16 November 2010

Today in Palestine - 16 november 2010

Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Sheikh Jarrah: Fighting For Survival, Palestine Monitor
Hundreds of people gather every Friday afternoon in the village of Sheikh Jarrah to protest the Israeli evacuation of Palestinian families from their homes. Jewish, Palestinian, and international demonstrators join together in solidarity each week to peacefully protest the seizure and demolition of an entire Palestiniancommunity. Written and photographed by Brynn Ruba.

New settlement freeze will be harder to enforce, Israel Police says
Series of obstacles include the willingness of settlers to counter the freeze order more aggressively than in the past because of their disappointment over the imposition of another moratorium.

’No Rights’ for Palestinian Labourers in Settlement Industrial Zones, Palestine Monitor
High unemployment and restrictions on travel into Israel have forced 25,000 labourers into working on Israeli-owned industrial zones in the West Bank. Beyond the reach of PA control, these workers are exploited by their Israeli employers.

Residents say settlers behind torched grove
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Fires ravaged agricultural lands in the southern West Bank near Hebron on Monday afternoon, destroying 15 dunums of fruit grove and greenhouses.  Beit Ummar farmers, whose lands were affected, said they believed setters from the nearby Bat Ayin colony were behind the arson, which destroyed dozens of fig, olive and pine trees.

Watch: Footage contradicts arson allegations
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- International solidarity activists hit back this week at allegations broadcast in Israeli media that they and Palestinian farmers set fire to "state land" in the occupied West Bank.Ynet news and Arutz Sheva, two Israeli media outlets, reported Sunday that "leftists" and "foreign anarchists" were caught in an arson attempt near an illegal settlement between Bethlehem and Hebron.

Israeli-Palestinian clashes over olive groves feed distrust
With Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in limbo, a feud is escalating between Jewish settlers and Palestinian villagers over olive trees – and the land in which they're rooted.

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Leftists chant 'stop Apartheid' outside Tel Aviv opera
Activists denounce Israel as South Africa's Cape Town Opera performs Porgy and Bess. Counter rally: We are all Israel. We are all Ariel.

Deported by Israel, but not discouraged
I was deported by the Israeli government for publicly expressing support for and participating in the growing global movement for Palestinian human rights and freedom. Israel's increased deportation of witnesses and activists such as myself comes as the solidarity movement including the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions gains momentum around the world.

Right-wing Israel advocacy group StandWithUs attacks Jewish Voice for Peace meeting with pepper spray, Adam Horowitz
Last night, up to a dozen members of San Francisco Voice for Israel/StandWithUs, a right-wing Israeli advocacy group with a documented track record of aggressively taunting and intimidating grassroots peace activists, attended a Bay Area Jewish Voice for Peace community meeting at a South Berkeley Senior Center with the intention of disrupting, intimidating and possibly assaulting Jewish Voice for Peace members. Jewish Voice for Peace is the largest U.S. Jewish peace group dedicated to a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on democracy and full equality --- the Bay Area chapter is the founding chapter of the organization. Approximately 50 to 60 people were at the meeting, and you can read eyewitness testimonies here and here.

Physical Attack on Jewish Voice for Peace Indicates Israeli Intimidation of Jewish Dissidents Comes Home, Alex Kane
Under the reign of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right coalition, dissident Israelis have been under attack (not to mention the continuing assault on the human rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank.)

Former Israeli soldier seeks to shine a light on Hebron
Yehuda Shaul of the group Breaking the Silence opposes the military's treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank city.  Prepare to be pelted with eggs, the tour guide warns. Or maybe it will be rocks, bricks or spit wads.

In tribute to the ‘Young, Jewish, and Proud’, Mohammad Talat
Last Monday a group of Jewish youth calling themselves Young, Jewish, and Proud (YJP) debuted by coordinating a widely covered disruption of Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the Jewish Federation National Assembly (JFNA) in New Orleans. In the extensive coverage and exchanges that followed, much was said. Nevertheless, I am left with the feeling that some meaningful insights were largely left out.

little brown-shirts, Max Ajl
Mohammad Mahmud, a member of UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), sent me the following report:  This was the first time I attended a JVP meeting. I was probably the only person in the room who didn’t identify as Jewish. It was not the first time I thought about attending, but this time I matched action to intention and went, primarily to show appreciation for our colleague's act of courage that touched me. The meeting was held in a space JVP rents regularly at the Berkeley Senior Center on Ashby, starting 6:30. I arrived at 6:40 and walked in. There was a large circle of some 50 to 60 seated attendees. There was a stage to the right. The four guest speakers were sitting on the edge of the stage. There was obvious tension as I sat next to a lady friend. She mentioned that there was a group hostile to JVP in the room and that they were trying to start the meeting peacefully. I looked around the room and saw many familiar faces. Two women on opposite sides of the room had come to our (SJP’s) teach-in on the Gaza Flotilla back in September and tried to disrupt it. One of them goes by the name of Faith. I noticed at least five more hostile faces which were familiar from recent SF City Hall and UIC Berkeley Senate sessions, where they had gathered under the organization name “Stand With Us (SWU).” They were dispersed in twos and threes throughout the room. It couldn’t be a coincidence, and later I would count at least 11 SWU people who worked in concert. Apparently, before I arrived, some of these hostile participants had tried to film the meeting, and JVP leaders brought in the night shift supervisor of the building who told everyone that they would have to leave the room if they disobeyed the organizers’ rules that prohibit filming.

Danny Ayalon to Norway: Why can’t you keep your artists under control?, Didi Remez
The Israeli government reaction to the homegrown cultural boycott of the West Bank settlement of Ariel was forceful and blunt: Threaten funding, establish a “Zionist Art Prize” and de-legitimize whoever takes part as fifth-columnists. This should not have been a surprise, coming from a government that has overseen an unprecedented assault on domestic freedom of expression and association. The campaign has been so successful locally that the Foreign Ministry is now trying it on the international stage.

Luxurious magazine fights Israel
Comprehensive study reveals London Review of Books presents 'starkly one-sided and fringe approach' against Jewish state. Israeli, Jewish contributors among harshest critics.

Silwan youth clean up the Bab el-Rahma cemetery
The Silwan Youth Movement, in collaboration with a committee that cares for Islamic cemeteries, led a massive campaign on Sunday to clean up the Bab el-Rahma cemetery in Jerusalem. Ahmed al-Ghoul, one of the founders of the Silwan Youth Movement, said that this project came as part of the organization’s activities for Eid al-Adha. He added that the Movement would organize visits to the families of prisoners and martyrs during Eid, as well as organizing recreational activities to bring joy and entertainment to the children who have suffered under Israel’s repressive policies. The founders of the Silwan Youth Movement, which was recently established, explained that the group does not pursue any political activities, but instead focuses on social work which aims to improve cultural awareness and social relations among the Palestinian population of Silwan. The Bab el-Rahma cemetery is a Muslim cemetery that is more than 1,400 years old, and located along the eastern wall of the Haram al-Sharif. The cemetery includes a number of graves of Islamic figures from the era of Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab as well as from the Ayyubid era.

In First Interview Since Critical Injury at West Bank Protest, U.S. Peace Activist Tristan Anderson Urges Iran to Free Jailed Hikers
The U.S. peace activist Tristan Anderson has given his first interview since being critically injured when Israeli soldiers fired a high-velocity tear gas canister directly at his head in 2009. Anderson was taking part in a weekly nonviolent protest against Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank. On Sunday, he helped unfurl a banner calling for the release of his friends Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two U.S. hikers who remain imprisoned in Iran. Anderson and the freed American hiker Sarah Shourd also sat down for a joint interview.

Abuse of Palestinian Children

Report: Mass arrests of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem
In October, DCI-Palestine collected information relating to the arrest of 17 children from the Silwan neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, although lawyers and fieldworkers for DCI-Palestine estimate that the overall number of children arrested in the Silwan neighbourhood in October is considerably higher.

Silwan youth placed on house arrest in neighboring towns
The Israeli Magistrate’s Court sentenced three Silwan youth – Islam Aouda, 17,  Ayed Abbasi, 21, and Ala’a Zaytoon, 20 – to house arrest yesterday, to be served outside of Silwan. Islam Aouda will spend his house arrest in Beit Hanina, Ayed Abbasi in Ras el Amoud, and Ala’a Zaytoon in Beit Safafa. Ala’a Zaytoon was arrested nearly a week ago from his relatives’ home in the neighborhood of Bir Ayyub. Islam and Ayed were arrested separately more than twenty days ago. The three young men are charged with throwing stones at and damaging police vehicles.

Siege/Humanitarian Issues/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

Gaza-Egypt border sealed for 6 days
RAFAH (Ma'an) -- Border officials said the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt would close Monday for six days over the Eid Al-Adha holiday.  An Egyptian official said the closure also applied to Egypt's port Awja in central Sinai, and that the Rafah crossing would follow the port's weekend closures, shutting down every Friday and Saturday.

Eid al-Adha: sheep smugglers kept busy for Muslim festival
Muslims in the Gaza Strip and West Bank were preparing for the Eid al-Adha holiday, which will be celebrated in the coming days across the Muslim world.

Lebanon's refugee camps no better than those in Gaza
The conditions of Palestinians living in and outside of Lebanon’s 12 refugee camps are equal to, or even worse, than those in Gaza, a top United Nations Refugee and Work Agency (UNRWA) official said Thursday.

Poverty kills Muslim feast happiness in Gaza
GAZA, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- Um Ibrahim Salah, a 42-year-old woman, can not buy all she needs for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, or Feast of sacrifice, since her husband have been jobless for years.  "Prices double every year and most of the people are unemployed, " Salah said, who lives in the Jabaliya refugee camp of Gaza, one of the most densely populated spots in the world.  The mother spent most of the money buying sweets, nuts and shirts for her four sons. "I have no more money now to afford meat or more clothes for my kids," she added.

Jenin center director: "I want to create hope"
In 2005, three years after the Israeli army perpetrated a massacre and razed dozens of homes in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, a group of Palestinian youth established the Jenin Creative Cultural Center. The center provides cultural and educational services for children and youth ranging in age from six to 25. The Electronic Intifada contributor Adri Nieuwhof interviews the center director Yousef Awad on the situation of children in Jenin.

Violence and Detainees

Israeli artillery, navy randomly shell east and west of foggy Gaza
PIC 15 Nov 2010 - Palestinian security sources said that Israel's artillery east of the Gaza Strip and its navy in the west started at dawn Monday to randomly open heavy fire towards both directions.

IOF troops kidnap three Palestinians and raid two mosques
IOF troops on Monday kidnapped three Palestinian residents of al-Khalil city in the southern West Bank, raided two mosques and set up roadblocks at the centre of the city.

Israel pardons 45 wanted Palestinians
Amnesty granted to Fatah men as gesture for Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha; part of deal signed between Israel, PA following Hamas takeover of Gaza.

Israel's Arab Helpers

Abbas’s militia kidnap seven Palestinians
On the eve of Eid al-Adha militias affiliated with the de facto President Mahmoud Abbas continue to kidnap supporters of Hamas in West Bank. They kidnapped seven in the Tulkarem district on Monday.

Egypt denies not cracking down on Gaza smuggling (AFP)
AFP - A top security official said on Monday Egypt has cracked down on tunnels to Gaza and intercepted explosives destined for the enclave, a day after an Israeli official criticised its anti-smuggling efforts.

War Criminals

Belgian citizens set to sue Israel
Four Belgian citizens who were on board the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza when it was attacked by Israeli forces on May 31, 2010 are planning to sue the Israeli government.  The four, Fatima el-Mourabiti, Inge Neefs, Kenza Isnasni and Griet Deknopper, were victims of, and witnesses to, the attack and have applied to the Belgian courts to hear their complaint.

Political "Developments"

Hamas confirms continuation of unity talks
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas leader Ismail Al-Ashqar confirmed Monday, earlier reports by Fatah officials that the reconciliation meetings would continue at the end of the Eid holiday in Damascus.  Al-Ashqar led a Hamas delegation from the Gaza Strip to the last unity talk meetings in the Syrian capital, which was initially hoped to be the final meeting between parties, resolving the issue of the re-structuring of the Palestinian security forces and paving the way for reconciliation to begin.

Palestinian factions reject US proposal
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian political factions rejected on Monday a partial, one-off 90-day settlement freeze as a basis to return to talks with Israel.  The US has offered Israel military and political incentives, including 20 fighter jets and a guarantee of US support at the United Nations in exchange for the freeze, which would exclude occupied East Jerusalem.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to accept the offer, which reports say has not yet been finalized. Israeli media reports suggested Netanyahu's security cabinet would pass the proposal by a slim majority.

Strains in Israel coalition over U.S. freeze package (Reuters)
Reuters - Cracks emerged in Israel's right-wing coalition on Tuesday ahead of an expected cabinet vote on whether to accept U.S. inducements to freeze West Bank settlement building so that stalled peace talks can resume.

US says timeline for Mideast peace deal may slip (AP)
AP - The Obama administration is hinting that next year's deadline for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal may slip even if both sides quickly return to direct negotiations.

Netanyahu strikes a deal on Israeli settlements could it freeze peace, too?
The Christian Science Monitor - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, long caught between intensifying US demands and the restlessness of his right-wing allies, appears to have struck a deal to delay Israeli settlement expansion without unsettling his government.

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