Israeli Forces Demolish Emergency Coronavirus Clinic for Palestinians

Monday, 30 March 2020 17:52

Israeli forces on Thursday entered a Palestinian village in the northern Jordan Valley to confiscate materials designated to build a clinic to deal with the novel coronavirus outbreak. 

Officials from the Israeli Civil Administration came to the village of Khirbet Ibziq with a military escort, bulldozer and two trucks equipped with cranes on Thursday morning to demolish community clinic and emergency housing, according to Israeli human rights monitor Btselem. 

The group reported that Israeli officials seized poles and sheeting designated to form eight tents, two for a field clinic, two for a mosque, and four for emergency housing for people evacuated from their homes. 

A power generator, as well as supplies of sand, cement and cinder blocks to be used for the floor of the tents, were also confiscated. Btselem said the villagers were building a first-aid community initiative to deal with the Covid-19 crisis which has paralyzed large parts of the southern West Bank. 

There are 91 confirmed cases so far in the Palestinian territories, with one death reported on Wednesday. 

The Jordan Valley covers an area of about 1.6 million dunams (1,600 km2) and constitutes around 30 percent of the total occupied West Bank. According to a previous government report, the Valley includes about 280,000 dunams of arable land, 50,000 of which are still used by Palestinians and 27,000 by illegal Jewish settlers. 

The majority of the Jordan Valley is under full Israeli military control, despite being within the West Bank. Meanwhile, at least 44 percent of the total land in the Jordan Valley has been reappropriated by Israeli forces for military purposes and training exercises. 

Source: The Palestine Chronicle 

Land Day 2020 in the Time of the Coronavirus

March 30, 2020

Samidoun issued a call for a rally in New York City to commemorate the second anniversary of the Great Return March in Gaza, that has been transformed into a virtual event. (Photo: via Samidoun)

By Benay Blend

On March 3, 2020, Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Network issued a call for a rally in New York City to commemorate the second anniversary of the Great Return March in Gaza.

Plans were to hold the march in conjunction with the Palestine Writes Festival (March 27-29), but due to the Coronavirus the literary gathering has been postponed, and the march, like so many other events, has been transformed into a virtual event.

Two years ago, on March 30, 2018, Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip launched the Great March of Return in order to demand an end to Israel’s closure of the Gaza Strip and the right of return for millions of Palestinian ethnically cleansed from their homes.

Despite Israel’s ongoing use of live ammunition, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, Palestinians continue to use every legitimate means possible—including armed resistance, general strikes, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns, and the Great Return March—in their struggle for national liberation.

This year, in the words of Tamara Nassar: “Palestinians face two enemies: occupation and pandemic.” As Nassar notes, their struggle against the virus entails the same precautions as the rest of the world, while, in addition, Israel “continues to demolish structures, conduct night raids, arbitrarily arrest children and routinely harass civilians.”

For example, palinfo.com reports that on March 27, 2020, Israeli occupation soldiers invaded several areas in the West Bank city of al-Khalil where they “deliberately spat” at Palestinian homes and cars. After their departure, Palestinian workers sterilized the places where the soldiers spat in order to reduce the chances of infection.

Moreover, while the West Bank and Jerusalem are quarantined, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights last week recorded that Israelis undertook 59 home raids and 51 arrests.

All of these atrocities and more are unique to the Occupation. Nevertheless, there is a larger framework that makes it possible to place the Palestinian struggle within a broader context. As stated in Samidoun’s decision to transform the various rallies in support of Gaza into virtual events:

“Protecting each other’s health at this critical time is essential to continuing the struggle against the forces of oppression and exploitation that deny people health care or price it with a profit motive.”

For many in the labor force, this is not an option. In countries under the rule of right-wing capitalist leaders, workers are being told that they have a choice between staying home without a paycheck, thus placing their families under economic hardship, or going to workplaces that put them at risk for serious infection with the virus.

For example, the lieutenant governor of Texas Dan Patrick suggested that older Americans would surely sacrifice themselves in return for guaranteeing their grandchildren’s economic future. He also advocated that the country should be opened up for business in weeks, not months as health professionals propose.

President Donald Trump’s call to open up the country for business by Easter echoed a similar prioritizing of business and mega-church religious leaders over the lives of workers and their families.

In Palestine, too, Akram Al-Waara reports that workers face a similar dilemma, though aggravated by realities of the Occupation. For those working in Israel, new restrictions related to the Coronavirus mean that they have a choice between sacrificing a “much-needed income,” or taking the chance of being apart from their families for months.

As the virus continued to extend across Israel and the West Bank, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennet, who had already closed the borders around Bethlehem, announced that only workers in “essential” fields—construction, healthcare, and agriculture—would be granted entry; everyone else would be quarantined at home.

“While the Israelis are staying inside their homes, they are putting us to work so that things don’t collapse,” Kareem, a Palestinian construction worker, told Middle East Eye, all “for the sake of saving their economy.” Though the situation is different within the context of the Occupation, the paradigm of profit over people is inevitable wherever there is a capitalist economy. In New Mexico, where I live, Indian reservations make up expendable labor pools, much like Palestinians are today.

In the preface to Simon Ortiz’s Fight Back: For the Sake of the People, For the Sake of the Land (1980), historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz explains that “Indians have a basis of unity with non-Indians,” and it is there, “in the fields and on the picket line, that they may see through the smokescreen of racism” to pinpoint the real cause of their oppression: capitalism.

She continues:

“For the Indian and non-Indian worker in the United States and most of the hemisphere, their exploited labor provides the profits for those who claim to own the land and the factories and have armies to back their claim.”

Dunbar-Ortiz’s analysis is more important today than ever as we see workers around the world faced with the choice of watching their families starve without a paycheck or bringing sickness home from their workplace.

As Italians called for a General Strike on March 25 under the slogan “Our lives are worth more than your profits,” and requests for a nationwide rent strike erupt in the U.S., it seems an excellent time for international solidarity among the working class, Indigenous, immigrants and all other oppressed groups of people.

Meanwhile, news sources such as NPR are using fears over the Coronavirus to air the following message: “Israelis and Palestinians now have a common enemy: the Coronavirus.”

Described by +972 Magazine as “ ‘colonization of the mind,’ whereby the oppressed subject comes to believe that the oppressor’s reality is the only ‘normal’ reality that must be subscribed to, and that the oppression is a fact of life that must be coped with,” “normalization” never sleeps. Neither does colonialist oppression, even during the height of the pandemic.

As Akram Al-Waara relates, Palestinian workers in Israel who are suspected to have the virus are “dumped…like trash” near the most convenient checkpoints. “This is the true face of the Israeli occupation,” Ibrahim Abu Safiya told Middle East Eye. “They kill us on a daily basis, so this isn’t any different for them.” No cooperation here over a “common enemy to battle,” as Daniel Estrin of NPR termed it, only the continuation of the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

In Israel, the United States, and around the world, exploited groups of people are expendable, thrown away when no longer serving the needs of the elite. As a community activist and scholar Oliver Baker wrote on Facebook, this is how “whiteness in capitalism works. It expects you to consent to give it your labor and enforce empire. But it cares nothing about your life. It’s time to betray it, or if not, you’ll be in the way of people trying to free themselves from these conditions, and you don’t want to be in the way of that right now.”

Nevertheless, the message of Land Day 2020 remains one of sumoud (steadfastness) and creativity, as Palestinians from Gaza to Bethlehem mobilize collectively to fight the virus.

“If we can overcome Coronavirus, we can overcome the occupation,” writes Suha Arraf, a sentiment echoed by Lucy Thaljiyeh, a city council member and feminist political activist: “The solidarity between people has returned, the solidarity we had during the First Intifada which somehow disappeared in the Second Intifada. We are together once again, trapped; we are taking care of each other.”

As support gathers around the world in the coming days for Land Day 2020, it seems fitting to end with the words of Palestinian American activist and scholar Steven Salaita:

“I find myself thinking about the Gaza Strip, Attica, Wounded Knee, the Warsaw Ghetto, not because our situation is analogous, and not because suffering must be exceptional to have meaning, but because they’re examples of incredible strength amid hardship and insecurity and therefore provide a radical vision of fortitude in which victims of power, not its beneficiaries, serve as inspiration for survival.”

– Benay Blend earned her doctorate in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. Her scholarly works include Douglas Vakoch and Sam Mickey, Eds. (2017), “’Neither Homeland Nor Exile are Words’: ‘Situated Knowledge’ in the Works of Palestinian and Native American Writers”. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

Land Day Report: Sharp Rise in Illegal Jewish Settlement Building in West Bank

March 30, 2020

Israel is accelerating settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank. (Photo: File)
Newly-released statistics show a sharp rise in the building and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Quds Press reported on Sunday.
According to a report issued to mark Palestine Land Day today, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said that the number of Jewish settlements and outposts now stands at 448.
This one on the left is the 1947 partition plan of Palestine.

The one on the right is what is left of Palestine currently because of illegal Israeli settlements. Palestinians fully lost the North part btw and now they only have the red separated parts.
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This includes 150 settlements approved by the Israeli government, 26 outposts that are regarded as extensions of approved settlements and 128 outposts that have been built without the approval of the government.
In the report, the PCBS pointed out that the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank was 671,007 by the end of 2018. Furthermore, last year, the Israeli occupation authorities approved 8,457 new settlement units and 13 new outposts.
In the same period, the Israeli authorities demolished 678 Palestinian facilities, including 251 residential buildings, and issued 556 orders for Palestinians to stop work on building new homes or renovating older premises.
Under international law, Jewish settlements constructed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories constitute a violation of international law and are considered illegal.

(Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, Social Media)

في الذكرى الرابعة والأربعين ليوم الأرض محطات في تاريخ الصراع ووقفات عزّ قومية

سماح مهدي

يُعدّ يوم 1/8/1882 في التاريخ الحديث نقطة الانطلاقة الفعلية من قبل العدو اليهودي باتجاه اغتصاب أرضنا في فلسطين. ففي ذلك التاريخ أنشأت حركة «أحباء صهيون» أول مغتصبة يهودية على أرض فلسطين.

إلا أنّ الإعلان الأبرز عن ذلك التوجه الاغتصابيّ كان على إثر تأسيس المنظمة الصهيونية العالمية بتاريخ 29/08/1897، وعقدها لمؤتمرها الأول في مدينة بازل السويسرية، وكانت أبرز مقرراته إقامة «وطن قومي لليهود» على أرضنا في فلسطين.

باشرت الحركة الصهيونية نشاطها لتستفيد من اندلاع الحرب العالمية الأولى وتوقيع اتفاقية سايكس – بيكو التقسيمية بتاريخ 16/05/1916، فاستحصلت بتاريخ 02/11/2017 على ذلك الوعد المشؤوم من وزير خارجية بريطانيا – آنذاك – آثر بلفور بإقامة الوطن القومي اليهودي المزعوم.

بطبيعة الحال، تصدّى أبناء شعبنا في فلسطين للخطة اليهوديّة المعادية، وعقد المؤتمر الفلسطيني الأول في القدس بتاريخ 27/01/1919. وتلاه المؤتمر الشعبي الكبير في فلسطين بتاريخ 05/03/1919 الذي تقرّر فيه رفض الاحتلال البريطاني ووعد بلفور والهجرة اليهودية ِإلى فلسطين.

ويسجل التاريخ في 27/02/1920 خروج أول تظاهرة وطنية فلسطينية احتجاجاً على سلخ فلسطين عن سورية، فأعلن شعبنا الفلسطيني تمسكه بهويّته القومية وإصراره على البقاء موحداً مع محيطه الطبيعي.

وعلى الرغم من تقرير عصبة الأمم تم تنفيذ الاحتلال البريطاني لفلسطين بتاريخ 24/07/1922، إلا أنّ شعبنا الفلسطيني البطل استمرّ في رفضه ومقاومته لذلك الاحتلال حتى وصل إلى إعلان الثورة الشاملة بتاريخ 15/04/1936.

ولا نذيع سراً أنّ الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي الذي تأسّس في 16/11/1932 ليكون الخطة النظامية المعاكسة للمشروع اليهودي ولحركته السياسية المسمّاة بالحركة الصهيونية، كان واحداً من المشاركين في تلك الثورة، حيث لبّى القوميون الاجتماعيون نداء فلسطين، وقاتلوا دفاعاً عنها ضدّ العصابات اليهودية. فكان أن ارتقى في مدينة نابلس بتاريخ 23/09/1936 أول شهداء الحزب الرفيق حسين البنا إبن بلدة شارون في قضاء عاليه – جبل لبنان.

على الرغم من التصدي البطولي لأبناء شعبنا الفلسطيني في مواجهة مغتصبي الأرض، جاءت لجنة بيل لتعلن عن اقتراحها في 07/07/1937 للمرة الأولى بتقسيم فلسطين إلى دولتين تكون الأولى لأهل الأرض الأصليين والثانية لمغتصبيها من اليهود.

بدأت الحرب العالمية الثانية، فوضعت الحركة الصهيونية كلّ ثقلها للاستفادة من نتائجها في سبيل تحقيق هدف إقامة كيان الاحتلال، خاصة بعد إنشاء الأمم المتحدة بتاريخ 24/10/1945 لتكون الهيئة الدولية الجديدة التي ترعى مصالح الأمم المنتصرة في الحرب.

بتاريخ 02/03/1947 عاد مؤسس الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي أنطون سعاده من مغتربه القسري إلى لبنان، فكانت في استقباله حشود قدّرت بعشرات الآلاف من القوميين الاجتماعيين، فألقى خطابه الشهير المعروف بخطاب العودة الذي جاء فيه:

«ولعلكم ستسمعون من سيقول لكم إنّ في إنقاذ فلسطين حيفاً على لبنان واللبنانيين وأمراً لا دخل للبنانيين فيه. إنّ إنقاذ فلسطين هو أمر لبناني في الصميم، كما هو أمر شامي في الصميم، كما هو أمر فلسطيني في الصميم. إنّ الخطر اليهودي على فلسطين هو خطر على سورية كلها، هو خطر على جميع هذه الكيانات».

استمرّت الخطة المشؤومة في سيرها، فصدر قرار الأمم المتحدة رقم 181 بتاريخ 29/11/1947، والذي قضى بتقسيم فلسطين كما خطّط له أيام عصبة الأمم. ليتبع ذلك إعلان قيام كيان الاحتلال الإسرائيلي بتاريخ 15/5/1948.

ما كان هذا الإعلان أن يمرّ مرور الكرام، فانتفض كلّ من أحبّ فلسطين ليدافع عنها في مواجهة ذلك العدو الوجودي. ومجدّداً، واستجابة لنداء زعيم الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي أنطون سعاده تشكلت الفرق القوميّة للذوْد عن جنوب الأمة السورية، فكانت أولاها «فرقة الزوبعة الحمراء» التي تأسّست بتاريخ 21/5/1948 لتقاتل بقيادة الأمين الراحل مصطفى سليمان النبالي.

استولى المغتصبون اليهود نتيجة حرب العام 1948 على ما يقارب من 78% من أرض فلسطين، وقاموا بتهجير حوالي 85% من أهلها.

لم تكد تضع الحرب أوزارها حتى أعلن كنيست الاحتلال القدس عاصمة أبدية لكيان الاغتصاب اليهوديّ بتاريخ 23/01/1950. وتلا ذلك إصدار ما يُسمّى بقانون العودة بتاريخ 5/7/1950 الذي يبيح أرض فلسطين لكلّ يهود العالم.

تسارعت الهجرة اليهودية إلى أرض فلسطين المحتلة، وسعت حكومة الاحتلال إلى تهويد كلّ القرى والمدن الفلسطينية حتى تلك التي صمد فيها أهلها ورفضوا تهجيرهم رغم كلّ الضغوط التي تعرّضوا لها من قبل قوات الاحتلال.

من ضمن الأراضي المستهدفة بعملية التهويد كانت الأراضي التي تعرف باسم «المل» أو المنطقة رقم 9، وهي تقع ضمن قرى سخنين وعرابة ودير حنا، وتبلغ مساحتها 60 ألف دونم.

وكانت هذه الأراضي تحت سيطرة جيش الاحتلال البريطاني بين عامي 1942 و1944 حيث كان يستخدمها كمنطقة تدريبات عسكرية أثناء الحرب العالمية الثانية.

أبقى جيش الاحتلال الإسرائيلي على الوضع نفسه الذي كان سائدًا في أيام الاحتلال البريطاني، حتى جاء العام 1956 فقام بإغلاق المنطقة بهدف إقامة مخططات بناء مغتصبات يهودية ضمن مشروع تهويد الجليل.

نتيجة لطبيعته الاحتلالية والتوسعية، لم يكتفِ كيان الاحتلال بما احتله من أراضٍ في العام 1948، حتى بلغ أوجه في حرب العام 1967 التي تمكن خلالها من احتلال ما تبقى من أرض فلسطين والجولان وسيناء.

محطة جديدة يثبت فيها الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي أنه حزب فلسطين عبر تشكيل «جبهة الفداء القومي» بقيادة الأمين الراحل سامي خوري، والتي نفذت عمليات عدة ضدّ جيش الاحتلال كان أبرزها العملية البطولية التي نفذت في غور الأردن بتاريخ 17/03/1968 وأسر فيها الرفيق الدكتور عزمي منصور.

على الرغم من تحرير أجزاء من أرضنا القومية المحتلة خلال حرب تشرين التحريرية في العام 1973، إلا أنّ الصراع لم يتوقف، بل استمرّ في سبيل تحرير ما تبقى من أرض تحت الاحتلال ومنع تهويدها ومصادرتها.

وفي هذا الإطار عقد بتاريخ 29/07/1975 اجتماع في حيفا المحتلة حضره مبادرون لتنظيم حملة الاحتجاج على مصادرة الأراضي الفلسطينية بعد أن أعلنت سلطات كيان الاحتلال عزمها على مصادرة 21 ألف دونم من أراضي نحو 12 قرية فلسطينية. وقد ضمّ الاجتماع عدداً من رؤساء المجالس المحلية الفلسطينية وشخصيات وطنية مختلفة من مجاهدين وأطباء ومثقفين ورجال دين وفلاحين. وتقرّر في هذا الاجتماع تشكيل لجنة للدفاع عن الأراضي الفلسطينية.

بتاريخ 15/8/1975 دعت هذه اللجنة إلى عقد اجتماع شعبي موسّع في الناصرة المحتلة تقرّرت فيه الدعوة إلى مؤتمر شعبي عام للمطالبة بوقف مصادرة الأراضي. وصدر عن الاجتماع نداء موجه إلى الرأي العام يدعوه إلى المشاركة في الحملة ضدّ سياسة المصادرة، حيث وقع على هذا النداء آلاف المواطنين وجميع الهيئات الشعبية والمجالس المحلية الفلسطينية.

وعقدت لجنة الدفاع بعد ذلك عشرات الاجتماعات الشعبية في الجليل والمثلث، فكان أبرزها المؤتمر الشعبي العام الذي عقد في الناصرة المحتلة بتاريخ 18/10/1975، الذي عدّ أكبر مؤتمر شعبي يُعقد في فلسطين المحتلة بعد عام 1948 حتى ذلك الحين.

وفي هذا المؤتمر تقرّر إعلان الإضراب العام وتنظيم مظاهرات أمام كنيست العدو إذا لم تتراجع حكومة الاحتلال عن مخططات مصادرة الأراضي الفلسطينية وتهويدها. لكن سلطات الاحتلال تجاهلت ذلك وضربت بمطالب أبناء شعبنا الفلسطيني عرض الحائط.

استمرّ العدو المحتلّ في ممارسة أعمال التهويد، فصدر بتاريخ 13/02/1976 قرار بإغلاق منطقة المل (المنطقة رقم 9) ومنع أهلها من أبناء شعبنا الفلسطيني من الدخول إليها.

كما صدرت بتاريخ 1/3/1976 وثيقة متصرف لواء الشمال في ما يسمّى وزارة داخلية الاحتلال (وثيقة كيننغ) المتضمّنة مجموعة اقتراحات لاستكمال تهويد الجليل، حيث تضمّنت النقاط التالية:

1 ـ تكثيف الاستيطان اليهودي في شمال فلسطين المحتلة (منطقة الجليل).

2 ـ السعي لإنشاء حزب من أبناء شعبنا الفلسطيني يُعتبر «أخاً» لحزب العمل الإسرائيلي ويركز على المساواة والسلام.

3 ـ رفع التنسيق بين الجهات الحكومية الاحتلالية في معالجة مسائل أبناء شعبنا الفلسطيني.

4 ـ إيجاد إجماع «قومي يهودي» داخل أحزاب الاحتلال حول موضوع أبناء شعبنا الفلسطيني الصامدين داخل الأرض المحتلة.

5 ـ التضييق الاقتصادي على العائلات الفلسطينية عبر ملاحقتها بالضرائب وإعطاء الأولوية لليهود في فرص العمل، وكذلك تخفيض نسبة أبناء شعبنا الفلسطيني في التحصيل العلمي وتشجيع التوجهات المهنية لدى التلاميذ.

6 ـ تسهيل هجرة الشباب والطلاب من أبناء شعبنا الفلسطيني إلى خارج البلاد ومنع عودتهم إليها.

دعت لجنة الدفاع بالاشتراك مع لجنة رؤساء المجالس المحلية الفلسطينية إلى اجتماع موسّع عقد في الناصرة المحتلة بتاريخ 6/3/1976 وحضره أكثر من 70 مندوباً يمثلون مختلف القرى والتجمعات الفلسطينية في المثلث والجليل. وفي هذا الاجتماع اتخذ القرار التاريخي بإعلان الإضراب العام يوم 30 آذار عام 1976. لكن سلطات الاحتلال استمرت في تنفيذ مخططها التهويدي.

وبتاريخ 19/3/1976 أصدر وزير المالية في حكومة الاحتلال أمر مصادرة الأراضي الفلسطينية. وانكبّت حكومته على ممارسة شتى أنواع الترهيب بهدف ضرب وحدة أبناء شعبنا الفلسطيني ومنع نجاح الإضراب المقرّر.

وأشاعت حكومة الاحتلال أنه سيتمّ صرف كلّ العمال الذين يتغيّبون عن أعمالهم يوم 30 آذار 1976 من دون تسديد تعويضاتهم المستحقة. كما عمّمت على الدوائر بعدم إعطاء إجازات للعمال من أبناء شعبنا الفلسطيني في يوم الإضراب المحدّد.

كما عمدت حكومة الاحتلال إلى تعبئة قوات كبيرة من الشرطة وحرس الحدود والجيش، ومركزتها في القرى والمدن الفلسطينية.

لم تكتف حكومة الاحتلال بكلّ هذه التدابير الاستثنائية، بل بات وزير شرطتها في مدينة الناصرة المحتلة منذ تاريخ 29/03/1976 ليتابع شخصياً كلّ إجراءات القمع الاحتلالية، حتى وصف ذلك اليوم بأنه اليوم الذي لم يبق فيه جهاز في كيان الاحتلال إلا واشترك في محاولة إفشال الإضراب.

على الرغم من كلّ هذا الاستنفار العام لدى جميع أجهزة سلطات الاحتلال، قرّرت لجنة الدفاع عن الأراضي الفلسطينية والقوى الوطنية الأخرى الاستمرار في المواجهة وخوض صراع قاسٍ مع حكومة الاحتلال أقلّ ما يُقال فيه إنه صراع وجود بكلّ ما تحويه الكلمة من معنى.

وكما هو مقرّر، في يوم الثلاثين من آذار من العام 1976، عمّ الإضراب الشامل مدن وقرى الجليل والمثلث الفلسطينية. فصبّت سلطات الاحتلال جامّ غضبها على أبناء شعبنا الفلسطيني في محاولة بائسة منها لثنيه عن المضي في إضرابه. مما أدّى إلى اشتباكات مباشرة مع قوات الاحتلال كانت أشدّها ضراوة في قرى سخنين وعرابة ودير حنا.

ارتقى نتيجة الصدامات البطولية مع قوات الاحتلال ستة شهداء: ثلاثة من سخنين هم خديجة قاسم شواهة ورجا أبو ريا وخضر خلايلة، وخير ياسين (من عرابة) ومحسن طه (من كفركنا) ورأفت علي زهيري (من مخيم نور شمس في الضفة الغربية واستشهد في الطيبة). هذا فضلاً عن 49 جريحاً ونحو300 معتقل. فيما أصيب من شرطة الاحتلال 20 شرطياً.

لا يختلف إثنان على أنّ يوم الأرض شكل علامة فارقة في تاريخ الصراع الوجوديّ بين أبناء شعبنا في فلسطين المحتلة وقوات الاحتلال. فكانت هذه واحدة من المحطات الأبرز في تاريخ المقاومة الوطنية الفلسطينية المستندة إلى إرادة شعبية موحدة تمكنت من قيادة مواجهات بطولية ضدّ المحتل اليهودي على الرغم من انعدام الموارد واختلال موازين القوة المادية.

يوم الأرض، نجمة مضيئة في تاريخنا القومي المليء بوقفات البطولة، يستمدّ شعبنا الفلسطيني منها روحه المقاومة، فكان في العام 2018 شرارة الانطلاق لمسيرات العودة التي انطلقت من قطاع غزة المحاصر باتجاه أرضنا الفلسطينية المحتلة عام 1948. فأراد أهلنا المقاومون في غزة، ومن ضمنهم رفقاؤنا في منفذية جنوب فلسطين، أن يجعلوا من هذا التاريخ – الثلاثين من آذار – تاريخاً محفوراً في الذاكرة القومية أنه تاريخ حياة التي لا يمكن أن تكون إلا وقفة عز فقط.

*عضو المجلس الأعلى في الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي.

THE BJP AND ISRAEL: HINDU NATIONALISM IS RAVAGING DEMOCRACY IN INDIA

 A

It was only a matter of time before the anti-Muslim sentiment in India turned violent. A country that has historically prided itself on its diversity and tolerance and for being ‘the largest democracy in the world’ has, in recent years, exhibited the exact opposite qualities – chauvinism, racism, religious intolerance, and, at times, extreme violence.

The latest round of violence ensued on February 23, one day before U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Delhi on his first official visit to India.

Trump is a beloved figure among Hindu nationalists, especially supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has ruled India since 2014.

BJP, under the leadership of Narendra Modi, has wreaked havoc on Indian politics and foreign policy. However, the damage that this ultra-nationalist movement has caused to Indian society is unmatched since the country’s independence in 1947.

Under BJP rule, hatred for Muslims, a sizable minority of over 200 million, among other minority groups, has grown over the years to represent the core discourse of a movement that is ideologically and morally bankrupt.

Jumping on the Islamophobia bandwagon, which has grown exponentially since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Hindu nationalists disguised their racist and chauvinistic ideology as part of a global ‘war on terror’.

It was no surprise, then, to see Modi reaching out to like-minded Islamophobes, the likes of right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The seemingly unbreakable Modi-Netanyahu ‘friendship’ underlies a growing pro-Israel movement among Hindu nationalists.

Hindu nationalists embrace Israel

Hindu nationalist ideologues and pro-Israel Zionists have long discovered a common cause, one that is predicated on a collective sense of racial supremacy and intolerance for Islam and Muslims.

In fact, Israel has, in recent years, emerged as the common denominator between various ultra-nationalist and far-right groups in India and across the globe. Strangely but tellingly, some of these groups are known for hostility towards Jews and outright antisemitism. However, for these groups, the anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-Muslim sentiments were far more pressing priorities than all else.

While Europe and North America have received a greater share of political analysis regarding the rise of Islamophobia around the world, countries like India, Burma, and China have largely been excluded from the discussion.

It is true that the discrimination and violence against China’s Muslim minority, the Uyghurs, Burma’s Rohingya population and India’s Muslims, have all received a relatively fair share of media attention and analysis. However, the targeting of Muslims in these polities is largely perceived as provisional ‘conflicts’ that are unique to these areas, with little or no connection to global anti-Muslim phenomena.

But nothing could be further from the truth. For example, the fact that BJP politicians often refer to Muslim migrants in India as ‘infiltrators and termites’ mirrors the same dehumanizing lexicon used by Buddhist nationalists in Burma and Israeli Zionists in Palestine.

The likes of the Hindu Samhati movement, known for its anti-Muslim bigotry, has, therefore, become essential to this new global anti-Muslim brand. And, according to the same disturbing logic, hating Muslims then becomes synonymous with loving apartheid Israel.

Hence, it was not a complete surprise to see tens of thousands of Hindu nationalists rallying in Calcutta in February 2018 in what was described by organizers as “the largest pro-Israel rally” in history.

But what took place in New Delhi in February was more ominous than any other previous display of violence. Dozens of Indian Muslims were beaten to death and hundreds more were severely injured by mobs of angry Hindu nationalists.

While India is no stranger to mob violence, the recent bouts of bloodshed in that country are most alarming considering it is a rational outcome of a racist trajectory that has been championed by the BJP and their supporters.

Particularly alarming were scenes of Indian security forces either watching the brutality against Indian Muslims unfold without intervening or objecting in any way, or worse, participating in the violence themselves.

While it is rightly argued that the anti-Muslim campaign in India was triggered by Modi’s Citizenship Amendment Act which ultimately aims at rendering millions of Muslims in India stateless, the ailment lies in the BJP itself – a purely xenophobic movement that exploits the grievances of the poor and marginalized in India to maintain political power.

It goes without saying that India’s Modi is a far cry from the India that was envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi or the country’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Unfortunately, with Modi and the BJP in power, India will experience yet more tragic days ahead. Flanked by equally racist and violent allies in Tel Aviv and Washington, Modi feels empowered to carry out more such sinister and discriminatory measures against the country’s vulnerable minorities, especially Muslims.

It is essential that we educate ourselves further about the situation in India, and that we understand the anti-Muslim politics and violence in that country within the larger global context. India’s Muslims need our solidarity more than ever before, especially as the emboldened BJP and their chauvinistic leader seem to have no moral boundaries whatsoever.

Feature photo | Hindu nationalists gather in India’s capital to demand construction of a Hindu temple on the ruins of a 16th century mosque in northern Indian city of Ayodhya, Dec. 9, 2018. Bernat Armangue | AP


By Ramzy Baroud
Source: MintPress News

US Forces Use Rukban Camp as ‘Assembly Line for Training Extremists’

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on 

 Syrian refugees gather for water at the Rukban refugee camp in Jordan's northeast border with Syria (File)

Oleg Burunov
The Syrian government and the Russian reconciliation centre have repeatedly assisted those seeking to leave the Rukban camp, located in the US-controlled zone around its unauthorised military base at At-Tanf.

In a joint statement on Saturday, the Russian and Syrian interagency coordination headquarters stressed that the current disastrous situation in the Rukban refugee camp is a result of the illegal occupation of the area by American forces.

“We believe that the American side’s reluctance to exert influence on their militants to ensure unhindered departure of people from the Camp and the safe work of humanitarian representatives in the At-Tanf zone they occupied is clear evidence of their intention”, the statement pointed out.

The headquarters stated that the US military’s “true intention” with regard to Rukban is to use it as an “assembly line for training extremists used to maintain hotbeds of tension in Syria”.

According to the headquarters, the only solution pertaining to the Rukban camp’s humanitarian problem is its final disbandment, the pullout of American forces from the occupied area of At-Tanf, and the transfer of territory to the legitimate Syrian government.

This, the statement pointed out, will help guarantee “the return Syrians to normal life in their homes”.

The statement also underlined that the Russian and Syrian sides had completely fulfilled all their obligations in line with the UN plan for evacuating the remaining refugees from Rukban.

“We consider that further attempts to justify their inaction on the part of the United States and UN humanitarian agencies are unreasonable”, the document emphasised.

The headquarters recalled that there are currently 13,500 refugees in Rukban, including 6,000 militants and members of their families.

The rest remain in the camp “due to bullying by US-controlled militant groups” which claimed that if these residents return home, they will allegedly face “the Syrian authorities’ arbitrariness”.

“Once again, we declare with all responsibility that for every Syrian who wishes to enter the government-controlled territory the doors are always open. All the necessary conditions for decent accommodation have already been created. Refugees from the At-Tanf zone will be provided with the necessary humanitarian, medical, and social assistance”, the headquarters noted.

They signaled Damascus’ readiness to test all those leaving Rukban for coronavirus and, “if infected, to organise their hospitalisation and treatment”.

Syrian Militants Use Civilians as Human Shields in Rukban

The statement comes after the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement in October 2019 that Washington should end the occupation of the At-Tanf border crossing in Syria’s Homs Governorate.

“US service members are stationed illegally in this area…blocking the road that connects Iraq and Syria. We demand an end to their occupation”, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin told journalists.

Earlier, the Russian Centre for Syrian Reconciliation said in September 2019 that the so-called “camp administration, controlled by illegal armed units” refused to let UN buses inside to evacuate those in need, with an intention of keeping the refugees at Rukban as a human shield.

The remarks followed a significant amount of cargo delivered by the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to Rukban being seized by militants and moved to a base belonging to the militant group Kuwat Shahid Ahmad al-Abdo, located to the north of the Rukban camp.

Despite Washington’s previous pledge to withdraw its forces from Syria, US troops are still in place in various parts of the country, where they operate without permission from either the United Nations or Damascus. As far as Rukban is concerned, American forces established the camp in the area of the occupied Homs Governorate near Syria’s borders with Iraq and Jordan.

THE ISTANBUL CANAL AS AN INSTRUMENT OF ERDOGAN’S MULTIPOLARITY

South Front

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

From Father of Turks to Father of Ottomans

Turkey’s president Erdogan will no doubt go down in history as the leader who overturned the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and ended the country’s experiment as a secular nation-state. Perhaps that experiment was doomed to fail from the start—Turkish leaders over the decades have never found a workable formula for including the Kurds in the larger Turkish body politic, except through policies of forcible assimilation. Erdogan, however, was the first to decide to put an end to it and instead reorganize Turkey around principles of neo-Ottomanism and pan-Turkism, in which the economically powerful, politically viable, and culturally proximate Turkish state would no longer seek to join the European Union. Instead it would become a source of international governance, development, and security assistance to the polities which emerged from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, and even to those which were not part of the empire.

As this policy was guaranteed to provoke a negative reaction from every other power player in the region, including Turkey’s ostensible allies in NATO, Erdogan ended up pursuing a policy of “equidistance” with every politically relevant player in his neighborhood. NATO, yes, but also S-400 from Russia. Allowing Russian military flights to use Turkish airspace, yes, but also sales of Bayraktar attack drones and other military equipment to Ukraine. Turkish Stream, yes, but also the Instanbul Canal.

Ending Montreaux

The 1936 Montreaux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits is but one of many Ataturk’s legacies. Signed in 1936 in the Montreaux Palace in Switzerland, it is arguably the only arms control treaty of the interwar era still extant. At the time, it represented an effort to put an end to the centuries of conflict over the control of the Black Sea Straits by giving Turkey control while at the same time limiting other powers’ ability to project naval military power in or out of the Black Sea. In some respects the restrictions on the passage of warships are very real. For example, the Convention allows no more than nine warships with a total displacement of 15 thousand tons to pass through the Straits at any one time. In practice it means a single US AEGIS cruiser or destroyer, and while nothing prevents additional ships from passing later, the total tonnage of foreign warships belonging to powers that do not have Black Sea coastlines of their own cannot exceed 30 thousand tons (45 thousand in exceptional cases), which, again, limits the US Navy to no more than 2-3 AEGIS ships. Combined with a ban on capital ships, which includes aircraft carriers, from foreign navies, it means NATO would be hard-pressed to mount a serious aeronaval operation against any target on the Black Sea. While Montreaux was not greatly tested during World War 2, and the Warsaw Pact aerial and naval preponderance meant challenging it would be a futile exercise in the first place, it has proven its worth in the last decade, particularly after the reunification of Crimea with the Russian Federation. Had it not been in place, NATO’s demonstrations of force in the Black Sea might have been considerably more muscular, to the point of accidentally triggering an armed confrontation. While Russia has always been a supporter of the Montreaux Convention, its current relative military weakness in the Black Sea, where it faces the navies of three NATO member states and currently also that of Ukraine, means the Convention is all the more important to its security.

However, the proposed Istanbul Canal is not covered by the Montreaux Convention, as it specifically pertains to regulating military traffic through the Straits. To be sure, interested parties are bound to argue the intent of the Convention was to cover the passage of naval warships in and out of the Black Sea, and establish a certain level of collective security there. With that in mind, it should not matter whether foreign warships enter the Black Sea via the Straits or through the new Istanbul Canal. Moreover, even when the Canal is functioning any warship entering the Black Sea will have to have passed through one of the two straits—the Dardanelles, since the Istanbul Canal, if completed, will bypass only one of the two straits. The Montreaux Convention specifically refers to the “regime of the Straits”, not a regime of the Bosphorus. Nevertheless, one can be equally certain that some interested parties will make the legalistic argument that that the Montreaux Convention only regulates the passage of warships that pass through both of the straits. Ships may, after all, gain access to the Sea of Marmara that separates the two straits without restrictions placed on ships passing into the Black Sea. Turkish officials have been ambiguous on the future status of the Montreaux Convention, should Istanbul Canal enter into operation.

Gas Warfare

The second dimension of the proposed canal is economic. While the Montreaux Convention does not regulate the passage of cargo ships through the straits, the Bosphorus in particular remains a relatively narrow and convoluted passageway. When one also considers the high population density on both banks of the Bosphorus, the use of this strait by oil tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers raises particular safety concerns. Indeed, up to about 2015 the Turkish government prohibited LNG carriers from traversing the Bosphorus. While this changed during Erdogan’s rule, the ever-present danger of a serious incident means it is only a temporary solution.

Thus even if Turkey opts to apply Montreaux Convention rules on passage of warships remain unaffected, Istanbul Canal will have the potential to considerably increase tanker traffic in and out of the Black Sea. In view of Erdogan’s interest in building up relations with Ukraine, and Ukraine’s search for alternative sources of natural gas, the Canal would have the effect of increasing Turkey’s sphere of influence over the Black Sea. At the moment, there is not a single LNG terminal anywhere on the Black Sea. However, that could change once the construction of the canal moves forward. The most likely candidates are Ukraine, with a proposed site in Odessa, and Romania, with the natural location being Konstanta. US interest in promoting its own interests and expanding political control through oil and gas exports means that either or both projects would be met with enthusiastic US support.

The Mentally Sick Man of Europe

While even the most optimistic estimates do not predict the canal could be built in less than a decade, at a cost approaching $100 billion. Turkey’s own financial situation is not such that it can allow itself such a luxury without undermining other projects, and Erdogan’s ability to alienate other leaders means outside funding might be difficult to come by, particularly if outside funding means outside control over the canal. Yet the whole idea behind the canal is that it should serve the sovereign needs of Turkey. In such circumstances, who would be willing to bankroll Erdogan’s unpredictable whims? No amount of refugee crises is liable to extract that kind of a contribution from the European Union, and US funding would naturally come with US control. So it is no surprise the project’s initial construction start date of 2013 has slipped rather dramatically. Even right now, in 2020, the Turkish government is only talking about launching a tender to select firms that would be engaged in its construction.

Therefore at the moment Istanbul Canal is confined to the realm of pipe dreams. In order for it to be completed, it would have to become the biggest state priority in Turkish politics, and would require international financial and possibly also technological support. While there is no doubting Erdogan’s determination to transform Turkey into a power player capable of dictating its will to its geopolitical neighbors and rivals, the country he governs lacks the capacity for transforming his dreams into reality.

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