissed by association. So too Blachar's response, published after mine, in the BMJ of 24 September 2005. He saysthat the contents are "nothing new." At one level this is sadly true, since the patterns of abuse I and others have documented have been a consistent feature of Israeli policy for many years. But what is new, and news, is the"Breaking the Silence" testimony. When before has so much explicit and verbatim testimony come from so many Israeli ex-soldiers, more than 300 to date, and because, in their words, they have felt "corrupted" by what they saw and were asked to do on active service in the Occupied Territories. They write that it is "a patriotic duty" for them to inform the Israeli people of the grim reality of what is being done in their name, and to expose the cynical mantras of the IDF that so many correspondents at bmj.com have taken at face value. Here is the president of a national medical association, and chairman of council of the world watchdog on medical ethics, utterly repudiating these young men and their principled accounts.
Similarly, when Blachar writes that "the Israeli Medical Association looks into any claim brought to our attention" this again is strategic rhetoric. Independent humar rights evidence is ignored, as we have seen for years, and the testimony of Palestinian victims does not count by definition.
Blachar concedes that some abuses do take place- at this point it would scarcely be possible to claim otherwise- but calls them "occasional." As he well knows, this is utterly at odds with the public record and now with the"Breaking the Silence" testimony. Does the killing of 3500 civilians in 5 years suggest "occasional" abuse? The testimony makes it clear that these abuses were not occasional but systemic, with the-shoot-to kill orders coming from superior officers to ordinary soldiers, and as standing orders in certain parts of the Occupied Territories during certain time periods. Consider a recent episode that depressingly bears out what the ex-soldiers of "Breaking the Silence" are saying. On the night of 24 August 2005 the IDF shot dead 3 teenage boys and 2 adults in a West Bank refugee camp. An IDF communique claimed the 5 were terrorists, killed after opening fire on the soldiers. However, an investigation by the Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem and the newspaper Haaretz found that none of them had been armed, nor had any connection with any terrorist organisation. They were ordinary citizens. The reality as opposed to the rhetoric of IDF policy is to lie and obfuscate where necessary. Blachar is not out of touch with IDF realities (indeed WMA Secretary General Delon told me 3 years ago that Blachar had brought 'highly sensitive' documents (ie. from military sources) to the WMA to make a point) and is I infer seeking to deceive the BMJ readership.
In his first paragraph Blachar, as he has done repeatedly, uses the issue of suicide bombers as a barndoor defence for the mass shooting of civilians, whose names he thus blackens by association. If this is not grotesque than I too have lost my moral compass. I would add that disproportionate and indiscriminate fire upon civilians long predates the onset of suicide bombers, being similarly evident during the first intifada (1988-93), when more than 25% of all civilian dead were children. Suicide bombers only began later. Blachar also adds a justifying anecdote about a Palestinian woman who he says took advantage of a humanitarian medical clearance granted by Israel to attempt a suicide bombing at a hospital. I would want this confirmed by an unimpeachable source like B'Tselem. If true I would of course deplore it, but it is gross to attempt to use this as a justificationfor the indiscriminate killing of civilians.
I would add some personal experience that refutes Blachar's claim that the IMA looks into any claim brought to their attention. At a human rights conference in Gaza in 1997, an Israeli physician told me that an Israeli medical colleague had confessed to her that he had removed the intravenous drip from the arm of a seriously ill Palestinian detainee, and told the man that if he wanted to live he should co-operate with his interrogators. I sent this information to the then IMA Head of Ethics, Professor E. Dolev, and asked for an investigation. I received no reply, even after reminders.
It was Professor Dolev, whilst still Head of Ethics no less, who in 1999 stated flatly to a visiting delegation from the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, London, that "a couple of broken fingers" duringthe interrogation of Palestinians was worthwhile for the information it might garner. When this was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine by those present, Blachar defended Dolev (4).
Contrast these interpretations of medical ethics with that of, say, the director of the Al-Basra hospital in Iraq, executed in the mid 1990s for refusing to carry out punitive amputations. Unlike the plight of ethically minded doctors in many countries, the IMA has not had to fear loss of life or liberty for speaking out. It has chosen not to, and should be judged by these decisions.
Last year I challenged Dr Blachar at bmj.com to state whether he had any concerns whatever about violations of the Fourth Geneva convention by the IDF. I did so again in this week's letter, but again he simply will not engage with the data, does not attempt fact-based rebuttals of specific charges. Let me ask him once more, in relation to his leadership positions both at the IMA and WMA: Dr Blachar please, in your professional judgement have there been and do there continue to be any reason for medical ethical concerns arising out of the conduct of the Israeli army towards thePalestinian general population? Do you accept any of the human rights documentation to this effect, not least from Amnesty International? As I summarised in my BMJ 2004 review, the public record attests to the death of seriously ill Palestinians, and of new born infants, at army checkpoints because they were denied access to hospital. Palestinian health professionals have been shot dead or wounded on duty. Ambulances drivers are interrogated, searched, threatened, humiliated and assaulted. Wounded men have been taken from ambulances at checkpoints and sent directly to prison. There have been cases where ambulance drivers have been forced to act as a human shield against stone throwers, and on other occasions Israeli soldiers have commandeered ambulances as transport. On hundreds of occasions ambulances of the Palestinian Red Crescent society have been hit by IDF gunfire. On the 1st April 2004 the IDF fired missiles at Bethlehem psychiatric hospital, which had 250 patients and 75 staff present at the time. There was extensive damage and staff were arrested. Clearly identified medical clinics, including those run by the aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres, have been hit by gunfire. The International Committee of the Red Cross and other aid agencies have at times been forced to limit their work in the West Bank because of threats to staff and attacks on vehicles by theIDF. There has been willful hampering of the distribution of food aid. TheIDF has also wilfully destroyed water supplies, electric power and other elements of the public health infrastructure. The continued building of the apartheid wall and fence has hugely damaged the coherence of the Palestinian health system.
The Israeli doctors of PHR have documented what they called "the appalling deterioration in the attitude of Israeli military forces towards Palestinian health and rescue services. Yet despite severe injury to medical personne l and to the ability of physicians to act in safety to advance their patients' interests, despite Israeli shells that are falling on Palestinians' hospitals, despite the killing of medical personnel on duty - the IMA has chosen to remain silent." Would Dr Blachar please comment on all this?
Lastly, I must reiterate the international dimension. Over the years the IMA has made much of their association with the WMA, presenting their membership per se as guarantee of their probity. For the past 3 years I have been regularly bringing this material to the attention of theI nternational Committee of the British Medical Association (BMA), which as an influential member of the WMA is surely in a position to challenge the ethical stance of the IMA- as they did the Medical Association of South Africa during the apartheid era. In response to an open letter of appeal tothe BMA published in the BMJ in September 2003, Dr V Nathanson of the BMA talked about "facilitating change through education," as if the IMA hadn't known what it was doing over many years. Dr Nathanson also wrote that theBMA International Committee sought to "engage constructively with ourIsraeli colleagues"(5). These colleagues are, I take it, from the IMA rather than from, say, PHR, and in particular, its president Blachar who is right there at the WMA. What has this constructive engagement amounted to, and how can any personal assurances offered by Blachar to be set against the mass of documentation in the public realm pointing the other way? There is an unfortunate echo to Blachar's contemptuous dismissal of human rights evidence in Dr Nathanson's comment in the BMJ that whilst there was a case for "thorough investigations of all allegations of malpractice or culpable inaction concerning doctors by an appropriately resourced and independent expert body, the problem is to identify by whom" (5). This is extraordinary: has not Amnesty long since been such a body, or B'Tselem, or PHR Israel and their Palestinian equivalents! What is Dr Nathanson really saying?
A term like "constructive engagement" can be little more than a rhetorical device: when nothing changes it may amount to little more than a form of collusion and (I measure my words) conspiracy. There may be a tacit but distinct BMA position that Israel is a 'special' case, and a sense of collegiate solidarity with the IMA. My successive letters to the International Committee, drawing responses from Dr V Nathanson and from Dr E Borman, have been a case study in evasion and distancing. The consistent line is to fend me off. The World Medical Association too is surely in breach of its own mandate in continuing to shut its eyes in this way.
All this must be a source of quiet satisfaction to the IMA and indeed in Israel, which is sensitive to Western public and professional opinion. The BMA have chosen to offer nothing to endangered health professionals and general public in the Occupied Territories, save possibly increased risk as a group for whom demonstrably no authority abroad- not even the medical ethicists- would speak in solidarity. This is a disgrace.
What comes through very strongly in the responses to this material at bmj.com is that people cannot imagine that Israeli government and IDF representatives, or significant other leaders, could lie to them. When theIDF repeatedly states that it goes to great lengths to avoid excessive civilian casualties, and that the overwhelming majority of those killed are"terrorists and suicide bombers," people want to believe this. Similarly, when an authority like the President of the Israeli Medical Association speaks out, people want to have their doubts set to rest and feel reassured. Dr Blachar is perfectly aware of this, that he has the power to influence many in the Jewish Diaspora who seldom visit Israel (and when they do so do not venture near Palestinian areas), and who might have begun to worry because of some of the things they have seen in the media. Surely Dr Blachar, not just an Israeli medical leader but also an office bearer in the international body concerned with medical ethics, must be speaking the truth, so the reasoning goes. Thus those who publish otherwise, from Amnesty International downwards, can only be motivated by crude anti-Israeli motives and anti-semitism. So good people continue to defend Israeli actions and a sense of impunity within Israel continues, with war crimes that mean terrible costs for a hapless, imprisoned Palestinian populace. I don't believe it is possible for a doctor to reveal a state of moral corruption much more nakedly than this, and in an international medical journal to boot. Thus Blachar is indeed sticking fast to the task which, as I noted above, PHR Israel described: justifying state policies whatever the cost to thePalestinian population. PHR Israel noted in the Lancet that on its return from the 2002 WMA convention, the IMA presented its performance as a propaganda coup, though its position paper had failed even to condemn theIDF shooting at ambulances. As I wrote at the outset, a conscious strategy is at work, a world away from the principles of medical humanitarianism and ethical practice.
Lastly, bmj.com has so far heard little from those who registered their outrage in such numbers last year. I do hope they are reading the "Breakingthe Silence" testimony (6). Perhaps those representatives who threatened theBMJ will write in with further reflection. For instance, the news channel of Totallyjewish quoted Dr Daniel Ellis, a representative of the London Jewish Medical Society to the Board of Deputies, as saying that a group of prominent doctors were working to petition the BMJ, and Prof Eric Moonman, chair of the Academic Response to Racism and Anti-Semitism was said to have written to the head of the BMA urging action to be taken against the editor(7).
Apologies are due from these parties to the BMJ.
1. Blachar Y. Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes.Response from the IMA. BMJ 2005; 330:254-5.
2. Blachar Y. Israeli army's shoot-to-kill policy. Reply from thepresident of IMA. BMJ 2005; 331:699.
3. Ziv H. The role of the Israel and World Medical Associations. Lancet2003;361:1827-8
4. Bamber H, Gordon E, Heilbronn R, Forrest D. Attitudes to torture.JRSM 2002; 95:271.
5. Nathanson V. Medical Ethics, the Israeli Medical Association, andthe state of the World Medical Association. Reply from the BMA. BMJ2003;327:561-2.