THE NABLUS RIOTS AND THE FUTURE OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY

By Ramzy Baroud

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The arrest of a prominent Palestinian activist, Musab Shtayyeh, and another Palestinian activist, by Palestinian Authority police on September 20 was not the first time that the notorious PA’s Preventive Security Service (PSS) has arrested a Palestinian who is wanted by Israel.

PSS is largely linked to the routine arrests and torture of anti-Israeli occupation activists. Several Palestinians have died in the past as a result of PSS violence, the latest being Nizar Banat who was tortured to death on June 24, 2021. The killing of Banat ignited a popular revolt against the PA throughout Palestine.

For years, various Palestinian and international human rights groups have criticized the PA’s violent practices against dissenting Palestinian voices, quite often within the same human rights reports critical of the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. The Hamas government in Gaza, too, has its fair share of blame.

In its January 2022 World Report, Human Rights Watch said that “the Palestinian Authority (PA) manages affairs in parts of the West Bank, where it systematically arrests arbitrarily and tortures dissidents.” This was neither the first nor the last time that a human rights group made such an accusation.

The link between Israeli and Palestinian violence targeting political dissidents and activists is equally clear to most Palestinians.

Some Palestinians may have believed, at one point, that the PA’s role is to serve as a transition between their national liberation project and full independence and sovereignty on the ground. Nearly thirty years after the formation of the PA, such a notion has proved to be wishful thinking. Not only did the PA fail at achieving the coveted Palestinian State, but it has morphed into a massively corrupt apparatus whose existence largely serves a small class of Palestinian politicians and business people – and, in the case of Palestine, it is always the same group.

PA corruption and subsequent violence aside, what continues to irk most Palestinians is that the PA, with time, became another manifestation of the Israeli occupation, curtailing Palestinian freedom of expression and carrying out arrests on behalf of the Israeli army. Sadly, many of those arrested by the Israeli military in the West Bank have experienced arrest by PA goons, too.

Scenes of violent riots in the city of Nablus following Shtayyeh’s arrest were reminiscent of the riots against Israeli occupation forces in the northern West Bank city or elsewhere in occupied Palestine. Unlike previous confrontations between Palestinians and PA police – for example, following the killing of Banat – this time, the violence was widespread, and involved protesters from all Palestinian political groups, including the ruling Fatah faction.

Perhaps unaware of the massive collective psychological shift that took place in Palestine in recent years, the PA government was desperate to contain the violence.

Subsequently, a committee that represents united Palestinian factions in Nablus declared on September 21 that it has reached a ‘truce’ with PA security forces in the city. The committee, which includes prominent Palestinian figures, told the Associated Press and other media that the agreement restricts any future arrests of Palestinians in Nablus to the condition that the individual must be implicated in breaking Palestinian, not Israeli, law. That provision alone implies a tacit admission by the PA that the arrest of Shtayyeh and Ameed Tbaileh was motivated by an Israeli, not a Palestinian agenda.

But why would the PA quickly concede to pressure coming from the Palestinian street?

The answer lies in the changing political mood in Palestine.

First, it must be stated that resentment of the PA has been brewing for years. One opinion poll after another has indicated the low regard that most Palestinians have of their leadership, of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and particularly of the ‘security coordination’ with Israel.

Second, the torture and death of political dissident Banat, last year, has erased whatever patience Palestinians had towards their leadership, demonstrating to them that the PA is not an ally but a threat.

Third, the Unity Intifada of May 2021 has emboldened many segments of Palestinian society throughout occupied Palestine. For the first time in years, Palestinians have felt united around a single slogan and are no longer hostage to the geography of politics and factions. A new generation of young Palestinians has advanced the conversation beyond Abbas, the PA and their endless and ineffectual political rhetoric.

Fourth, armed struggle in the West Bank has been growing so rapidly that the Israeli army Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, claimed on September 6 that, since March, around 1,500 Palestinians have been arrested in the West Bank and that, allegedly, hundreds of attacks against the Israeli military have been thwarted.

In fact, evidence of an armed Intifada is growing in the Jenin and Nablus regions. What is particularly interesting, and alarming, from the Israeli and PA viewpoint, about the nature of the budding armed struggle phenomenon, is that it is largely led by the military wing of the ruling Fatah party, in direct cooperation with Hamas and other Islamic and national military wings.

For example, on August 9, the Israeli army assassinated Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, a prominent Fatah military commander, along with two others. Not only, did the PA do little to stop the Israeli military machine from conducting more such assassinations, six weeks later, it arrested Shtayyeh, a close comrade of Nabulsi.

Interestingly, Shtayyeh is not a member of Fatah, but a commander within the Hamas military wing, Al-Qassam. Though Fatah and Hamas are meant to be intense political rivals, their political tussle seems to be of no relevance to military groups in the West Bank.

Unfortunately, more violence is likely to follow, for several reasons: Israel’s determination to crush any armed Intifada in the West Bank before it is widespread across the occupied territories, the looming leadership transition within the PA due to Abbas’s old age, and the growing unity among Palestinians around the issue of resistance.

While the Israeli response to all of this can easily be gleaned from its legacy of violence, the PA’s future course of action will likely determine its relationship with Israel and its western supporters, on the one hand, and with the Palestinian people, on the other. Which side will the PA choose?

GIVING VOICE TO THE VOICELESS: TALES FROM THE PARENTS OF TORTURED PALESTINIAN CHILDREN

AUGUST 26TH, 2022

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By Miko Peled

BEIT HANINA, OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – The United States House of Representatives submission to Israel and Zionism is both pathetic and enraging. This total submission to the will and interests of the Zionist movement and the State of Israel does not serve the interests of the American people, and only goes to support a state that has been recognized as a racist, violent apartheid regime. As one Palestinian said to me recently, U.S. foreign aid for Israel goes towards my oppression and the killing of my people.

Nowhere is Congress’ blind support for Israel more heinous, more horrifying and more outrageous than the lack of support for the bill proposed by Representative Betty McCollum and known as, “Defending The Human Rights Of Palestinian Children And Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act”, or HR 2590.

When I asked the now defeated Representative Andy Levin about this issue, he said to me that, “no Jewish member of congress will sign the bill,” and when I asked why, he said that it was “anti-Israel.” His response was indicative of the problem. Knowing how Israel treats children makes it imperative to sign any bill that is, as he put it, “anti-Israel.” Why he feels that Jewish members of congress should express loyalty to Israel at all, and on this issue in particular, is another question, and one that needs to be explored. Many Jewish people in America resent the fact that they are somehow expected to be loyal and even held accountable for the actions of a country that wrongly declares itself to be the “Jewish State.”

TWO MOTHERS

Anyone who has been to Palestine and has taken the time to speak to Palestinian parents knows what they must endure when Israeli authorities take away their children. There is no law, no court, no human rights organization in the world that can protect Palestinian children from Israel. What these parents know and are unable to understand is the fact that the United States can protect their children, but elects not to do so.

Mourners pray over the bodies of six Palestinians, including children, killed by Israeli airstrikes in Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza, Aug. 6, 2022. Abdel Kareem Hana | AP

Just a few days prior to writing these words, I had met with two Palestinian mothers on two separate occasions. One in the village of Nabi Saleh, and the other in Beit Hanina, Jerusalem. No parent with a beating heart can listen to their stories and refrain from crying. No person with a conscience can sit idly by as Israel tortures both children and parents on an ongoing basis and not want to raise their voice.

NABI SALEH

More has been written and said about the village of Nabi Saleh than one would expect for such a small place. Tucked in one of the most beautiful sports in Palestine, Nabi Saleh has about five hundred residents, all part of the Tamimi clan, one of the largest clans in Palestine. However, as they say, it’s not the size of the person, or in this case the village, in the fight, but the size of the fight in the person. Well, never has this been more true than in the case of Nabi Saleh. It is a small village with the heart and a fighting spirit larger than one hundred villages put together.

Probably the most famous fighter in Nabi Saleh is Ahed Tamimi, the daughter of my friends Bassem and Nariman whose home is like a second home to me. Bassem and Nariman have known their share of sorrow and pain with their own experiences and those of their children being taken by the occupying enemy. However, this particular story is about their cousins Osama and Hamada, as it was told to me by their mother Manal Tamimi.

All Palestinians know that interrogation by the Israeli authorities means torture. In this particular case, both the older sons of Manal and Bilal were taken at the same time. Osama was 19 years old and Hamada was about 17. Their interrogation lasted over three weeks, during which Osama had to be taken to the hospital twice. “We were not able to visit him in the hospital, nor did they tell us why he was taken to the hospital,” Manal told me. When the enemy occupier takes your children, you assume the worst.

Ahed Tamimi is brought to a courtroom inside the Ofer military prison near occupied Jerusalem, Jan. 15, 2018. (AP/Mahmoud Illean)
Ahed Tamimi is brought to a courtroom inside the Ofer military prison near occupied Jerusalem, Jan. 15, 2018. Mahmoud Illean | AP

“I used to sleep in their beds at night just to feel close to them. One night in Osama’s bed and one in Hamada’s,” Manal said. Knowing your child is being tortured, exposed to the elements, being treated so severely that he has to be taken to the hospital and having no ability to be there with him is more than any parent should have to endure. “The sensitivity to extreme light and loud noises remained with Hamada even after he was released,” she added.

Hamada, who is the younger of the two, spent twenty-two months in an Israeli prison. Osama was held for about a year. Manal and Bilal had to pay thousands of dollars, as all parents of Palestinian children have to do, before the authorities released them.

AHMAD MANASRA

I ran into Ahmad Manasra’s lawyer, Khaled Zbarka, in El-Lyd. We were there at a vigil commemorating the murder of Musa Hassuna at the hands of settlers in May 2021. I was introduced to Khaled by El-Lyd city councilwoman Fida Shehade. She suggested that I meet with Khaled and Amhad Manasra’s parents in Jerusalem, where they reside. As things turned out, Khaled was not available, and I went to meet Ahmad’s parents without him.

The story of Ahmad Manasra is well documented, and the latest development is that on August 16 the Israeli court in Bi’r Saba held a hearing regarding his extended isolation in solitary confinement. “He sits there in that cell with nothing but the four walls surrounding him,” his father, Abu-Ahmed, said to me over and over again. The Israeli court rejected the request to end isolation and the recommendation by several mental health experts and international human rights organizations to release him to a mental health care facility where he could receive the urgent care he requires.

Ahmad was badly injured when he was arrested. He had been beaten, run over, and suffered from bleeding and internal injuries. This was seven years ago: he was thirteen years old at the time. His mother thought he was dead at first. Only after a day was she told that he was still alive. Ahmad was handcuffed to a bed at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. His parents were still not permitted to see him. One can hardly imagine the pain of a parent whose child is in hospital but is not allowed to comfort them.

When he was released from the hospital, he was sent to an institution for young offenders. Only after two months of horrifying experiences there were his parents permitted to see their child.

“We were told our boy was involved in a terror attack!” His mother, Umm Ahmad, told me, still in shock by the absurd notion that her sweet, sensitive son could be accused of something like that. His cousin, fifteen, who was also there, was shot on the scene by bystanders. “At thirteen they accused him of terrorism,” Abu Ahmad said over and over. “Thirteen years old a terrorist? Who can accuse a child or terrorism?”

Visits are limited to forty-five minutes once a month. “When he is in the hospital, which often happens for Ahmad, they are not permitted to see him. “He was moved between prisons about ten times,” Abu Ahmad said. I mentioned that this is a violation of international law. His reply was, “Ahmad’s entire case is a violation of international laws. Imagine that: at the age of thirteen, he was interrogated without the presence of a parent or a lawyer.” When the parents plan a visit, very often they receive a message two days before they leave. “They will notify us that he was moved and so the visit is postponed and we cannot see him for another month,” Abu Ahmad told me.

PRESSURE

The text of the bill to defend Palestinian children can be found here, and the list of co-sponsors, here. Anyone who is eligible to vote in the upcoming midterm election needs to demand that their candidate commit to adding their name to this bill. No consideration should come before the well being of a child.

THE SHAMEFUL UN ‘LIST OF SHAME’: EQUATING BETWEEN THE ISRAELI PERPETRATOR AND THE PALESTINIAN VICTIM

JULY 20TH, 2022

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By Ramzy Baroud

We regret we failed to protect you. This was part of a statement issued by United Nations human rights experts on July 14, urging the Israeli government to release Palestinian prisoner Ahmad Manasra. Only 14 years old at the time of his arrest and torture by Israeli forces, Manasra is now 20 years old. His case is a representation of Israel’s overall inhumane treatment of Palestinian children.

The experts’ statement was forceful and heartfelt. It accused Israel of depriving young Manasra “of his childhood, family environment, protection and all the rights he should have been guaranteed as a child.” It referred to the case as ‘haunting’, considering Manasra’s “deteriorating mental conditions”. The statement went further, declaring that “this case … is a stain on all of us as part of the international human rights community”.

Condemning Israel for its ill-treatment of Palestinian children, whether those under siege in war-stricken Gaza, or under military occupation and apartheid in the rest of the occupied territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, is commonplace.

Yet, somehow, Israel was still spared a spot on the unflattering list, issued annually by the United Nations Secretary-General, naming and shaming governments and groups that commit grave violations against children and minors anywhere in the world.

Oddly, the report does recognize Israel’s horrific record of violating children’s rights in Palestine. It details some of these violations, which UN workers have directly verified. This includes “2,934 grave violations against 1,208 Palestinian children” in the year 2021 alone. However, the report equates between Israel’s record, one of the most dismal in the world, and that of Palestinians, namely the fact that 9 Israeli children were impacted by Palestinian violence in that whole year.

Though the deliberate harming of a single child is regrettable regardless of the circumstances or the perpetrator, it is mind-boggling that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres found it appropriate to equate the systematic violations carried out by the Israeli military as a matter of course and the 9 Israeli minors harmed by Palestinian armed groups, whether intentionally or not.

To deal with the obvious discrepancy between Palestinian and Israeli child victims, the UN report lumped together all categories to distract from the identity of the perpetrator, thus lessening the focus on the Israeli crimes. For example, the report states that a total of 88 children were killed throughout Palestine, of whom 69 were killed in Gaza and 17 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. However, the report breaks down these murders in such a way that conflates Palestinian and Israeli children as if purposely trying to confuse the reader. When read carefully, one discovers that all of these killings were carried out by Israeli forces, except for two.

More, the report uses the same logic to break down the number of children maimed in the conflict, though of the 1,128 maimed children, only 7 were Israelis. Of the remainder, 661 were maimed in Gaza and 464 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The report goes on to blame “armed Palestinian groups” for some of the Palestinian casualties, who were allegedly injured as a result of “accidents involving children who were near to military training exercises”. Assuming that this is the case, accidents of this nature cannot be considered “grave violations” as they are, by the UN’s own definition, accidental.

The confusing breakdown of these numbers, however, was itself not accidental, as it allowed Guterres the space to declare that “should the situation repeat itself in 2022, without meaningful improvement, Israel should be listed.”

Worse, Guterres’ report went further to reassure the Israelis that they are on the right track by stating that “so far this year, we have not witnessed a similar number of violations”, as if to suggest that the right-wing Israeli government of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid has purposely changed its policies regarding the targeting of Palestinian children. Of course, there is no evidence of this whatsoever.

On June 27, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) reported that Israel “had been intensifying its aggression” against children in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the beginning of 2022. DCIP confirmed that as many as 15 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli forces in the first six months of 2022, almost the same number killed in the same regions throughout the entirety of the previous year. This number includes 5 children in the occupied city of Jenin alone. Israel even targeted journalists who attempted to report on these violations, including Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed on May 11, and Ali Samoudi, who was shot in the back on the very same day.

Much more can be said, of course, about the besiegement of hundreds of thousands of children in the Gaza Strip, known as the ‘world’s largest open-air prison’, and many more in the occupied West Bank. The lack of basic human rights, including life-saving medicine and, in the case of Gaza, clean water, hardly suggests any measurable improvement in Israel’s track record as far as Palestinian children’s rights are concerned.

If you think that the UN report is a step in the right direction, think again. 2014 was one of the most tragic years for Palestinian children where, according to a previous UN report, 557 children were killed and 4,249 were injured, the vast majority of whom were targeted during the Israeli war on Gaza. Human Rights Watch stated that the number of killed Palestinians “was the third-highest in the world that year”. Still, Israel was not blacklisted on the UN ‘List of Shame’. The clear message here is that Israel may target Palestinian children as it pleases, as there will be no legal, political or moral accountability for its actions.

This is not what Palestinians are expecting from the United Nations, an organization that supposedly exists to end armed conflicts and bring about peace and security for all. For now, the message emanating from the world’s largest international institution to Manasra and the rest of Palestine’s children will remain unchanged: “We regret we failed to protect you.”

EVERY BULLET HAS A NAME: IMPUNITY FOR ISRAELI CRIMES AGAINST PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

JULY 1ST, 2022

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By Miko Peled

When Ahed Tamimi tried to defend herself and her home from an armed Israeli officer she became an international heroine. Images of her were plastered everywhere and she was named a “Lioness.” As she candidly admits in her soon to be published memoir (co-written with Dena Takruri) she did not want, nor did she seek this fame. She just wanted to go to school and play soccer.

What Ahed’s story demonstrates is that we have forsaken the Palestinian people. Even Palestinian children are left alone to defend themselves with their bare hands against a vicious occupation force that sends soldiers and officers who are armed to the teeth to attack Palestinians in their homes and are never held accountable for their crimes.

WHO DEFENDS PALESTINIANS?

The answer is no one. When Palestinians risk their lives as they do regularly in their heroic efforts to stay alive and resist oppression, there is no one that stands between them and the Israeli war machine. Ahed Tamimi was recently targeted again. However, the bullet intended for her hit her cousin, who was standing next to her. The soldiers actually called her by name.

Then we saw the same thing in the case of Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-known and respected journalist. Shireen was assassinated in broad daylight. There was no accountability at all, from the shooters to the decision makers who gave the orders. We have come to learn that when Palestinians are targeted we can expect no arrests or serious investigation.

Noted activist Issa Amro is another example. He is thankfully still alive, but there is no certainty that he will be tomorrow. In the city of Hebron where Issa lives and works, soldiers and settlers surround him as he stands in the front line trying to free himself, his city and indeed his country from their brutality. The Old City of Hebron is perhaps one of the most dangerous places to be a Palestinian. Issa is well known for his commitment and dedication to resistance, albeit a dedicatedly unarmed resistance. The soldiers and the settlers recognize him and he is in constant danger.

Issa has been detained, arrested, beaten and dragged to military court enough times to fill the pages of a thick memoir. A new escalation in his persecution seems to have begun in the summer of 2022. In a matter of weeks, his house has been raided several times and he was detained and harassed by soldiers who handcuffed and blindfolded him, keeping him like that for hours.

DEFENDING THE DEFENDERS

People often use the term “for no reason,” when speaking about their unjust harassment, detention, arrest and killing by Israeli forces. However, this term is misleading. In the case of Issa Amro, as in the case of Shireen Abu Akleh, Ahed Tamimi and countless others, there is an excellent reason. The motive for the killing of Shireen and the constant brutal assault on people like Issa is that they have a voice that is heard around the world. Israel is terrified and when an armed bully is scared, it reacts with violence.

Another aspect of Issa Amro’s case is that he was designated a “human rights defender” by the United Nations in 2010. The U.S. State Department followed suit in 2011, as did the European Union in 2013. A 2016 Amnesty International report entitled “Israeli Government Must Cease Intimidation of Human Rights Defenders, Protect Them From Attacks,” lists Issa and several others as human rights defenders and details the ways in which the Israeli government regularly harasses them. Since the report came out, six years have passed and nothing is being done to see to it that these defenders are protected. The question that needs to be answered without delay is, who defends the defenders when they are attacked brutally and with impunity by Israel?

EVERY BULLET HAS A NAME

How far back do we need to go in order to demonstrate how Israel gets away with murder? From its very founding moment, Israeli forces have been murdering Palestinians with impunity. Raids on homes and arrests and detention of political activists have been part of the daily life of Palestinians from the very beginning of the Apartheid regime in 1948.

Israel targets people and then executes its plan whether it is to detain, arrest, or otherwise harass them. In some cases, their targets are shot and killed. When they kill a well-known Palestinian, we hear about it, talk about it and then move on until we hear of another name. Each one of these Palestinians had a bullet with their name on it and it was just a question of time until that bullet found its mark. Unless the supply of bullets to Israel is brought to an end, the killing of Palestinians will continue uninterrupted.

International organizations that claim to stand for the rights of the oppressed need to have their feet on the ground. Like soldiers, they must have people there to stand in the midst so that Palestinians are protected. With all due respect, the designation of a human rights defender may help but it does not guarantee the lives or even the safety of those who carry it. Any organization, governmental or non-governmental that claims to have the interests of the oppressed on its agenda needs to stand in front of Israeli soldiers as they harass and endanger the lives of Palestinians.

NOT ALL SOLDIERS WEAR A UNIFORM

Indeed, some soldiers wear suits. In capitals around the world, representatives of the state of Israel walk around in suits. But they are no less violent and racist than the soldiers in uniform in Hebron or the settlers in El-Lyd or the Yoav unit of the Israeli police that operate in the Naqab. They are all equally dedicated to the destruction of Palestine and to the preservation at all costs of the Apartheid regime.

The soldiers in suits walk through the halls of governments, the offices of big corporations, and the headquarters of NGOs to ensure that the Apartheid regime’s interests are protected. So far the evidence shows that their work is rewarded and their interests are protected.

What is also clear is that the lives of Palestinians, be they unarmed activists or fighters, be they children, women, men, or the elderly, are only worth the price of the bullet that carries their name. And while we will talk and write about the next Palestinian who is killed for a few days, their children will remain orphans for life.

COGNITIVE WARFARE: ISRAEL TARGETS JOURNALISTS WHO THREATEN ITS REALITY-CREATION TACTICS

JUNE 23RD, 2022

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TODD PIERCE

They were shooting directly at the journalists: New evidence suggests Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in targeted attack by Israeli forces”. Thus read a CNN headline on May 26, 2022, for an article describing what may have been a “targeted killing,” – that is, assassination – of Al Jazeera journalist Shirleen Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old highly esteemed Palestinian-American journalist who had covered Israeli repression of the Palestinian population for about 25 years before she was killed.

With this killing and its aftermath, one knows that it is all hands on deck for an Israeli government cognitive campaign in the perpetual cognitive war Israel wages against the world, as will be explained below.

According to the CNN article, Abu Akleh was killed by a bullet to the head at around 6:30 a.m. on May 11, while standing with a group of journalists near the entrance of Jenin refugee camp as they covered an Israeli raid. “We stood in front of the Israeli military vehicles for about five to ten minutes before we made moves to ensure they saw us. And this is a habit of ours as journalists; we move as a group and we stand in front of them so they know we are journalists, and then we start moving,” a Palestinian reporter, Shatha Hanaysha, told CNN, describing their cautious approach toward the Israeli army convoy before the gunfire began.

Video recordings of the surrounding area showed the killing shots could have come only from the Israeli soldiers in specially designed “sniper” vehicles that were in direct line-of-fire positions to Abu Akleh that morning. Eyewitnesses told CNN that they “believed Israeli forces on the same street fired deliberately on the reporters in a targeted attack. All of the journalists were wearing protective blue vests that identified them as members of the news media.”

“LAWFUL TARGETS” IN A “COGNITIVE WAR”

The “blue vests” might have been what ensured the journalists would be targeted by Israeli forces, if Israeli forces see journalists as “lawful targets” in the war they continue to wage against the Palestinians, in what is in fact a continuation of the 1967 War. That is, an unrelenting military occupation in violation of international law, which constitutes a continuation of the “war.” And the evidence shows Israeli military/intel forces do see journalists as “lawful targets,” as part of the “Cognitive War” they wage against the Palestinians, but more particularly against the global population in an attempt to legitimize their military oppression of the Palestinians in their ongoing effort of “population expulsion” of the Palestinians from Palestinian territory. As Benjamin Netanyahu’s father, Benzion, proclaimed shortly before he died, this is the objective of Israel Zionists like him.

In fact, while Abu Akleh was the only journalist killed that day by Israeli forces, she wasn’t the only Palestinian journalist shot. A group of four Palestinian reporters was fired upon as well, with one also injured in the gunfire. That was not because Israeli forces had an obstructed view; footage showed a direct line of sight between the reporters and the Israeli convoy. That only one of the four was hit, besides Abu Akleh, is probably taken by military superiors as a sign that their marksmanship must be improved.

A firearms expert told CNN: “The relatively tight grouping of the rounds indicate Shireen was intentionally targeted with aimed shots and not the victim of random or stray fire.”

But an indication of how the Israeli military sees journalists, other than “reliable” Israeli press, was revealed on the day of the shooting by an Israeli military spokesperson, Ran Kochav. Kochav told Army Radio that Abu Akleh had been “filming and working for a media outlet amidst armed Palestinians. They’re armed with cameras, if you’ll permit me to say so.” And if they are “armed,” they are “lawful targets” in “war.”

In fact, the killing of journalists has been openly called for in the “flagship publication” of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, The Journal of International Security Affairs, by retired U.S. Army Officer Ralph Peters. The odious 2009 article – potentially a war crime in itself – stated: “Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts, and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media.”

THE POWER OF “COGNITIVE WARFARE”

The Israeli military said it was conducting an investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, and added, “assertions regarding the source of the fire that killed Ms. Abu Akleh must be carefully made and backed by hard evidence. This is what the IDF is striving to achieve.” In fact, obfuscating that is what the IDF and its Cognitive Warfare component must be seen as “striving to achieve” – at least if Israeli Cognitive War theorists, one of whom is quoted at length below, are to be believed.

Leaving it to those few journalists who report honestly to provide more facts on this assassination – as Abu Akleh would have, giving motive to Israeli forces to particularly target her with lethal fire – “Cognitive Warfare” should be explained further.

The best source for understanding the concept is Israel’s own doctrinal statements about the “cognitive domain” of warfare. A clue to that was presented when an Israeli lawyer filed a lawsuit alleging that “Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs [is] carrying out a global propaganda campaign on behalf of the Israeli government that violates human rights and is acting without authority to do so… Attorney Schachar Ben Meir’s petition demands that the High Court of Justice order a halt to the activities carried out by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, headed by Gilad Erdan.”

The substance of the claim was that the Israeli government had approved the payment of NIS 128 million ($38 million) to a private organization called Kela-Shlomo to carry out “mass consciousness activities” within the framework of what the Ministry of Strategic Affairs calls “extra-governmental discourse.” That is, publication of government propaganda on social networks and newspapers often carried out through private businesses and non-profit organizations operating in Israel and abroad.

But to determine the correct “messages” to promote or counter requires “surveilling citizens and conducting illegal operations intended to influence and manipulate public opinion.” That is what constitutes “mass consciousness activities” – a fascist type of governmental activity if there ever was one, but “updated” to utilize “private contractors” to conduct operations, in addition to governmental military/intel assets. This explains the proliferation of “private Israeli intelligence/influence” firms.

THE MUSINGS OF A COGNITIVE WARFARE THEORIST

The current Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Nachman Shai, who in the past was a spokesperson for the Israeli military, explained and promoted the higher level to which cognitive warfare has been taken from its origins as mere “propaganda” or “hasbara,” in his book “Hearts and Minds: Israel and the Battle for Public Opinion.”

He explained that, in the expected 21st-century wars of Israel and the United States, the “principal effort will be the battle for consciousness.” He explained further:

[There] are various terms to describe the battle for consciousness. In Britain, it is called the fight for hearts and minds. The U.S. military uses the expressions psychological warfare, perception management, influence management, and information operation. The idea speaks about consciousness: the strategy of limited conflict is to win a decision of consciousness in the society with the help of military means. The battle is for the society’s consciousness and for national resilience.”

Furthermore, according to Shai: “Consciousness is not a natural and inherent concept but rather a structured process, continually shaped by interested parties and by those who wield wealth and power.” How this is done in its current terminology is described in a publication of the Israeli “Institute for National Security Studies” entitled: “The Cognitive Campaign: Strategic and Intelligence Perspectives.” Its Preface states:

It is important to distinguish between cognition and the cognitive campaign. Cognition is the set of insights that an individual or individuals have regarding the surrounding reality and the way they want to shape it, derived from the set of the values and beliefs through which they examine and interpret their environment and work to confront its inherent challenges, and even to change it. In contrast, the cognitive campaign involves the actions and tools that entities that are part of a certain campaign framework use to influence the cognition of target audiences or to prevent influence on them. The purpose of  the cognitive campaign is to cause target audiences to adopt the perception of reality held by the side wielding the effort, so that it can more easily advance the strategic and/or operational objectives that it sees as critical. The cognitive campaign can be negative, that is, prevent the development of undesirable cognitive states, or positive, with an attempt to produce the desired cognition.

That the “cognitive campaign can be negative, that is, prevent the development of undesirable cognitive states,” is why Julian Assange has been imprisoned for years now, with no likelihood he will ever be freed by the U.S. government and why Edward Snowden was forced to take refuge in a foreign country to avoid the same fate. The U.S. must silence them and other dissidents, lest an “undesirable cognitive state” develops in the U.S. population – as one eventually developed over the Vietnam War, and eventually forced the U.S. out of Vietnam.

Thus it is reasonable to believe that is why Israel has targeted so many journalists over the last couple of decades – as has the U.S. It would be foolish and/or naïve not to believe that when retired military officers openly call for “targeted killings” of journalists, that they aren’t already being targeted!

MAKING OUR OWN REALITY

When Karl Rove was alleged to have said how the United States is now “an empire, we make our own reality,” he was not just making a hubristic statement. Rather, it can be seen as an indication that he was aware of how powerful a “cognitive campaign” is. In fact, such campaigns were always how the CIA conducted post-World War II coups, and it can be speculated that “cognitive campaigns” were introduced into U.S. political campaigns by Arthur Finkelstein and his “Six-Party Theory” in the 1972 Nixon campaign, down to the 2016 Trump campaign, based upon cognitive warfare principles drawn from CIA coups and the Israeli military occupation.

The authors of “The Cognitive Campaign: Strategic and Intelligence Perspectives” wrote:

The cognitive campaign is not new, and it is an inseparable aspect of every strategic and military conflict. In recent years, this struggle has played a much more important role than in past conflicts; at times it takes place without a direct military context and is not even led by military bodies. The cognitive campaign is a continuous campaign; thus, its prominence is greater in the period between wars (as a part of the “campaign between wars).”

In fact, as these authors know, there is no such thing as “between wars” in Israel or the United States, with both countries in “Perpetual War” regardless of the level of aggressive kinetic war they are waging at any given moment.

Carl von Clausewitz wrote in “On War” that two different motives make men fight one another: hostile feelings and hostile intentions. Inciting those “feelings” is done by both Israel and the U.S. continuously, by multifarious networks to “condition” their populations with “hostile feelings and hostile intentions.” As has been done in the U.S. to incite hatred of Russia, China, Iran, et al., so that a war with either one, or all, can explode at any moment. Israel does the same against Iran and the Palestinians. Mission Accomplished!

Israeli airstrikes target Palestinian Resistance sites in Gaza

June 18, 2022

Source: Agencies + Al Mayadeen English

By Al Mayadeen English 

Israeli reconnaissance planes target with two missiles the vicinity of a ground control point in the Malakah area in the Zeitoun neighborhood.

Fireballs and smoke rise from the site in central Gaza following the Israeli airstrikes.

Al Mayadeen correspondent reported Saturday about new explosions heard in eastern Gaza and the eastern cemetery area as sirens were triggered in the Gaza envelope settlements of Askalan.

Our correspondent reported that Israeli reconnaissance planes targeted with two missiles the vicinity of a ground control point in the Malakah area in the Zeitoun neighborhood, east of Gaza, adding that Israeli bombing targeted Resistance sites in the central governorate of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli occupation also targeted an observatory of the Resistance east of Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip.

In tandem, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in the Waha area northwest of besieged Gaza Strip, revealed our correspondent.

Later, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) claimed that they had intercepted a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.

Read more: “I am too young to die”: Children in Gaza left traumatized

Related Stories

ISRAEL’S DANCE OF FLAGS IS A ZIONIST HATE PARADE AND, BY DEFINITION, AN ACT OF WAR

JUNE 7TH, 2022

Source

By Miko Peled

JERUSALEM – It is sometimes easier to see things from a distance, especially when talking about Palestine, where tragedies follow each other with unbelievable speed. There is no time to recover from one tragedy before two or three more occur, all initiated by Israel with its all-powerful military and then justified or buried by various branches of Zionist groups around the world.

The Dance of Flags, sometimes called the Flags March, takes place in Jerusalem each year around the beginning of June. In 2022 it was preceded by the targeted killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the assault on her funeral procession, followed by the killing of several more young Palestinians. The decision to carry out the ethnic cleansing of Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills took place around the same time, yet not a moment of thought is given to the fact that there is a war going on.

The March of Flags in Jerusalem was an act of war. Israeli assaults on Jenin are an act of war. The displacement of the residents of Masafer Yatta is an act of war. And this is counting only the events that took place in the last few weeks.

THE FLAGS MARCH

Anyone who has witnessed the Dance of Flags firsthand in Jerusalem can attest to the fact that this is, without a doubt, a parade of terror. The thousands of young Israelis get excited for the moment when they enter the Old City of Jerusalem through the Damascus Gate so that they can pound on the doors of Palestinian businesses and terrorize the Palestinians who reside in the Old City.

Each year the organizers of this racist hate parade go through the formality of negotiating with the Jerusalem police regarding the specific route of the march. Every year the police and other government agencies charged with security say that the request to enter the Old City via Damascus Gate is a dangerous idea. And every year the March proceeds as planned through Damascus Gate. Being the masters of the land and wielding a great deal of political power, the organizers of the Dance of Flags always get their way.

DAMASCUS GATE

In Arabic, the Damascus Gate is called Bab el-Amoud, or the Gate of the Pillar. Apparently, in early times there was a large pillar in front of the gate on the inside. Generally, one can tell a great deal about a city just by paying attention to its gates. For example, when entering the Old City via Jaffa Gate and going down into the souk, one sees shops catering to tourists; and, in fact, most tourists and Israelis enter through there. It is considered a more “friendly” part of the Old City. The shops carry all sorts of Judaica, yarmulkes, menorahs and even IDF t-shirts.

When entering from Damascus Gate, one sees fewer tourists. Mostly Palestinians walk through it and the shops sell things that people actually need for their daily lives. Vegetables, bread, sweets, clothes and shoes. The shops that do carry items for tourists carry mostly kaffiyas and items like t-shirts that emphasize Palestine and show the Palestinian colors. The non-Palestinians walking the street down from Damascus Gate are usually hardcore Israeli settlers, who have taken over some of the homes along the road, and soldiers.

Israel Flags March
Palestanians defend against Jewish youth partaking in the Flags March, May 29, 2022. Ariel Schalit | AP

TAKING OVER

It is a straight shot walking from Damascus Gate to the al-Aqsa Mosque, and to the Western Wall – or the Kotel – plaza. The plaza used to be the Mughrabi neighborhood of the Old City. Palestinians live and have businesses in that part of the city, but settlers are targeting and taking homes there at an alarming rate. The homes that have already been taken by settlers are clearly marked and easy to spot. First, a heavy door with a bolt is placed at the front of the home. You don’t see the Palestinian homes with doors like that. An intercom is put in place and very often an armed security guard stands regularly by the door.

A large Israeli flag is displayed on the building, usually hanging from the second story balcony. It is very often that these apartments are right above shops that are still owned and operated by Palestinian merchants who suffer greatly from the settlers’ presence. As one shopkeeper whose store I frequent often said to me once, “Ma fi awsakh minhum” – no one is worse than them.

AN ACT OF WAR

According to the “Law Insider” website, an act of war is defined as follows:

Act of war (whether declared or undeclared), invasion, armed conflict or act of foreign enemy, blockade, embargo, revolution, riot, insurrection, civil commotion, act of terrorism or sabotage.

Another example of a definition is:

Act of war means hostile or warlike action, whether declared or not, in a time of peace or war, whether initiated by a local governmentforeign government or foreign groupcivil unrestinsurrectionrebellion or civil war.

The Flags March held in Jerusalem each year falls under these definitions. It is an invasion of the Old City by a mob large enough to be a small army; it is a riot; it is civil commotion, and it is an act of terrorism that involves sabotage. Even though those who participate in this hate parade are civilians, there is always a heavy military presence that accompanies them. It was reported that in 2022 some three thousand officers were deployed in Jerusalem for the purpose of this march. That represents nearly the entire Jerusalem police force.

Israel Flags
Israeli police snatch a flag from an elderly woman amid the Flags Day march in the Old City, May 29, 2022. Mahmoud Illean | AP

Not to be mistaken with traffic police, or cops on a beat looking for criminals, the police force that is deployed in East Jerusalem is of a different kind. This is a militarized police force and the officers are referred to as “fighters,” not officers. They look like soldiers, the arms that they carry are like those of soldiers, but their mandate is to attack Palestinian civilians, something they do with cruelty and brutality.

Zionists always blame Palestinians who respond to Israeli acts of war with acts of armed resistance against civilians. They call it terrorism. There is no question that it is terrible when civilians are killed and injured. The problem is that throughout the entire war Israel has waged against Palestinians it has been targeting civilians. There is no Palestinian military – there never was such a thing – and Israel has consistently, and with planning, targeted and killed Palestinian civilians going as far back as one can remember.

Perhaps it is time to step back and instead of viewing each act of violence perpetrated by Israel separately, instead view them all together as individual acts of a larger war – a war waged against a nation that has never possessed an army.

بين تراكم القوة وسياسة الإشغال تغيّرت معادلات كثيرة

الأحد 12 حزيران 2022

 حسين مرتضى

يُقال إنّ في السياسة لا توجد معادلات ثابتة، وإنّ المعادلات السياسية تتبدّل وفق المعادلات الميدانيّة، وكلّ تلك المعادلات ترتبط بالمشهد السياسي على مستوى المنطقة والإقليم والعالم.

في التحليل السياسي نجد بأنّ العالم انتقل من مرحلة القطب الواحد إلى مرحلة تعدّد الأقطاب، وهناك محوران رئيسيان حالياً على الساحة الدولية.

قد تشتبك الملفات السياسية والميدانية وتزداد تعقيداً وفق التطورات الأخيرة، وهنا نؤكد أنّ هناك تطوّراً لافتاً في عدد من الملفات أبرزها الملف النووي الإيراني واللافت فيه أن تعود الوكالة الدولية بتقاريرها الفنية حول البرنامج النووي الإيراني إلى نقطة البداية في الوقت الذي اعتقد الكثير من المتابعين والمراقبين خلال الأشهر الماضية أنّ الاتفاق النووي قد حُسم أمره، وأنّ التوقيع هو مسألة ساعات فقط بعد سلسلة من الاجتماعات واللقاءات التي عُقدت بين إيران والدول الأوروبية وبمشاركة الإدارة الأميركية من خلف الجدران.

بشكل مفاجئ تمّ تجميد الملف النووي الإيراني كما تجمّدت الكثير من الملفات في المنطقة، في وقت استمرّ فيه كيان الاحتلال «الإسرائيلي» بتنفيذ عدة عمليات اغتيال منها ما تمّ تنفيذه داخل طهران، بالإضافة الى الاستعداد ضمن مناورات جوية وغيرها تحاكي واقع تنفيذ ضربة عسكرية للجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية.

لا نريد هنا أن نتحدث كثيراً عن الملفات الأخرى لا إنْ كان ما له علاقة باللقاءات والاجتماعات الإيرانية السعودية والتي خفت وتيرتها مؤخراً. ولا على صعيد العدوان على اليمن والهدنة الكاذبة التي لم تغيّر من معاناة أهل اليمن شيئاً، وصولاً الى الواقع الميداني السياسي على الساحة السورية والذي برزت فيه محاولة تحريك المنطقة الجنوبية والمنطقة الشمالية إضافة إلى تسخين المنطقة الشرقية بهدف خلط الأوراق على الساحة السورية في ظلّ الواقع السياسي الجديد المرتبط بالملف الروسي ـ الأوكراني.

لكن ما يمكن ان نقوله هنا انطلاقاً من بعض المعطيات، هل ستبقى سياسة تراكم القوة هي العامل الأساس في خلق التوازن في المنطقة؟ او انّ الاعتماد على قاعدة جديدة ردعية تعطي رسائل يكون مفعولها فورياً ومؤثراً أكثر؟ أعتقد أنه من المهمّ في مكان ما أن تتبدّل هذه القاعدة وان تتغيّر قواعد الاشتباك إنْ كان هذا الاشتباك مع الأميركي مباشرة او حتى مع كيان الاحتلال وما بينهما من دول هي أدوات للسياسات الأميركية في المنطقة، قاعدة تراكم القوّة يمكن ان تتعرّض في لحظة ما لنكسة أو هجوم يُفقد المحور هذه المعادلة بينما معادلة الإشغال غير المباشر وحتى المباشر في بعض المرات تصبح الأهمّ في فرض الكثير من هذه المتغيّرات والمعادلات، وحتى لا تبقى سياسة امتصاص الصدمات تحت قاعدة تراكم القوّة يجب ان يكون هناك في المرحلة المقبلة وليست بالبعيدة العمل باستراتيجية علنية يفهم من خلالها العدو أنّ هناك معادلة جديدة سيتمّ اعتمادها والعمل بها وعليك أن تستعدّ وتترقّب…

إسرائيل تستكين وتهدد: تفاهمنا مع لبنان عبر أميركا

  الإثنين 6 حزيران 2022

المصدر:الاخبار

يحيى دبوق

تلتزم إسرائيل الرسمية بصمت لافت إزاء وصول حفّارة التنقيب عن النفط والغاز إلى حقل «كاريش»، فيما تترك لإعلامها ومراسليه إدارة معركة التصريحات والمواقف و«اختبار الإرادات والنيات»، عبر تقارير محدودة وموجّهة.
لم ترد من تل أبيب، حتى الآن، مواقف وتعليقات رسمية ذات شأن، فيما تترك إدارة المسألة البحرية مع لبنان، بما يشمل نية الحفر في «كاريش»، لتقارير مراسلي الشؤون العسكرية والأمنية والاقتصادية، ولكن تحت إدارة وإشراف واضحين من الرقابة العسكرية وبتوجيه من المؤسسة العسكرية. ووفقاً لما صدر في اليومين الأخيرين، يمكن ملاحظة الآتي:

أولاً، تُدار خطة الحفر في كاريش بتأنٍّ وحذر وعدم الانجرار إلى التعليق الرسمي، عسكرياً وسياسياً، بما يحقّق الأهداف، ويحول دون استفزاز الطرف الآخر أو كشف النيات الحقيقية له. وهذا يستدعي، في المقابل، تأنّياً وحذراً في إطلاق المواقف وتقدير أفعال العدو. فالمواقف والتعليقات الواردة من لبنان، بما فيها إشارات الفعل واللافعل والتأييد واللاتأييد للمقاومة والتشبّث بالحق الغازي والنفطي، كلها ستكون جزءاً لا يتجزّأ من أي قرار تتخذه إسرائيل إزاء الاعتداء على الحق اللبناني.

ثانياً، من الواضح تماماً قرار المستويين السياسي والعسكري بترك الأضواء للإعلام العبري هذه الفترة لينشر ويعلق ويقدّر المواقف والمآلات. وهذه سياسة مدروسة جداً ويرجح بقوة أنها مقرّرة بما يلزم كل المستويات الإسرائيلية. فأي موقف رسمي، سياسي أو عسكري، يصدر مباشرة عن أي مسؤول في تل أبيب، وتحديداً من الصف الأول، سيكون مُحرِجاً جداً للكيان العبري. كما تفتح هذه السياسة نافذة التراجع في حال قدّرت القيادات المعنية وجود أضرار يحاول العدو تجنّبها.

ثالثاً، تتحدث التقارير الإسرائيلية، على قلّتها حتى الآن، عن أن عمليات الحفر ومن ثم استخراج الغاز من «كاريش»، هي عمل طبيعي ولا يرتبط بأي نزاع قانوني أو غير قانوني مع لبنان. بل تشير التقارير العبرية، بنوع من الاستغراب، إلى أن «هناك في لبنان» من يتحدث عن مكان متنازع عليه رغم أن «هذا المقطع الشمالي خارج أي تنازع». وكان لافتاً ما ورد في تقرير مراسل الشؤون العسكرية في القناة 12 بأن «الجزء الشمالي لحقل كاريش يلامس الحدود البحرية للبنان»، وهي ملامسة وليست خرقاً. والأهم في التقرير هو التأكيد على وجود اتفاق مسبق مع لبنان يخرج «كاريش» من دائرة التنازع، إذ جاء في التقرير أن «هناك توافقاً حول الموضوع جرى التوصل إليه عبر اللجنة المشتركة التي يرأسها المبعوث (الأميركي) الخاص للطاقة في الشرق الأوسط عاموس هوكشتين».
في موازاة ذلك، تحرص التقارير العبرية على إظهار «اضطرار» إسرائيل لاستخراج الغاز من حقل «كاريش» تحديداً، بوصفه حاجة استراتيجية لا يمكن لتل أبيب أن تتجاوزها. وفق التعبير العبري فإن «منصة كاريش تشكل مرفقاً اقتصادياً أساسياً ومن المتوقع أن يزود الاقتصاد الإسرائيلي بالغاز الطبيعي الذي يُستهلك في إسرائيل نفسها لسد حاجاتها الخاصة» وليس مخصصاً للتجارة، وصولاً إلى الإشارة إلى ضرر قد يصيب قطاعات استراتيجية أخرى، «وقد يؤدي الضرر الذي يلحق بالمنصة إلى صعوبات حقيقية في أداء الاقتصاد الإسرائيلي، إلى حد الإضرار بإمدادات الكهرباء المنتظمة للإسرائيليين».

رابعاً، إلى جانب «البراءة والوداعة والحاجة الاقتصادية والحرص على التفاهم المسبق»، تلمح التقارير الإسرائيلية إلى وجود إجراءات وتدابير عسكرية تخدم أمن حقل «كاريش» وما فيه من معدات ومنشآت، يتولاها سلاح البحر في جيش العدو. ووفقاً للتقارير العبرية، «بدأ سلاح البحرية عملية أمنية واسعة حول منصة الحفر والإنتاج التي وصلت صباح اليوم (أمس) إلى وجهتها على بعد تسعين كيلومتراً قبالة الساحل الإسرائيلي، عند النقطة الأقرب إلى شواطئ لبنان»، مشيرة إلى أن البحرية الإسرائيلية ستنهي في الأسابيع المقبلة ترتيباتها وإجراءاتها، لتبدأ عمليات الحفر، ومن ثم استخراج الغاز». مع الإشارة إلى أن «لغة تهديد» تضمّنها الحديث عن نشاط البحرية الإسرائيلية مثل التذكير، بعد أكثر من عام على اعتدائها الأخير على قطاع غزة (معركة سيف القدس)، بأن الدفاعات الجوية أسقطت طائرة مسيّرة لحركة حماس أُطلقت من غزة كانت موجّهة لاستهداف حقول غاز في المتوسط».

تعمل إسرائيل وفق استراتيجية مدروسة لتكون قادرة على فرملة نفسها وفقاً لردّ الفعل المقابل

تقرير القناة 12 العبرية كان عنوانه سؤال: «منصة الغاز التي قد تشعل مواجهة مع حزب الله؟». هنا يجب إعادة صياغة السؤال حول مآل «المواجهة التي تسبّبت بها إسرائيل، انطلاقاً من حقل كاريش؟» وقد يكون السؤال الثاني، أكثر دقّة وموضوعية.

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THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF MASAFER YATTA: ISRAEL’S NEW ANNEXATION STRATEGY IN PALESTINE

JUNE 2ND, 2022

By Ramzy Baroud

Source

The Israeli Supreme Court has decided that the Palestinian region of Masafer Yatta, located in the southern hills of Hebron, is to be entirely appropriated by the Israeli military and that a population of over 1,000 Palestinians is to be expelled.

The Israeli Court decision, on May 4, was hardly shocking. Israel’s military occupation does not only consist of soldiers with guns but elaborate political, military, economic and legal structures, dedicated to the expansion of the illegal Jewish settlements and the slow – and sometimes not-so-slow – the expulsion of the Palestinians.

When Palestinians state that the Nakba, or Catastrophe – which led to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel on its ruins – is a continuous, unfinished project, they mean exactly that. The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the endless torment of Palestinian Bedouins in the Naqab and, now in Masafer Yatta, are all testaments to this reality.

However, Masafer Yatta is particularly unique. In the case of occupied East Jerusalem, for example, Israel has made a fallacious, ahistorical claim that Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish people. It combined its unsubstantiated narrative with military action on the ground, followed by a systematic process that aimed at increasing the Jewish population and ejecting the original native inhabitants of the city. Such notions as ‘Greater Jerusalem’ and legal and political structures, like that of the Jerusalem Master Plan 2000, have all contributed towards turning the once absolute Palestinian majority in Jerusalem into a shrinking minority.

With the Naqab, Israel’s similar objectives were put into motion as early as 1948, and again in 1951. This process of ethnically cleansing the natives remains in effect to this day.

Though Masafer Yatta is part of the same colonial designs, its uniqueness stems from the fact that it is situated in Area C of the occupied West Bank.

In July 2020, Israel purportedly decided to postpone its plans to annex nearly 40% of the West Bank, perhaps fearing a Palestinian rebellion and unwanted international condemnation. However, the plan continued in practice.

Moreover, a wholesome annexation of West Bank regions would mean that Israel would become responsible for the welfare of entire Palestinian communities. As a settler-colonial state, Israel wants the land, but not the people. In Tel Aviv’s calculation, annexation without the expulsion of the population could lead to a demographic nightmare; thus, Israel needs to reinvent its annexation plan.

Though Israel has supposedly delayed the de jure annexation, it continued with a de facto form of annexation, one that has generated little international media attention.

The Israeli Court’s decision regarding Masafer Yatta, which is already being carried out with the expulsion of the Najjar family on May 11, is an important step toward the annexation of Area C.  If Israel can evict the residents of twelve villages, with a population of over 1,000 Palestinians, unhindered, more such expulsions are anticipated, not only south of Hebron, but throughout the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian villagers of Masafer Yatta and their legal representation know very well that no real ‘justice’ can be obtained from the Israeli court system. They continue to fight the legal war, anyway, in the hope that a combination of factors, including solidarity in Palestine and pressure from the outside, can ultimately succeed in compelling Israel to delay its planned destruction and Judaization of the whole region.

However, it seems that Palestinian efforts, which have been underway since 1997, are failing. The Israeli Supreme Court decision is predicated on the erroneous and utterly bizarre notion that the Palestinians of that area could not demonstrate that they belonged there prior to 1980 when the Israeli government decided to turn the area into ‘Firing Zone 918’.

Sadly, the Palestinian defense was partly based on documents from the Jordanian era and official United Nations records that reported on Israeli attacks on several Masafer Yatta villages in 1966. The Jordanian government, which administered the West Bank until 1967, compensated some of the residents for the loss of their ‘stone houses’ – not tents – animals and other properties that were destroyed by the Israeli military. Palestinians tried to use this evidence to show that they have existed, not as nomadic people but as rooted communities. This was unconvincing to the Israeli court, which favored the military’s argument over the rights of the native population.

Israeli firing zones occupy nearly 18 percent of the total size of the West Bank. It is one of several ploys used by the Israeli government to lay a legal claim on Palestinian land and to, eventually, years later, claim legal ownership as well. Many of these firing zones exist in Area C, and are being used as one of the Israeli methods aimed at officially appropriating Palestinian land with the support of the Israeli courts.

Now that the Israeli military has managed to acquire Masafer Yatta – a region spanning 32 to 56 sq km – based on completely flimsy excuses, it will become much easier in ensuring the ethnic cleansing of many similar communities in various parts of occupied Palestine.

While discussions and media coverage of Israel’s annexation scheme in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley have largely subsided, Israel is now preparing for a gradual annexation scheme. Instead of annexing 40% of the West Bank all at once, Israel is now annexing smaller tracts of land and regions, like Masafer Yatta, separately. Tel Aviv will eventually connect all these annexed areas through Jewish-only bypass roads to larger Jewish settlement infrastructures in the West Bank.

Not only does this alternative strategy allow Israel to avoid international criticism, it will also permit Israel to eventually annex Palestinian land while incrementally expelling Palestinians, helping Tel Aviv prevent demographic imbalances before they occur.

What is happening in Masafer Yatta is not only the largest ethnic cleansing scheme to be carried out by Israel since 1967, but the move should be considered the first step in a much larger scheme of illegal land appropriation, ethnic cleansing and official mass annexation.

Israel must not succeed in Masafer Yatta, because if it does, its original, mass annexation scheme will become a reality in no time.

THE ASSASSINATION OF SHIREEN ABU AKLEH: WHO GAVE THE ORDER?

MAY 23RD, 2022

By Miko Peled

Source

JENIN, OCCUPIED PALESTINE – Israel’s announcement that it will not pursue an investigation into the killing of famed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was not surprising. The specific reasons it gave to justify the decision make little difference. However, one thing is certain: It is highly unlikely that the killing of a journalist like Shireen Abu Akleh was the decision of a lone soldier or a commander on the ground.

Abu Akleh was well known and well respected. She was clearly identifiable as a non-combatant and a journalist who posed no threat to Israeli forces. She had been in similar situations before and knew how to take the necessary precautions, including wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest. She had to be shot by a well-trained sniper, and their identity must be known to the Israeli authorities.

There had to have been an order or, at the minimum, approval given by the highest levels of the Israeli defense apparatus, as high as the minister of defense or even the prime minister, before the sniper could execute this assassination. Then, in a pretty transparent attempt to cover up the assassination, Israel pretended to want to conduct an investigation and demanded that the Palestinian Authority, which conducted the autopsy, hand over the bullet that killed Abu Akleh.

Quoting an Israeli military official, The Times of Israel reported that “[t]he Israeli military has identified a soldier’s rifle that may have killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.” However, it continues to claim that “it cannot be certain unless the Palestinians turn over the bullet for analysis.” The attempt to deceive is ever-so-obvious in this statement. Since it had to have been a sniper who aimed and then took the shot, there can be no doubt who pulled the trigger.

PALESTINIAN MILITANTS?

The British paper The Guardian recently wrote, “Abu Aqleh [sic] was killed during an arrest raid by an Israeli commando unit on Palestinian militants.” Statements like this demonstrate the larger problem. The Israeli commando raids have no justification and are responsible for countless deaths of Palestinian civilians. Framing Palestinian fighters – defenders of their camp, their city and their people – as “militants,” and the Israeli invaders as “commandos,” immediately places the blame on the Palestinians and justifies the Israeli attack, thus justifying every Israeli raid.

Palestinian youth aim weapons
Palestinian youth aim weapons at occupying Israeli troops in Jenin, May 13, 2022. Majdi Mohammed | AP

This framing, typical in the media, allows the constant, never-ending killing of young Palestinians by Israel to go on uninterrupted. It begs the question: How many Palestinians need to die before the reporting is honest and Israel is forced to stop the killing?

Every so often, an event causes people to lift their heads and acknowledge that Israel went too far and that maybe something needs to be done. When Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered, there was a moment like that. When, a few days after the killing, her funeral procession was brutally attacked by Israeli forces, that was another such moment. But these moments are few and far between.

And these moments, even when they do come, do not last very long and yield no real results. Sometimes a letter is sent by a member of U.S. Congress; sometimes a few statements are made demanding an investigation into what took place. Then people move on and forget, and the flow of Palestinian blood – mostly young, promising men – continues unabated.

The roll of names of young Palestinians killed by Israel is too long to list; and, besides, by the time you try to write it down, more are added. The ages vary, but many are under 21. The images of weeping parents and siblings – sometimes a wife and a child, if they were old enough to marry – continue to flow as though this were some unavoidable, unpreventable curse.

In an open and frank interview I recently conducted with veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, he speaks of his frustration with the Israeli media and the Israeli audiences that consume it. “The media doesn’t want to report, and the consumers don’t want to know,” Levy passionately exclaimed.

TOEING THE LINE

When the Israeli press report on a killing, they never fail to toe the government line, so the Palestinian is always a terrorist or part of a violent riot. He or they, as the case may be, had to be dealt with, and the courageous Israeli fighters did so. From time to time, to demonstrate just how professional the Israeli forces are, they are shown in action. Images are shown of these forces entering a refugee camp, which, as of late, they have often been doing, particularly in the northern part of the West Bank.

Israel brings in several battalions of commando units, Shabak secret-police units, or anti-terrorist forces, all heavily armed and wearing the best communication and protection equipment in the world, and equipped with unlimited amounts of ammunition. Israeli forces also have the best-trained medics, the finest first-aid capabilities, and helicopters ready to evacuate an injured soldier speedily. Once evacuated, an injured Israeli soldier receives the finest medical care in modern, well-equipped facilities.

Israeli raid
Israeli forces raid a home in Jenin, May 13, 2022, the day of Abu Akleh’s funeral. Majdi Mohammed | AP

All of this to face a few young Palestinians armed with little more than M-16s. The Palestinians have no helmets, no bulletproof vests, possess limited amounts of ammunition, and risk a very high possibility of getting injured or killed. A Palestinian wounded in battle does not have access to the same level of emergency medical care as the Israeli forces. Not even remotely. Palestinian ambulances, if they can even make it to the scene, are poorly equipped, and medical facilities are far and are rarely equipped well enough to deal with severe injuries.

LIFE GOES ON

On the Israeli side, life goes on as though nothing significant happened. Watching the news makes Israeli society numb. Clashes, Palestinians killed, the coalition government facing yet another crisis, Netanyahu may or may not be close to returning to the prime minister’s chair; who knows. From time to time, an Israeli settler or an officer is killed, their name is mentioned in the news, and people cry for a few days and forget. Settlements are being built – so many thousands in the Naqab, thousands more in east Jerusalem – and people of Msafer Yota in the South Hebron Hills are being forced off of their lands, but this is all normal, nothing to worry about. Israelis travel overseas for vacation and go out to cafes and restaurants — new ones open daily. One has to try them all.

How unrest in Bedouin villages poses a threat to Israel’s government

22 Jan, 2022 

Source

By Robert Inlakesh

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and currently works with Quds News and Press TV. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe’. Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47

The Negev’s Bedouin demonstrations first re-erupted on January 9 in opposition to an afforestation (tree planting) project by the quasi-governmental body called the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in what Israel calls “disputed lands.” They quickly turned violent as Bedouin residents of nearby villages confronted what they saw as a drive to displace their communities. Israel’s police forces, domestic intelligence service (Shin Bet), and, as of last Thursday, the Israeli military, were all deployed to help put down the growing movement. The clashes that ensued resulted in tens of Bedouin Palestinians being arrested and injured. Additionally, stones were thrown at an Israeli train and an Israeli journalist’s car was torched.

The JNF project is just the beginning of a larger $48 million project set forth by the Israel Land Authority, which threatens to cover residential areas where six unrecognized Bedouin villages are located. While Israeli environmentalists argue that the project is geared towards cleaning up the land, Bedouin villagers see the push as a means of displacing them and taking away their agricultural lands, which is where the JNF began planting trees last week. Although the tree planting has been frozen as of an Israeli government concession, following pressure by Israeli lawmaker Mansour Abbas’s threat to pull out of the coalition government, the projects for construction in the Negev are still under way.

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced in late December the construction of four settlements in the Negev, as part of a project to establish 12 new settlements there and raise the Jewish population to 2 million over 10 years. Shaked is part of Israeli Premier Naftali Bennett’s right-wing Yamina Party, and this is where the issue begins to get more complex for the current Israeli administration, and poses a major threat to its political establishment.

Just days before the surge of protests, on January 6, the Israeli government was pressured to freeze plans for a phosphate mine project in the Negev, which threatened to displace 36,000 Bedouins living in al-Fura’a village. This came after Israeli lawmaker Mansour Abbas’ ‘Ra’am Party’ pressured the government to halt the plan. Abbas, leader of the ‘United Arab List’, made history by becoming the first Palestinian-Israeli to enter an Israeli coalition government. Bennett and Yair Lapid, who negotiated a power-sharing agreement – meaning both would share serving as prime minister – did so to oust former PM Benjamin Netanyahu and received criticism for aligning centrists, right wingers and an Islamic party in order to do so. This now also means that if Mansour Abbas pulls out of the government, he could effectively cause the fall of the Bennett-Lapid coalition as it would not hold a majority in the Knesset. 

When it comes to the issue of Bedouin in the Negev, Mansour Abbas understands that a large portion of his voter base (60%) comes from that region and so on this issue he is willing to throw his weight around. Attempts have been made to secure the establishment of four Bedouin villages in the Negev by Abbas, although Israel’s plan is to have three major newly constructed Bedouin areas, where 70% of the Bedouin community would live, which would pave the way for communities to be forcibly transferred to these segregated Bedouin areas. 

On this issue I spoke to a Bedouin Palestinian protester, present at the al-Atrash village demonstrations. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said that “most of us reject this plan and seek to remain on our lands.” He told me he feels the “oppression we face, especially with our homes being destroyed,” which has led to a rise in Palestinian nationalism and political activism amongst the Negev population. “If you look at the demonstration, whose flag do you see held high? [The Palestinian flag],” he said.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid seems to prefer a pragmatic stance here, but his coalition partner Bennett cannot afford to abandon his base by appearing weak on popular right-wing causes. Netanyahu’s Likud Party has also gotten into the mix with the party’s spokesperson, Jonatan Urich, stating“The Bennett government mulling to stop planting due to violence against police is a continuation of it selling out the Negev to the Islamic Movement,” hitting out at Bennett from the right. For the Israeli opposition, led by Likud, if the government loses its majority over this issue, it paves the way for their possible, gradual, return to power.

Riya al-Sanah, an activist from Lakiya village in the Negev, says “Israel has pursued a policy of displacement through what they call infrastructure and national priority projects, this includes laying railways or roads, industrial areas, or in this case forestation.”

Of course in a settler colonial context the majority of the project, and certainly this context, described as being in the interest of the population comes against the direct interests of the Palestinian population, so what Palestinians are saying here on the ground is that you are planting trees and uprooting people… this is not a new strategy, this is a project the JNF has led even prior to 1948.”

“Planting trees is a method to hide the presence of Palestinian communities. So, for example, a lot of Israel’s national parks are constructed on the remains of Palestinian villages. Forestation is also a mechanism that is used to stop Palestinians returning to their land once they are actually displaced,” says al-Sanah, elaborating on why planting the trees has caused such a strong response. “It’s a step towards displacing the communities, it’s not just about planting the trees, people see that as a way of taking their land.”

Riya also stated that the displacement of Bedouins in the Negev and the West Bank are very much interlinked. In the Negev, she explained, “as well as facing systematic house demolitions, they [Bedouins] are disconnected from the water, electricity and any infrastructure which enables a reasonable standard of living.” She also believes the demonstrations of solidarity taking place throughout the country are “a continuation of what we saw in May of last year, when Palestinians everywhere rose up against Israeli policies of displacement in Sheikh Jarrah [in East Jerusalem].”

In 2020, a report put together by the Israeli NGO called the ‘Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality’, indicated – using statistics from 2017, 2018 and 2019 – that an average of 2,000 Bedouin homes had been destroyed yearly in the region. The Bedouin population is estimated to be around 300,000 in the Negev (al-Naqab in Arabic), and they are the most impoverished community inside Israel, with the majority lacking basic welfare, education and health services. Whilst Israeli settlements and Kibbutzim communities stand at 114 for Israeli Jews, all recognised by the state, only seven of 53 Israeli-Bedouin villages are currently fully recognised.

In 1948, the population of around 100,000 Bedouin that lived in the Negev were reduced to 11,000, due to Israeli expulsion efforts. The remaining group of Arab Bedouin were displaced to an area called al-Siyaj, which was placed under military rule. In 1965 the Israeli Knesset adopted the ‘Planning and Building Law’, which then made most of the Siyaj area “agricultural lands,” making building homes there illegal. This even meant homes built there prior to the law taking effect would also be considered illegal. Al-Araqib is an example of a village, demolished 186 times, that has fallen victim to Israel deeming building in such areas illegal. 

Riya al-Sanah says, of the current demonstrations, “it is not just the question of recognition of the existing residential areas… the demands are recognition and ownership of the land in the Naqab [Negev], which Israel has consistently refused to do.” She went on to say that “the demands [of the demonstrators] are not just about recognition, because the card of recognition is often waved by Israel and historically has not happened… recognition has only happened in partial areas of the land and there are villages with partial recognition, which has meant there’s still home demolitions going on in villages recognised since 2000.” 

In 2017, due to rising tensions over Israeli government neglect of the Bedouin community, a five-year plan was adopted by the Knesset to tackle the socioeconomic disadvantages faced by Bedouins in the Negev. But, due to a lack of implementation, Mansour Abbas has criticized the government and urged them to fulfill their obligations. Israel clearly sees economic benefits in constructing infrastructure in the Negev; the area is also a key portion of the country for the military and its bases.

Palestinian citizens of Israel in areas like Umm al-Fahm, Haifa, Kufr Qassim and elsewhere have now mobilised to confront Israeli construction plans in the Negev, uniting with the Bedouin of the south and protesting for their cause as their own. Hamas, the PFLP, DFLP, PIJ and other political parties have come out to urge their supporters to confront Israel in the Palestinian occupied territories over the Negev issue also. If the issue goes too far and Israel’s government cannot agree on concessions, this could potentially lead to the most serious threat to the state’s stability since May last year, a very bad prospect for Bennett and Lapid.

Palestinian Hunger Strikes Resist New Israeli Govt’s Continuation of Old Govt’s Brutality

November 05th, 2021

Palestinians are stepped on by the heavy boots of a regime that, while it may seem new, is in fact as brutal, cruel and racist as any Zionist government ever was.

By Miko Peled

Source

JERUSALEM — Israel’s most unlikely prime minister, Naftali Bennett — who won only six seats in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, or Knesset, and yet became PM — just returned to Jerusalem after attending the Glasgow Climate Conference. Photos of him with world leaders, demonstrating his popularity overseas, and his success in passing the budget — the first budget the Knesset had managed to pass since 2018 — are cementing Bennett’s chances of remaining in power even though his government holds a very narrow majority.

Passing a budget is always a Herculean task but this time it was an even more difficult one. The Knesset passed the 2021 state budget into law by a 61-59 vote at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 4, giving Israel a new budget for the first time since March of 2018. This means that another round of elections is not likely to take place any time soon.

All that is left now is the ongoing competition between the coalition government and the opposition block over who is more right-wing. It is a competition between the current government — headed by Bennett, a former head of the Settlers movement — and the opposition, headed by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

But neither the success of this government nor the image of a younger, fresher prime minister should be confused with any real substantive change. Palestine is being destroyed; Palestinians are stepped on by the heavy boots of a regime that, while it may seem new, is in fact as brutal, cruel and racist as any Zionist government ever was.

Hunger strikes

In a heroic act of self sacrifice, Kayed al-Fasfous, a 32-year-old from the village of Dura near Hebron, has abstained from food for close to 115 days. Miqdad al-Qawasmi, a 24-year-old from Hebron, has been on a hunger strike for 105 days. The list of hunger strikers goes on with Alaa al-Araj, 87 days; Hisham Abu Hawash, 78 days; Shadi Abu-Aker, 71 days; and Ayad al-Harimi, 42 days without food. Louay al-Ashqar and Ratib Hreibat have been on a hunger strike in solidarity with other prisoners for 24 and 26 days respectively.

As a point of reference, an article in Live Science magazine states:

After more than a month of fasting, or when more than 18 percent of body weight is lost, severe and permanent medical complications can occur. It can become very difficult to swallow water; hearing and vision loss can occur; breathing can become labored and organ failure can start to set in. Beyond 45 days, death is a very real risk, due to cardiovascular collapse or severe infection.

Furthermore, according to this article, “Even after a hunger strike ends, refeeding has some real risks, since the metabolic changes that occur during severe fasting can be profound.”

The book “Ten Men Dead” — by the former Guardian correspondent to Ireland, the late David Beresford (1947-2016) — is a powerful work that reveals what an enormous act of self-sacrifice it is to commit to a hunger strike. I received a copy of the book while on a visit to Belfast from a former IRA volunteer, and I must admit that the book had a profound impact on me. Having read it, one can never underestimate the pain, the suffering and the terrible effects of a protracted hunger strike.

The book illustrates the struggle of 10 Irish political prisoners against the brutality of the British authorities and the enormous violence perpetrated by the British government. It tells the story of the 10 men, and includes every detail of their lives before and during the strike. It is not an easy read by any means but it is rightfully described as “a harrowing and thought provoking read about comradeship, selflessness and courage and devotion to one’s cause and principles.”  Today, this book is relevant to the struggle of Palestinian prisoners.

It was in April of 2013 that I had the privilege of visiting Belfast and my hosts were kind enough to take me to Milltown Cemetery to visit the graves of Bobby Sands and the other IRA Volunteers who died as a result of the hunger strike. At that time in Palestine, Samer Issawi had been on what was considered the longest hunger strike in history. As we stood by the graves I was asked to read Issawi’s ‘Hunger Speech’ to Israelis.

“The defeated will not remain defeated and the victor will not remain a victor,” Issawi wrote, addressing Israelis who consistently vote for governments that are determined to kill his people and destroy his country. His words are as relevant today as they were when he wrote them, nearly a decade ago.

At the gravesite of IRA Volunteers, Belfast.

Destruction and desecration

In order to give legitimacy to their claim to Palestine, the the State of Israel and the Zionist organizations that support it have been engaged in a campaign of destruction of any proof that Palestinian history exists. To that end, they have perpetuated the biblical myth, selling it as history, and they have been destroying priceless historical monuments and burial sites that do not suit their narrow interests.

Besides destroying cities, towns and neighborhoods that have enormous historical value, the State of Israel has also been destroying and allowing to fall into disrepair ancient Palestinian monuments and cemeteries. Muslim cemeteries have been destroyed, desecrating the hallowed grounds that hold proof of the glorious history of a people and a country.

The latest in a long series of cemeteries in Jerusalem that have been subjected to desecration by the Israeli authorities is the Martyrs’ section of the al-Yusufiyah Muslim Cemetery. A shocking video of a Palestinian mother clinging to the grave of her son, as the authorities try to pull her away so that they can destroy the cemetery, has surfaced. The mother swears she will die before she allows them to destroy her son’s grave.

The reason for the destruction around the Old City of Jerusalem is the execution of a  plan to build a biblical-themed park in an area that includes the al-Yusufiya Cemetery. Al-Yusufiya, known as the Martyrs’ Cemetery, lies adjacent to one of the historic walls of the Old City of Jerusalem and, like Ma’amila Cemetery and other historic non-Jewish sites, it needs to go so that Israel can continue with its efforts to legitimize what is inherently an illegitimate occupation.

The lack of real Palestinian representation in capitals around the world means that Palestine has all but disappeared from the public discourse. This allows Israel to continue unhindered with its atrocities towards Palestine and its people.

Protesters carry posters with pictures of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails that read “freedom for prisoners who are on hunger strike,” during a rally supporting Palestinian prisoners, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Israeli Aggressions Against Iraq: From Subversions to Normalization Attempts

September 30, 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Ali Jezzini

The Israeli occupation has attempted to destabilize Iraq since the sixties. How is the Israeli Occupation trying to infiltrate Iraqi society?

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Iraqi Society has been a target for pro-normalization Propaganda in Past years

On the 24th of the current month, a conference was held in Erbil, the capital city of the Iraqi Kurdistan region. The conference of “Peace and Reclamation,” called for the normalization of relations with the Israeli occupation under the shady slogans of peace and establishing civil society organizations.  

The conference, organized by the New York-based Center for Peace Communications (CPC), was called “an illegal gathering” by the Iraqi government. The CPC is an organization that openly calls for the normalization of relations between the Arab states and “Israel”.

For a foreign observer, the story might look like it started here, and one might think, isolating the Iraqis from their national and cultural context, that this reaction is just a mere prejudice from the Iraqis in the face of something they ignore or never have experienced. But is it the case? 

A History of Sabotage 

Despite Iraq not sharing a direct border with Occupied Palestine, the country was a target for countless Israeli aggressions during the last century. Even before the foundation of the Israeli entity in 1948, contact has been made as early as the thirties through the Jewish agency with some Kurdish groups in northern Iraq. In the forties and fifties, simple contact was transformed into real military espionage committed by Kumran Ali Bedir-Khan a Kurdish leader with close ties to “Israel”.

These espionage attempts continued throughout the sixties as well until the rebellion started in autumn 1961 in northern Iraqi regions. Eventually, a larger scale training and supply operation to the insurgents in the north was launched following Kurdish leaders from the Kurdish democratic party (KDP) meeting with Israeli officials during that year. 

Israeli attempts to destabilize the country go back to at least the sixties when the Israelis intervened with the help of the SAVAK, the former Shah of Iran intelligence Agency, to assist the militants of the KDP led by Moustafa Barazani. The insurgents agreed on this supply training Israeli operation in 1963 following their initial hesitation. There were reports about unidentified arms cache in the region, and  Mossad agents never found any difficulty accessing the northern zones in Iraq to fuel the insurgency.

In August 1965, the Israelis provided a training course code-named Marvad (carpet) for Peshmerga (the military force of Barazani at that time). Israeli-backed militias not only destabilized the region and attacked Iraqi military personnel and installations, but also civilian infrastructures. Attacking the Kirkuk oil field which produced a large portion of Iraq’s Oil at that time was one of these attacks.

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  • Mustafa Barzani accompanied by Israeli Occupation President Zalman Shazar in the Occupied Lands,1968
  • Following the Shah of Iran signing the 1975 Algier agreement with Iraq, Israelis objected to the Shah and called it a “betrayal to the Kurds.” This abandonment led to the KDP’s demise and a subsequent de-escalation of the violence in the north, although contacts with “Israel” were maintained afterward.  

    The first official acknowledgment of the Israeli occupation’s aid to the insurgency dates to September 29 1980 when Prime Minister Menachem Begin disclosed that “Israel” had supported the Kurds (KDP) “during their uprising against the Iraqis in 1965–1975.” Begin added that “Israel” had sent instructors and arms but not military units.

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    Israeli Field Hospital Helping the insurgency in Northern Iraq between 1963-1973

    In 2004, the Israeli media reported on meetings between Masud Barzani (who would become president of the KRG in 2005 ), Jalal Talabani (who would become president of Iraq in 2005 and serve in that office until 2014), and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Relations continued to flourish as the PUK became entangled with this illegal normalization according to Iraqi Legal code 111 of 1969 in its 201st article.

    Such actions reached their peak after the Iraqi president and head of the PUK Jalal Talabani, shook hands with Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, in 2008. In 2015, “Israel” reportedly imported as much as three-quarters of its oil from the Kurdistan region in Iraq, providing a vital source of funds as Kurdish Peshmerga to finance its militia.

    Normalization as a division method

    As a part of its “Peripherical alliance” strategy, the Israeli occupation tried to sow division in the societies surrounding it. It tried to ally itself with every ethnic or religious minority in the Arab world as well as surrounding states like Turkey or the Shah’s Persia. The objective of this article is not to bash Kurds as ethnicity in any way. For instance, many Kurdish factions resisted colonialism and Zionism such as the PKK who fought the Israeli occupation in 1982. Kurdish factions in general, have been a target of Israeli subversive actions, due to the complexity of the Kurdish national cause that the Israelis tried to exploit.

    For the first time, this time publically at least, the normalization efforts have been extended to wider sectors of the Iraqi society outside of the “Periphery doctrine.” These efforts have intensified with the recent normalization wave that included UAE, Bahrain, and other countries like Morocco. New faces have appeared on the scene in parallel with such normalization such as Wisam al-Hardan’s The head of the Awakening Groups and Sahar al-Tai, among having called to normalize with “Isreal” following the previously mentioned states’ model. “The UAE and Saudi Arabia are backing these efforts” according to Iraqi Popular Mobilisation forces

    Haaretz Israeli newspaper mentioned another level of normalization that is happening mainly on social media. Besides the older Facebook and Twitter page “Israel in Arabic” that was launched in 2011, another Facebook page was created in 2018 called “Isreal Speaks in Iraqi (dialect)” to target Iraqi society specifically. The article says that many operate under the cover of linking Iraqi jews to their heritage and introducing “Israel” to the Iraqis.

    The article mentions the page admin stating that the 2003 war opened up new channels of communication with Iraqis, this communication has been made easier with the signing of the normalization deals with UAE and other countries. Iraqis with second passports are being brought to Israel with the pretext of “tourism” since 2018, which the organizer claims to be independently done from her work for the occupation government as an administrator of the page. The page publically calls for normalization and launches polls to investigate the views of the general audience.

    The stumbling project

    The Iraqi government and various political parties expressed their firm rejection of the “illegal” meetings that were held by some tribal figures in the city of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region, which called for the normalization with “Israel.” Arrest warrants have been issued against the participants of the “Peace and Reclamation” conference in Erbil. One of the main speakers of the conference Wissam al-Hardan has been suspended from his post as the head of the “awakening movement”.

    In the light of these reactions, a general popular rage is engulfing Iraqi Streets while activists on social media called for all participants to be held accountable for the crimes committed according to Iraqi law. Iraqis haven’t forgotten not only the injustice of the Israeli occupation against their Palestinian and Arab brethren but the role Israelis played in insinuating and calling for both major wars launched by the US against their country in 2003. A war whose devastating effects are still evident today.

    My Visit to Lyd, Where Historical and Contemporary Zionist Oppression Meet

    August 19th, 2021

    By Miko Peled

    Source

    Palestine stretches from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean and goes right through the ancient Palestinian city of Lyd.

    LYD, PALESTINE — One of the toughest challenges facing those who fight for justice in Palestine is breaking the Zionist paradigm, which limits the name Palestine to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These two delineations of territory have no historical meaning and no geographical significance. They are no different from other parts of Palestine except that they were drawn by Zionists who, after the murderous 1948 campaign of ethnic cleansing, decided that they would not include those two areas within the boundaries of the Zionist state.

    In 1967 the State of Israel occupied these two areas, and today the West Bank exists only in people’s imagination, while the Gaza Strip operates as a prison. After the disastrous Oslo process began in 1993, and the Palestinian Authority came into being, these two areas became known to the world as the State of Palestine.

    Lyd as it was

    In July 2021, I visited the city of Lyd, where I met with Councilwoman Fida Shehada, a Palestinian member of the Lyd City Council who was kind enough to spend a day with me in her city. She gave me a tour of the town before we sat down for a lengthy and detailed interview, which will soon be posted to my Patreon page.

    “Lyd has archeological sites that show it is as old as the city of Jericho,” Shehada told me. However, the state and the municipality refrain from excavating because these sites have no value to the Zionist narrative. Lyd is perhaps most famous for being home to the Church of Saint George. The church was built over the grave of the famous Saint George of Lyd, who was buried in the city of his Palestinian mother’s birth after he was martyred in the early fourth century.

    Church of Saint George, Lyd
    Church of Saint George, Lyd, Palestine

    The world-renowned hip hop band “Dam” is also from the city of Lyd. According to their website, “Struck by the uncanny resemblance of the reality of the streets in a Tupac video to the streets in their own neighborhood in Lyd, Tamer Nafar, Suhell Nafar and Mahmood Jrere were inspired to tell their stories through hip hop.”

    1948 bloodbath

    It is becoming clear today that the city of Lyd may well have been the site of the worst massacres by Zionist militia in 1948. In a move more cynical than can be imagined, the municipality of Lyd was renamed Lod in Hebrew, and a plaza was built to commemorate the Palmach right in front of the Dahmash Mosque. The Palmach was the largest of the Zionist militias and was responsible for committing massacres in the city.

    The mosque itself was the site of a horrifying bloodbath when citizens from the city, who were fleeing the shooting, crowded into it seeking shelter from the violence. But a Zionist militia headed by Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin took no pity on those seeking refuge and massacred everyone in the mosque. More than 150 men, women and children were gunned down.

    Palmach Plaza LYD
    The Palmach Plaza in front of the Dahmash Mosque, the site of the massacre, commemorating the murderers as the memory of the victims lingers

    Those who were not gunned down at the mosque or on the streets were forced to leave the city, and an estimated 40,000 men, women and children were made to take part in what became known as “The Death March.”

    In her book “Palestinian Women, Narrative Histories and Gendered Memory,” published in 2011 by Zed Books, Dr. Fatma Kassem recorded the testimonies of Palestinian women from Lyd who survived the massacres and the forced expulsion.

    Some of the women whom Dr. Kassem interviewed had witnessed the massacre at the mosque. One recalled:

    The first days when the Jews came in, people went inside the mosques, they thought that the Jews would not kill them in the mosques. But they killed everyone who was inside.”

    Another woman remembered:

    My father and many others went inside the mosque to protect themselves. He was not fighting. He was an old man. My father and my cousin pushed them into the mosque and [the militia] shot all of them.”

    The Kaminitz Law

    In 2017, the Knesset passed legislation cracking down on “illegal” construction. The provisions of the new law were based on a report written by Deputy Attorney General for Civil Law Erez Kaminitz. According to Fida Shehada, this law has resulted in over 40,000 demolition orders for Palestinian homes in the north and central parts of the country alone — this does not include the Naqab, Jerusalem or the West Bank. The Kaminitz Law is one of many racist laws designed to keep Palestinian citizens of Israel from building homes.

    “I remember one day I saw seven homes being demolished all at the same time, at the same minute,” Shehada told me. “I wanted to understand why this was happening and how to prevent this from happening in the future.”

    This drove Shehada to study urban planning. But, she said, “then I saw that when they draw plans for the city, they only have plans for the Israeli population, not the Palestinians.” The city does not account for the growth of the Palestinian population, which makes up about 30% to 40% of the city’s population.

    Miko Peled Fida Shehada

    Miko Peled, left, meets with councilwoman Fida Shehada in the city of Lyd

    “We have 30% Palestinian population, but 40% of the school children,” Shehada said, and smiled as she saw the puzzled look on my face. Officially, on record, the Palestinians make up 30%. Still — because of another racist law, called the Citizenship Law, which limits the rights of Palestinians to wed other Palestinians — some are Palestinian women who are married to Palestinian men are deprived of citizenship.

    Their children are citizens but cannot attend public schools, “while their mothers are not allowed to study or work or leave their homes.” So, if the father dies, the mother has to leave, and if she takes the children with her back to the West Bank or Gaza, they will lose their status — which, with all its difficulties, is still better than that of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

    A new reality?

    In an effort to instill the love of settlement activity in the hearts of Israeli Jews, religious Zionist settlers have made Lyd their home. They have their own municipal budgets and luxury apartments built for them exclusively, even as Palestinians struggle to find housing in the city. During the uprising of May 2021, over 500 armed settlers from the racist, violent Regavim movement moved into the city’s municipality. They aimed to incite violence and terrorize the Palestinian population.

    When Councilwoman Shehada questioned the mayor about this, he threatened to report her to the Shabak. The Shabak is the Israeli secret police, known for targeting, detaining and torturing Palestinian political activists. She had to remind him that the Shabak does not work for the mayor’s office.

    The most surprising thing I saw or heard during my visit to Lyd was a comment by Councilwoman Shehada: “I am very optimistic,” she said with a grin. “Things are changing, we have seen more Palestinians resist and organize, and I believe that we are facing a new reality today.”

    If there is room for optimism, Shehada certainly has a big role in it. “I decided to run for mayor in the upcoming elections,” she told me. Local elections are scheduled to be held in the fall of 2021. Even if the world hasn’t come to terms with reality, Palestine stretches from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean and goes right through the ancient Palestinian city of Lyd.

    Hassan Nasrallah: Resistance Capabilities Have Grown

    Source: Al Mayadeen 7 Aug 2021

    By Al Mayadeen

    Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, in a speech on the occasion of the 2006 July War, addresses local as well as regional issues – from the southern border retaliations to military equations.

    Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said, “The most important accomplishment of the 2006 war is achieving deterrence against Israel – this is the most important strategic and historic achievement.”

    In his speech on the anniversary of the July 2006 victory, Nasrallah stated, “The victory of the July War has entered into a new stage through the heroic confrontations of the Sword of Jerusalem battle,” continuing to say, “The most prominent strategic achievement is striking a balance of deterrence and rules of engagement that protect and guarantee the security and safety of Lebanon.”

    Sayyed Nasrallah pointed out that, “For 15 years since the July War, Israeli raids haven’t hit a target in Lebanese territory – Lebanon has enjoyed an unprecedented-since-1948 security and tranquility,” adding that “what prevents the Israeli enemy from launching raids is its fear of a major confrontation with the resistance.” 

    He stressed, “What prevents this vicious and murderous enemy, which is protected by the United States and Arab countries, from attacking Lebanon? They fear a war on their army, which collapsed in 2006, a war on their infrastructure – they’re afraid for their existence.”  

    The Secretary-General of Hezbollah said, “Before 2006 and beyond, the primary issue of the Israeli enemy was the weapons of the resistance,” pointing out that “some groups in Lebanon help whether they realize it or not, to achieve the goal of disarmament of the resistance.”

    Furthermore, Nasrallah also spoke about the recent aggression against Lebanese territory, explaining that “What happened a few days back was a dangerous development that has not happened since 15 years.” He said that “Some matters require an immediate response… if retaliation is delayed, it loses its value.”

    The Secretary-General of Hezbollah, addressing the back-and-forth which happened two days ago, said, “Our actions were intentional; they targeted an open area, we targeted an open area. This was to reinforce the old equation of deterrence, and not create a new one.” He explains that the capabilities of the resistance have increased through its wide possession of precision missiles, which Hezbollah owns now in large numbers.

    He added, “We purposely responded to the Israeli rockets during the day out of respect for people’s emotions so that they don’t feel fear and terror during the night,” noting that Hezbollah has the courage to take responsibility for their actions in all formality – that includes issuing a statement along with the bombardment to send a message to the enemy.

    Sayyed Nasrallah said, “An old equation was reinforced: they bomb an open area, we bomb an open area,” continuing, “Any strike on Lebanon will be responded to in a proportionate manner.” 

    He stressed that “we will not neglect the achievements of the resistance in the July war, regardless of the dangers, because that will create safegrounds for the enemy to harass Lebanon,” stressing that “whatever the internal situation in Lebanon is, for us, protecting our country and our people is our first responsibility.”

    “What happened yesterday is a response to the airstrikes only and has nothing to do with the response to the assassination of the two dear martyrs, Muhammad Qassem Tahan and Ali Kamel Mohsen,” he reassured.

    Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem affirmed yesterday to Al-Mayadeen that “The Israeli occupation must understand that Lebanon is not an open arena for settling accounts in it,” stressing that “Israel must remain deterred.”

    On Wednesday evening, the Israeli Air Force attacked targets in southern Lebanon, according to the Israeli media, “in response to the launching of 4 missiles from Lebanon” towards “Israel.”

    The Lebanese resistance responded Friday by bombing the occupied lands in Shebaa. Yesterday, Israeli media reported that 20 rockets were launched, indicating that “the recreation centers in the north remained relatively empty after the rockets were launched from Lebanon.”

    The People of the Resistance Are Those of Patience, Endurance

    Hezbollah Secretary-General touched on the conflict that took place Friday in the Lebanese village Shwaya, saying that posting the incident was a “disgrace,” for he was touched by the scenes he saw, sympathizing with others who saw it. “When I saw what happened in Shwaya I wished I was able to get to the young men so I could kiss their foreheads and hands,” he added.

    Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that the people of the resistance are those of patience and endurance, adding that they will always be in the position to sacrifice themselves and remain steadfast.

    “The rockets in the launcher are evident of the resistance fighters’ discipline, for the order was to launch 20 rockets,” he noted.

    “Our fighters were ordered to launch only 20 rockets on targets in Shebaa Farms. The rocket launcher has the capacity of 31 rockets. I could see the 11 remaining rockets still in the launcher,” he continued.

    The Secretary-General addressed the people of Shwaya and Hasbaiyya, telling them that if Hezbollah were able to attack the targeted sites from Shiite areas, they would have. He said they were militarily obligated to launch the rockets from the areas from which they were launched.

    Nasrallah called on everyone not to hold the people of Shwaya and the Druze sect responsible for the assault on the resistance fighters. “It was not the people of Shwaya who attacked the fighters, and we appreciate everyone who stands by the resistance,” he added.

    Sayyed Hassan indicated that those who carried out the attack against “Israel” were highly disciplined and wise, stating that those who assaulted them must be held accountable and brought to justice.

    Beirut Blast Anniversary

    Regarding the Beirut Blast, whose anniversary was commemorated Wednesday, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said, “Since the first day, political investment started by several media outlets upon orders by the US and Saudi Arabia.”

    “All parties who probed the blast reached a conclusion that there were no arms in the port,” he added, continuing to say, “When this scenario failed, they resorted to propagating the ammonium nitrate scenario.”

    “Is there anything more ridiculous and worse than accusing Hezbollah of storing ammonium nitrate in the Beirut Port?” Wondered Sayyed Hassan, stressing that everything said since the blast is illogical and has no goal other than distorting the truth.

    Nasrallah said if Hezbollah wanted to politically utilize the blast, they would have said the parties supporting the armed groups in Syria were the ones who brought the ammonium nitrate to Lebanon.

    He indicated that those who spread fake news to mislead the investigation and public opinion insulted the blast’s martyrs, saying they turned a national and humanitarian cause into a political and sectarian one.

    “Hezbollah fears no investigation, for it is not facing accusations from the judicial authorities,” Nasrallah added, saying what Hezbollah truly fears is the loss of truth, that is why the judiciary must announce its findings.

    Secretary-General Nasrallah said, “What we are asking for is the announcement of the investigation’s findings.” He sees that the probe into the Beirut Blast is politicized and subject to discretion.

    Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addressed the families of those martyred and injured in the Beirut Blast by saying, “Do not allow the politicization of your children’s blood.”

    Confrontations erupted Wednesday near Parliament in Beirut, Lebanon, between Lebanese demonstrators and the security services in light of the protests commemorating the Beirut blast on its first anniversary.

    Khalde Incident Was a Massacre

    Nasrallah touched on the crime that took place Sunday in Khalde, during which two Lebanese civilians were assaulted and murdered. He said, “What happened in Khalde was not an accident, it was a massacre perpetrated by a gang of criminals and murderers.

    He stressed the need for arresting all those involved in the Khalde massacre as soon as possible and bringing them to justice.

    “We need a definitive solution for the issue of assaulting people and blocking the highway leading to the south,” he said, adding that those insisting on assaulting civilians and threatening civil peace must be arrested.

    “Our issue is not with the Khalde Arabs nor the Arab Tribes, but rather with the murderous criminal group,” Nasrallah asserted.

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    Media Paints Israel as “Victim” as Hezbollah Responds to Fresh Israeli Airstrikes

    August 06th, 2021

    By Robert Inkalesh

    Source

    The rocket fire reportedly shocked the Israeli military establishment and sparked further aggression against targets in Lebanon’s south; and, in defiance of all evidence, Western mainstream media quickly took to painting Israel as the victim.

    GOLAN HEIGHTS — Sirens blared in the upper Galilee and Golan Heights, as rockets rained down on Israeli-held territory in the disputed Shebaa Farms area this morning. There were no immediate reports of casualties, but a state of fear did seem to emerge in the largest escalation between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah in 15 years.

    Lebanese Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for the firing of the 19 rockets into northern Israel in response to a series of Israeli air and artillery strikes carried out earlier this week on southern Lebanon. The rocket fire reportedly shocked the Israeli military establishment and sparked further aggression against targets in Lebanon’s south; and, in defiance of all evidence, Western mainstream media quickly took to painting Israel as the victim.

    This morning’s rocket fire, specifically targeting open areas, was the first of its kind conducted by Hezbollah since the conclusion of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, which ended with the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. Lebanon’s prime minister-designate, Najib Mikati, confirmed following today’s incident that he stands firmly for the continued implementation of the ceasefire resolution, while the nation’s caretaker prime minister, Hassan Diab, had days ago complained to the UN about Israel having violated it.

    Hezbollah announced that its retaliatory rocket fire had specifically targeted open areas in the towns of Al-Jarmaq and Al-Shawakir in northern Israel as a clear message to Israel triggered by its aggression against Lebanese territory in the previous days. Following the attack, Israel again carried out attacks on Lebanese territory and it was reported that bomb shelters were open in Israel’s Kiryat Shmona, in anticipation of further retaliation from Lebanon.

    Lebanon Israel
    A Lebanese soldier displays part of an Israeli missile from an airstrike on a farm in southern Lebanon, Aug 5, 2021. Mohammed Zaatari | AP

    Although promising a response to Hezbollah, both “overt and covert”, the Israeli military has indicated that it is not seeking a war with Lebanon over rockets falling in open areas. UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force based in southern Lebanon, claimed that the rocket fire had come from areas outside of its jurisdiction, urging calm on both sides and warning of a “very dangerous situation”.

    Speaking to “al-Mayadeen TV,” the deputy secretary general of Hezbollah, Sheikh Naim Qasem, clarified that “with regard to the events that took place today in Lebanon, Israel attacked yesterday and bombed an area in Lebanon, and Hezbollah has publicly committed that an attack on Lebanon means that it will be met with an appropriate response,” also stressing to Israel that it “must understand that Lebanon is not an open arena for settling its accounts in, and not a place to test its capabilities.”

    A familiar media bias

    The focus of Western mainstream media has been heavily centered on Hezbollah’s rocket fire into Israel, with some outlets claiming that Israel had retaliated against Hezbollah and not the other way around. Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty, sometimes numbering into the thousands each month, have been largely ignored by the international community and Western press.

    There has also been little action taken by the international community against Israel for its frequent use of Lebanese airspace to launch unprovoked attacks on Syria, the latest of which took place just two weeks ago. Hours following Israeli airstrikes carried out on Aleppo, Syria on July 20, rocket fire from Southern Lebanon triggered sirens in Israel’s north, which was followed by a series of strikes against Lebanese territory.

    The rockets, which landed in open areas, were said to have been fired by Palestinian armed groups responding to Israeli attacks on worshippers in Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Unnamed armed Palestinian groups were also blamed for firing rockets into Israel from Lebanon during Israel’s 11-day assault against the Gaza Strip back in May.

    When the recent round of tensions escalated this Wednesday, Palestinians were also said to have been behind the seemingly random rocket fire into Israel’s Kiryat Shmona. Besides triggering an immediate response from Israel, the rocket fire also served as a justification for days of Israeli attacks on Lebanese territory, which Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said showed “aggressive intent” from Israel.

    The secretary general of Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, has vowed that the group would respond to Israel for the killing of Ali Kamel Mohsen and Muhammad Qassem Tahan. Mohsen was killed by an Israeli airstrike on the Damascus International Airport in Syria last year, while Tahan was shot dead at a border protest in May. According to Nasrallah, each member of Hezbollah or Lebanese citizen that Israel kills will be avenged with an equal retaliation upon the enemy, Israel.

    Recent events indicate that the Lebanon-Israel conflict has entered a new phase of escalation, with growing fears of an all out war between the two sides.

    Israeli Ethnic Cleansing: A Crime Against Humanity

    July 18, 2021

    By Stephen Lendman

    Source

    Revanchist Israeli regimes expand the territory of the world’s only borderless state on a platform of state-sponsored ethnic cleansing indigenous people from their homes, possessions and land — to make way for exclusive Jewish developme

    nt and use.

    Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories are targeted for removal by brute force on land Jewish state extremists want for themselves.

    B’Tselem earlier explained what long-suffering Palestinians endured throughout Jewish state history, saying:

    “For decades, Israeli authorities…implementing a policy aimed at driving out scores of communities, that are home to thousands of Palestinians.” 

    “They have made living conditions miserable and intolerable with a view to establishing facts on the ground and taking over these areas.”

    Longstanding Israeli policy seeks “Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea” — what the scourge of apartheid is all about, state-sponsored tyranny by another name.

    Over 14 million people live in the above area, half of them Palestinians denied their fundamental rights as affirmed by international human rights law.

    Hundreds of thousands of settlers live on stolen Palestinian land, illegally annexed for their use.

    Israeli regimes pursue their aims by state terror and other illegal means.

    Creation of Israel was a case study in ethnic cleansing on a horrific scale, transforming historic Palestine into an apartheid Jewish state.

    The lives and welfare of its indigenous inhabitants were irreparably disrupted, a massive refugee population created internally and abroad in neighboring states – one of history’s great crimes without punishment.

    On Palestinian land Israeli regimes want for Jews only, unwanted indigenous families are uprooted, their homes demolished, followed by forcefully removing them from their land.

    Time and again, Israeli courts uphold the illegal practice, including its highest, in pursuing a policy of maximum Jews and minimum Arabs on all valued land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea.

    Dominant Zionist extremists believe for Israel to survive, it must dominate the region and become a world power.

    Achieving its imperial aims requires dividing Arab nations into small, easily controlled states – partitioning them along ethnic and sectarian lines as weakened Israeli satellites. 

    Internally, Israel is hellbent on territorial expansion by stealing it from indigenous Palestinians and neighboring states in defiance of international law.

    Palestinians seeking redress through Israeli and international courts fail because Jewish tribunals and the world community have done nothing to hold the Jewish state accountable for its highest of high crimes.

    It’s been this way throughout Jewish state history since 1948 — nearly three quarters of a century of injustice, notably backed by the US-dominated West.

    One among countless examples of Israeli ethnic cleansing occurred last week, explained by B’Tselem, saying:

    On July 7, “Israeli military and Civil Administration personnel arrived at the tent-dwelling community of Khirbet Humsah in the Jordan Valley” with sweeping ethnic cleansing in mind.

    They forcefully “dismantled and confiscated tents housing numerous community members along with everything inside them, loading them onto trucks…”

    Dispossessed Palestinians were forced into buses “in sweltering heat.”

    Refusniks in defense of their land and possessions were expelled by by brute force.

    “Initial reports indicate the forces demolished the homes of at least nine families, leaving 60 people homeless.” 

    “Soldiers and Civil Administration staff continue to load the contents of the homes onto military trucks” as of late last week. 

    “B’Tselem is still collecting exact information about the property that was confiscated and destroyed.”

    What happened repeats time and again throughout the Occupied Territories — a crime against humanity under international law.

    Responsibility for ethnic cleansing like the above lies with Israeli ruling regimes, its military and other security enforcers, along with Jewish state High Court “justices…who lend legal legitimacy” to what flagrantly breaches core international law, B’Tselem explained, adding:

    What repeats time and again throughout the Occupied Territories is “a badge of shame for the international community…” 

    Instead of upholding the rule of law, the world community and world body leadership “absolved (themselves) of the obligation to demand Israel respect the human rights of Palestinians living under its control and allowed (themselves) to be satisfied with empty rebukes lacking any practical consequences.”

    The Fight to Save Lifta, the Last Remaining Palestinian Village

    July 09th, 2021

    By Jessica Buxbaum

    Source

    See the source image
    Lifta, the only town Israel did not demolish after the Nakba, stands as a symbol of the Palestinian right of return, but an Israeli government “development” plan may soon change that.

    LIFTA, JERUSALEM — Yacoub Odeh is 81 years old but he can still remember his childhood in the Palestinian village of Lifta as if it were yesterday. Children playing together in the gardens, swimming in the pools and laying in the grass.

    Today, Lifta remains as a frozen time capsule. While the residents were expelled during Israel’s 1948 ethnic cleansing campaign (Nakba), the ruins of their homes still stand. These ruins carved into the lush hillside are perceived as a symbol of the Palestinians’ right of return. This is the only town Israel did not demolish after the Nakba, but a government plan may soon change that.

    In May, the Israel Lands Authority (ILA), the government agency in charge of managing public lands, issued a new tender for construction in Lifta. The development scheme, known as Plan 6036, seeks to build 259 housing units along with a commercial and business space and a luxury hotel on top of and around the existing houses. Daphna Golan-Agnon, a law professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and part of the Save Lifta Coalition’s board, explained that while the homes may not be demolished, “the village will disappear behind walls of concrete needed to hold new construction.”

    The bid was supposed to be held on July 4, but significant public opposition delayed it to July 29.

    Lifta Jerusalem
    The ruins in Lifta, a Palestinian village ethnically cleased in 1948. Liebe Blekh | MintPress News

    Attempts to demolish Lifta have been ongoing for years. The ILA first published a tender for Plan 6036 in 2010 after the Israeli state approved the construction plan for Lifta in 2006. A 2012 Jerusalem District Court ruling found Plan 6036 insufficient and requested amending it in accordance with a conservation survey on Lifta from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

    The IAA survey was completed in 2017 and found that Plan 6036 could not be executed without making significant adjustments in order to preserve the ancient village. Plan 270b was drawn up to fit the survey’s findings but in 2017 the Local Planning and Building Committee of Jerusalem temporarily halted the initiative for further examination.

    The recent ILA announcement was met with hundreds of letters to Jerusalem’s mayor rejecting the sale. When reached for comment, the Municipality of Jerusalem told MintPress News that it “wasn’t informed about the publication of this tender and didn’t approve it. The mayor of Jerusalem asked all the relevant authorities to reconsider the construction plan.” The Israel Lands Council, which operates the ILA, did not respond to a request for comment.

    ‘In one hour, we became refugees’

    Lifta’s strategic location at the edge of Jerusalem has made it a prime target for land grabs. Acting as a suburb of Jerusalem, Lifta’s placement next to the Jerusalem-Jaffa Highway makes for an easy trip to the Mediterranean while still being tied to the city of Jerusalem.

    Lifta, often referred to as the entrance to Jerusalem, was a wealthy, agricultural community supported by olive presses and flour mills and situated atop the Wadi al-Shami spring. Homes made of limestone were cut into the hillside and Lifta’s roads wended through the valley.

    Prior to the 1948 Nakba, Zionist militias like the Haganah saw seizing Lifta as necessary to cement Jewish control over all of Palestine. According to the Haganah Historical Archives, “[s]ecuring the western exit of the city [of Jerusalem] entailed the eviction of Arabs.”  Israeli historian Benny Morris said the Haganah fired the first shots in 1947, setting off the mass expulsion of Lifta’s 2,960 residents.

    In December 1947, the Haganah killed a Palestinian business owner in Lifta. Later that month, one of Lifta’s two coffeehouses was ambushed with gunfire and grenades. The attack killed six and wounded seven. Two months into 1948, the Jewish Agency chairman and future first prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, boasted of the ethnic cleansing’s success, telling his political party members: “From your entry into Jerusalem through Lifta — Romema, through Mahane Yehuda, King George Street and Mea She’arim — there are no strangers. One hundred percent Jews.“

    Odeh, head of the Lifta Cultural Heritage Protection Commission, was 8-years-old when Lifta came under siege by Zionist forces.

    Lifta refugee
    Yacoub Odeh, Nakba survivor and head of the Lifta Cultural Heritage Protection Commission. Liebe Blekh | MintPress News

    “I remember one day my mother was preparing the fire to heat our room, and then [the Zionist miltiias] began to shoot. My brothers began to cry, ‘Mama, mama! They’re shooting us!’ My mom took us inside the room in the corner and under a table to protect us,” Odeh said, recalling two stories of Lifta — the town’s beauty and charm and then its tragic fall.

    “There is the beautiful life and then began the miserable life because of the occupation.”

    Toward the end of February 1948, Odeh’s father put him, his siblings and his mother into a truck heading to Ramallah to escape the violence in Lifta. Odeh’s father stayed behind to defend the village from the Zionist gangs.

    “We were only wearing the clothing we had on because we are coming back tomorrow. We are coming back. Now we just want to be far from the shooting.” Odeh took a deep sigh and said, “In one hour, we became refugees.”

    Today, 55 buildings out of approximately 450 remain in Lifta, including a club, mosque, cemetery and school, which now operates as a school for Israeli Jews. Liftawi refugees are estimated at around 30,000 and live in Jerusalem, the Occupied West Bank and the Diaspora. Most of the homes are empty, but a few are occupied by Israeli settlers. According to Zochrot, the Israeli nonprofit seeking to raise awareness of the Nakba, the “settlements of Mey Niftoach and Giv’at Sha’ul were built on village lands and now have become parts of the suburbs of Jerusalem.”

    Saving Lifta

    The Save Lifta Coalition orchestrated the campaign to the mayor and has been organizing since 2010 against Plan 6036. The organization spent five years working with scholars, activists, conservation specialists and higher education professionals to develop an alternative to 6036.

    Their proposal aims to “expand the area of the national park and turn the village into a natural urban space for the adjacent neighborhoods,” while preserving Lifta’s cultural landscape.

    The World Monuments Fund added Lifta to its list of endangered sites in 2018 and UNESCO added the village to its tentative list of world heritage sites.

    ‘Not something we can discuss now’

    When asked about the plan’s responsibility regarding the right of return for Palestinians, Golan-Agnon said, “our plan is a plan to save Lifta as it is for the future generations to decide upon its fate.” She explained:

    Many of us [in the coalition] do think there should be a right of return for Palestinians but we know it’s not something we can discuss now. So we say, it’s beautiful, keep it open, and then one day there can be a decision about what happens and who’s coming.

    Dana Amawi’s grandmother grew up in Lifta and was expelled from the village in 1948. Now the family lives in Amman, Jordan. The 20-year-old said she was shaken to her core upon hearing the news of the sale. “Lifta symbolized a tiny, very small bit of hope that maybe we will be able to return to it,” Amawi told MintPress. “And now to think that other people might live in the house that I have the right to be in, it’s very sad.”

    Lifta Jerusalem
    A Palestinian woman holds a partially eaten fig picked from a tree in Lifta. Liebe Blekh | MintPress News

    Amawi said that her grandmother fell ill after learning of the auction. “She got sick. She had a fever and she was really, really sad because to her, this is where she grew up. This is where her earliest memories are and this is where she has the right to be,” Amawi said.

    Stone houses like the one Odeh spent his early childhood in now crumble from neglect. The walls are sprayed with graffiti and piles of trash line the floors. On Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath), you’ll often find Israelis bathing in the spring’s waters.

    Aseel AlBajeh, advocacy officer and legal researcher at the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, visited Lifta in 2018. Her grandmother, who lives in Ramallah, is from Lifta. “It was a painful experience,” AlBajeh said of her time in Lifta. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back to Lifta in this situation.”

    ‘You are here as a visitor’

    During her visit, AlBajeh tried recalling her grandmother’s memories of a flourishing Lifta, but she said those stories were disrupted by the fact that she’s only in Lifta because of a permit she received from the Israeli government to enter 1948-occupied Palestine or modern-day Israel from the West Bank. “You are here as a visitor. It’s like it’s not a place where you belong, or this is what [the Israeli government] intends for refugees to feel like,” AlBajeh said. “Settlers were swimming in the spring of the village and they were blasting loud music, and it also disrupted my ability to even imagine Lifta as Palestinian.”

    Jewish settlers in LIfta
    Israeli settlers in Lifta hold a middle finger to a group of Palestinian children. Blekh | MintPress News

    To help her reclaim Lifta, AlBajeh took a small piece of the village’s remains during her visit. She collected a broken tile painted with traditional designs from one of the house’s floors, knowing this might be the last physical object she can have of Lifta.

    “Lifta is a witness of what happened during the Nakba,” AlBajeh said, explaining:

    We have this connection as Palestinians, and when we see the cactus plants, we connect this as evidence that displacement happened here. And if you go to Lifta, you’ll see the huge amount of cactus. So even if the houses remain and [Israel] tries to remove the cactus, it’s still painful… It’s not about the stones or about the trees. It’s about the whole identity of Lifta and the Palestinian history, which we still connect to. “

    ‘We were kings in our village’

    Odeh’s memories paint Lifta as an idyllic place, an oasis carved into the steep slopes of Jerusalem where life was carefree and bountiful. “We were kings in our village,” Odeh said. “Everything we need, we had — a life so simple. We didn’t need cinema or computers, no, everything we needed came from our land.”

    But the minute Odeh and his family became refugees, their resources became scarce. “At that time there were no charitable associations or agencies ready to help,” Odeh recalled. “You know what Nakba means? Nakba does not mean to destroy homes. No, Nakba means to destroy the life — economic life, social life, educational life, political life. They destroyed our life.”

    Upon reminiscing about Lifta, Odeh said his dream is to go back home:

    I miss my childhood. Palestinian children have lost their childhood life to play like children, to go to the theater, to concerts, to football. No, until now we have house demolitions, we have arrests, we have land confiscation and killings. Every day we have events like these — if not my family, my neighborhood.”

    Palestanian Protesters Recount Harrowing Details of Torture at the Hands of Israeli Police

    By Jessica Buxbaum

    Source

    Officers wounded the detainees, terrorized them, and whomever dared to lift his head upwards risked more beatings by officers. According to affidavits, the floor of the room was covered in blood from the beatings.

    NAZARETH, ISRAEL — In May, the world watched Israel’s brutal occupation on full display: The forcible displacement of Sheikh Jarrah residents was underway; Israeli security forces attacked Muslim worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan; Israeli rocket fire rained down on Gaza; and Jewish extremists chanted “Death to Arabs!” in the streets.

    According to multiple testimonies, Israeli police in Nazareth ran a “torture room” where they ruthlessly attacked Palestinian detainees during the wave of demonstrations against Israel in May.

    Now, as international headlines fade on Palestine, Israeli violence continues.

    ‘The floor of the room was covered in blood’

    Faiz Zbedeiat was talking on the phone about 20 feet away from a protest in Nazareth. The moment the 21-year-old student hung up the phone, Israeli police threw a stun grenade into the street. An officer then charged at him and punched him in the nose. Zbedeiat was soon encircled by police who grabbed him, hit him, and pushed him toward a Border Police officer who tried to slam his head against a wall.

    “I asked why they were hitting me when I’m not resisting,” Zbedeiat said. “I put my hands behind my back even though they didn’t handcuff me. Nevertheless, the same Border Police officer hit me in the nose with the walkie-talkie that he was holding.”

    The officers dragged Zbedeiat by his head to the police station, beating him along the way.

    “On the way, we met a policeman who appeared to be an officer, and he started laughing and said to them: ‘Did you only arrest him? That’s not enough. We need more,’” Zbedeiat said.

    The beating continued inside the police station. Cops kicked, slapped, and hit detainees with batons, laughing as they struck them.

    Zbedeiat detailed how one officer smacked detainees with an M-16 rifle. He watched as one man with a broken nose — face covered in blood — was continuously hit by officers. Then Zbedeiat described his own treatment:

    A police officer approached me and whispered in my ear, threatening me. He cursed my mother, my sister, and my wife. He then asked, ‘Did you understand?’ I didn’t answer, and he immediately slapped me in the face. He asked me again: ‘Do you understand?’ I still didn’t answer and he slapped me again in the face. Finally, he said ‘Go explain to your friends.’ He pushed me back down to the floor and hit me again.”

    Israeli police torture
    A Palestinian child is taken into an “observation post” after his arrest at a protest in Jerusalem, June 10, 2021. Maya Alleruzzo | AP

    Zbedeiat’s violent detention in May is one of many such, according to Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. The advocacy group collected multiple sworn affidavits attesting to the abuse of Palestinian protesters by Israeli officers, attorneys, bystanders, and children inside Nazareth’s police station from May 9 to May 14. The majority of the violent arrests and most of the abuse were conducted by Israeli special forces, including undercover Mista’aravim (counter-terror units within the Israeli Army, Border Police, and Israel Police) officers pretending to be Palestinians.

    Adalah submitted a complaint to Israel’s Attorney General and the chairman of the Police Investigation Department on June 7. In their letter, Adalah wrote:

    Police officers led the detainees to a room located on the left side of the entrance corridor to the station, forcing them to sit on the floor handcuffed, to lower their heads towards the floor, and began to beat them on all parts of their bodies, using kicks and clubs, slamming their heads against walls or doors, and more. Officers wounded the detainees, terrorized them, and whomever dared to lift his head upwards risked more beatings by officers. According to affidavits, the floor of the room was covered in blood from the beatings.

    Police violence amounting to torture

    Under Israeli law, authorities must respond to the letter within 45 days. But Adalah attorney and co-author of the complaint, Wesam Sharaf, told MintPress that Adalah has not received a response from the Attorney General or Police Investigation Department. Adalah did receive a response from Nazareth’s Chief of Police, stating that he will cooperate if there’s an investigation and will take the appropriate disciplinary actions.

    “What happened inside the police station in Nazareth amounts to torture and ill-treatment, and requires the immediate opening of a criminal investigation to examine the circumstances and conditions of the protesters’ detention at the station – including the investigation and prosecution of police officers involved in the violence,” Adalah attorneys wrote in their complaint.

    Sharaf explained that the witness and victim accounts of police brutality inside the Israeli police station describe activity deemed torturous under international law:

    What we have seen in the police station is that instead of investigating the people, the police would beat them up. [The police] deny [the detainees] in need of medical attention that medical attention and make them sign [false] affidavits as a condition to get medical attention… When this treatment is [directed at] detainees, it may amount to torture according to international law.”

    Torture is defined under international law as intentionally inflicting severe pain or suffering in order to obtain a confession or information, intimidate or coerce the individual, or as punishment for alleged offenses. Torture is illegal and considered a war crime.

    The Police Investigation Department, Nazareth police station, Israel Police, and commander of the Northern District of the Israel Police did not respond to MintPress News’ requests for comment by the time of deadline.

    Israel’s mass-arrest campaign targeting Palestinians

    In a move largely seen as squelching Palestinian dissent, Israel Police launched a mass-arrest campaign in May, targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel who participated in protests against ethnic cleansing in Sheikh Jarrah, attacks at Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel’s assault on Gaza.

    Israeli police arrested 2,142 individuals and filed 184 indictments during “Operation Guardian of the Walls” and “Operation Law and Order.” According to Sharaf, more than 150 Palestinians were arrested in Nazareth in May, and about one in ten were indicted.

    Ashraf Mahroum, an attorney representing nine people detained by police in Nazareth, said his clients and others were charged for protesting illegally, creating illegal organizations, and assaulting police officers. Maroum’s clients allege police fired rubber bullets at the upper parts of their bodies during the protests — a direct violation of the low governing use of rubber bullets. During their detention, officers struck them with batons and smacked them over the head with guns. Most of his clients’ injuries were on the head and face. Some were forced to sign affidavits stating they won’t disclose what happened to them in order to receive medical treatment.

    Evidence of similar police violence against Palestinians appeared in other cities across 1948-occupied Palestine (modern-day Israel) including in Lydd, Akka, Yaffa and Haifa, Sharaf said, adding detainees in these localities arrived in court with visible signs of abuse. Sharaf concluded:

    [Adalah] has other testimonies about police brutality in different areas; some of this brutality was against protesters and some of it has been inside police stations against detainees. With the systematic ill treatment that we have witnessed from the 9th of May to the 14th of May, we can assume that more people have been subject to such kind of treatment.”

    Israel’s expanding history of torture

    The Israel Security Agency (ISA) has long used torture as a standard tactic during interrogations of Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories. Until the late 1990s, the ISA was allowed to use “psychological pressure” and a “moderate degree of physical pressure” in order to “prevent terrorism,” according to 1987 recommendations from a state commission. The commission’s opinion permitted the ISA to use methods of torture in their interrogations under the “necessity defense” clause found in Israeli penal law.

    The Israeli Supreme Court banned the use of physical methods during interrogations in 1999 after a series of petitions were filed by human rights organizations and Palestinians who experienced ISA interrogations. However, the court ruled the practice of physical pressure could remain in urgent cases as part of the “ticking bomb” exception under the necessity defense. This legal loophole has allowed torture and ill treatment to persist in ISA interrogations, despite the Israeli Justice Ministry having drafted a law to criminalize torture.

    Israel torture
    An illustration from a 1991 B’Teslem report detailing torture methods used by Israeli forces

    According to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), 1,300 complaints regarding the use of torture against Palestinian citizens in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) by the ISA have been submitted to the Ministry of Justice since 2001. These complaints resulted in only one criminal investigation and no indictments.

    PCATI receives dozens of complaints each year attesting to brutality occurring during arrest, detention, interrogation and imprisonment of Palestinians from the OPT. The nonprofit organization estimates 5% to 10% of these cases amount to instances of severe torture.

    Severe interrogations increased sharply in 2020. “In the passing year, more people were tortured in Israel than in any other year in the past decade,” PCATI said in their 2020 situation report on torture of Palestinians by Israeli security forces. While cases of torture are prevalent within the OPT, Tal Steiner, Director General of PCATI, said 1948-occupied Palestine is now experiencing an escalation of torture incidents. Steiner told MintPress:

    [PCATI] has seen attributes that are usually found in the West Bank trickling into Israel. There’s administrative arrest, prevention of rights to seek counsel, to receive medical attention — those are things that are quite unfortunately common in the West Bank and the Occupied Territories that have now become more evident within Israel proper… This is not something that’s usual or routine within Israel for Israeli citizens — Palestinian or not. So it’s a turn for the worse.”

    Israel torture
    An illustration from a 1991 B’Teslem report detailing torture methods used by Israeli forces

    Steiner attributed this surge within Historic Palestine to a culture of impunity spurred by Israeli politicians like former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, explaining:

    When the police and military forces entered the mixed cities within Israel to so-call restore the peace, then-Prime Minister Netanyahu was quoted saying, ‘Go ahead and do your job and don’t worry about any commission of inquiry.’ These types of announcements by the prime minister and other Israeli leaders can also be a reason why police officers thought they could get away with it. They can use extreme force toward citizens, demonstrators, and especially toward people from minority groups, and go unpunished.”

    “I thought I was going to die”

    On May 13, the eve of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, Nazareth resident Omaiyer Lawabne was out with friends to celebrate. As he approached an ATM to withdraw money, he saw an officer decked in full riot gear running toward him. Instinctively, he began running away.

    “The cops started throwing grenades at me, and I kept running because I knew that if I stood still I could be badly wounded by the grenades,” Lawabne said. “While I was still running, one of the policemen raised his hand and hit me in the left eye, and I fell to the ground.”

    Police surrounded Lawabne on the pavement, kicking him in the face and head. One officer pressed his boot into Lawabne’s head and shoulder. “I felt intense pain all over my body, from my head to my legs. One of them started kicking me in the artery behind the ear,” Lawabne said. “At that moment, I thought I was going to die.”

    t the police station, Lawabne saw detainees stuffed into a room, resembling “prisoners of war.” They sat on the floor with their legs folded under them and heads bent. A masked officer paced around the room with a club-like object in his hand. Any detainee who lifted his head met the full swing of the officer’s bat on their head.

    “They pushed me down into a corner and I lowered my head and curled up. Nevertheless, the same police officer hit me hard on the head with that object,” Lawabne said.

    Days after his detention, Lawabne still felt excruciating pain throughout his body. He couldn’t sleep from the dizziness. He couldn’t eat without vomiting. He couldn’t speak coherently. He still doesn’t understand why he was arrested when he wasn’t participating in any nearby protests.

    “It was the first time I had been arrested, an arrest that I believe was illegal, pointless, and very violent,” Lawabne said.

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