Jaafari on Golan: Trump Tweet Flagrant Violation, Contempt for International Law

Bashar Jaafari Syria UN Representative Ambassador - UNSC بشار الجعفري مندوب سوريا الدائم لدى الأمم المتحدة - سفير

His Excellency Bashar al Jaafari issued an urgent statement on Syria’s Golan, via a UN stake out, 22 March 2019. While maintaining his immaculate standard of professional diplomat, the Syrian ambassador crushed US President Donald J. Trump’s “irresponsible tweeting.” He laid waste to the escalation of “American arrogance,” and explained the many UN Security Council Resolutions which support Syria’s sovereignty over its Golan, resolutions which call for the end of illegal Israeli occupation.

Golan
Though there were a substantial number of reporters present, at this writing, AFP is the lone MSM service to write an anemic short, ignoring all key points on Trump’s criminal plot to authorize the theft of Syria’s Golan.

Dr. Jaafari explained to his audience there is no “Golan heights,” there is only the Syrian Golan. The word “heights” was affixed by Israeli propagandists as part of its psychological warfare campaign to make its illegal occupation appear more powerful.

Syria’s ambassador read a five-minute statement in Arabic, followed by its English translation, after which he took questions from the reporters.

One reporter said that Syria’s official request for the UNSG to publicly condemn Trump’s aggression was met by a generic response that the SG stands by all resolutions, but is not ready to condemn the US president’s tweet.

Golan
Syria officially called on the UN to put an end to “American arrogance” of Trump’s mafioso-type plan to give that which is not his, but Syria’s, Golan, to its illegal Israeli occupiers.

Here, the author interjects to again remind our readers of the corruption and bias of Antonio Guterres — Guterres, the friend of war criminal Tony Blair, Guterres whose own imperialist arrogance contains putting lies in writing. Consider his claim that the OPCW “fact-finding mission” was “in the Syrian Arab Republic,” despite OPCW’s admission it was too afraid of terrorists to actually send in investigators.

Diplomat Jaafari meticulously explained that Trump’s imperious tweet — “diplomacy now about tweeting, apparently” — was contemptuous of the international community, showed “flagrant violation of international law, the charter of the UN and the simplest…values and ethics,” and demonstrated escalation against member states of the United Nations: It’s “my way or the highway.”

Golan
You can’t declare war with everybody [though that is basically what Trump did when he spoke at UNGA in September]. The 100th year anniversary of the League of Nations is approaching, & Trump is trying to move international law to pre-1918.

Before taking questions, the Syrian diplomat asked everyone to focus exclusively on the Golan. He told them that there would be another “humanitarian meeting” on the 27th, at which time they could ask all questions. His request to “Please let us focus on this important issue” of course fell on deaf western ears, as someone immediately asked about Trump’s statistics on the remaining “Islamic State.”

Excellency Jaafari did respond, however, to educate the reporter that there is no such thing, there is “a bunch of terrorists gathered from all over the world…all kinds of hyenas.”

Golan
“Allies performed records in demolishing infrastructure.” H.E. Jaafari was speaking of the Fascist Coalition of war criminals against Syria.

One English-speaking colonialist whined from a State Department-type script, about these being “different times.” Nu, is it not always different times? Since when does the movement of the planet legitimize theft, authorize a third party to declare theft to be lawful?

Golan
UNSCR 242 (1967). Israel must return the Golan to its legal country, Syria.

Not surprisingly, one of the most fetid collections of questions came from an incel-sounding voice claiming to be of the Middle East Eye. “MEE is the offspring of the inbred relationship of UK’s The Guardian and Qatar’s al-Jazeera, consistently supportive of NATO Spring takfiri in Syria.

“MEE”‘s first question was sheer idiocy, suggesting that a tweet has the power to legalize a crime. The second question was an attempt to propagandize against Syria’s Golan, and to propagandize for future hypothetical victimhood of Israeli occupiers on the Golan which belongs to the SAR.

Syrians on Syria’s Golan fly the Syrian flag.

Dr. Jaafari carefully explained that Syria will regain that which it owns, and that there are no Israeli civilians on Syrian land: “They are settlers, not civilians. They must leave.”

Golan
“What is the alternative to diplomacy? You know the answer.” “When you have no other choice to get back your rights, it’s your duty.”

Multiple attempts were made to provoke Dr. Jaafari into a response to create another wave of anti-Syria hysteria in western media. His character state of professional diplomat is likely the reason his urgent statement on Trump’s criminal tweet in support of Israel’s criminal occupation of the Golan has been ignored by “mainstream media.”

ADDENDA:

Ambassador Jaafari’s statement focused on UNSC Resolutions supporting Syria’s ownership of its Golan.

We remind our readers that both the US and Israel are signatories to the Geneva treaties, which have strict principles governing occupation, which is supposed to be temporary:

golan
Principles governing occupation.

We also remind our readers that Israel has bragged about providing terrorists with state of the art medical care on the Syrian Golan, which it occupies; that Israeli medium reported that Israel is the number one purchaser of oil stolen by terrorists; that Israel breaches all of the principles governing what is supposed to be temporary occupation.

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‘Israel’ Bans Top Palestinian Waqf Officials from Al-Aqsa Mosque

By Staff, Agencies

Zionist Police extended illegal bans on top Palestinian officials who oversee occupied al-Quds’ Aqsa Mosque from entering the holy site.

The move, which is destined to escalate tensions, came on Sunday weeks after the Islamic Waqf Council, a religious body appointed by Jordan to oversee the sacred compound, defied a 16-year ‘Israeli’ ban on the Bab al-Rahma building within the site and reopened it to Muslim worshippers.

Following the council’s decision on February 14, head of Islamic Waqf Sheikh Abdel-Azeem Salhab and his deputy, Sheikh Najeh Bkerat, were briefly detained and hit with a one-week ban.

‘Israeli’ police extended the bans on Sunday by 40 days for Salhab and four months for Bkerat, according to a spokesman for the Waqf Council.

The Zionist occupation authorities shut down Bab al-Rahma in 2003, claiming the site was being used by members of the Islamic Movement in the occupied territories for political activities, an allegation the Waqf Council denies.

Since its reopening, some 100 Palestinian activists and religious figures have been detained “in an effort to put an end to Palestinian defiance of ‘Israeli’ orders”, according to Wafa, a Palestinian news agency

Among them were Arafat Naib, a guard at the Al-Aqsa compound, who was banned from entering the site for six months, and Nasser Qous, a Fatah party official in occupied al-Quds, who was also barred for 40 days.

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As ‘Israel’ Attacks, Teargases Palestinians during the 47th Great Return March, Palestinians Open Al-Aqsa Gate Sealed since 2003

‘Israel’ Attacks, Teargases Palestinians during the 47th Great Return March

By Staff, Agencies

Dozens of Palestinians were martyred or suffocated as peaceful demonstrators were participating in the 47th Great Return March on Friday.

According to a local source, tens of thousands of citizens gathered in the five Al-Awda Camps along the separation fence in the eastern part of Gaza Strip, in a peaceful march to affirm the right of return and the need to break the siege imposed on Gaza.

The source added that ‘Israeli’ occupation soldiers gathered along the separation barrier, fired gas bombs and live bullets, which led to the injury of 7 citizens by live bullets, and dozens others suffocated.

Among the wounded, a paramedic was hit by a bullet in the foot east Gaza, the source confirmed.

By Staff

After more than 16 years of being sealed by the apartheid “Israeli” entity, Palestinian worshipers were able to break al-Rahma Gate [Gate of Mercy] in the eastern part of the Al-Aqsa Holy Mosque on Friday.

Palestinians raised the Palestinian flag as they called slogans in support of Occupied Al-Quds and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Hundreds of Palestinians performed Friday prayers inside the al-Rahma Gate building and in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Earlier this week, “Israeli” occupation forces had previously assaulted Palestinian worshipers performing prayers at the gate in protest of the seal off.

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Weekly report on israel’s terrorism on Palestinians (14 February – 20 February)

PCHR Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations Territory (14 – 20 February 2019)

Israeli forces continued with systematic crimes, in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), for the week of 14 – 20 February, 2019.

Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protestors in the Gaza Strip. 119 civilians, including 31 children, 6 women, 2 paramedics, and a journalist, were wounded in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces conducted 82 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 3 other incursions in Jerusalem. 4 civilians, including a journalist, sustained wounds in different incidents in the West Bank. 87 civilians, including 8 children and a woman, were arrested. 33 of them, including 2 children and a woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem.

Shooting:

 

In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli forces continued to use lethal force against the participants in the peaceful protests organized along the Gaza Strip borders, which witnessed the peaceful protests for the 47th week along the eastern and northern border area of the Gaza Strip. They also continued to use force as well during the incursions into the West Bank.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces wounded 119 civilians, including 31 children, 6 women, 2 paramedics, and a journalist, while participating in the Return March. In the West Bank, 4 civilians, including a journalist, were wounded by the Israeli forces in different incidents.

 

 

Injuries in the Gaza Strip between 14-20 February 2019 According to the Governorate

Governorate Injuries
Total Children Women Journalists Paramedics Critical Injuries
Northern Gaza Strip 41 13 4 0 1 2
Gaza City 34 8 1 1 0 1
Central Gaza Strip 9 4 1 0 0 1
Khan Younis 12 1 0 0 0 0
Rafah 23 5 0 0 1 3
Total 119 31 6 1 2 7

 

  • As part of targeting the Palestinian fishermen in the sea, the Israeli forces continued to escalate their attacks against the Palestinian fishermen, indicating the on-going Israeli policy to target their livelihoods. During the reporting period, PCHR documented 12 incidents were off the Gaza Strip Shores. The latest of these incidents was on Wednesday, 20 February 2019, Israeli gunboats stationed in the sea, west of Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip, heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 11 nautical miles. The Israeli gunboats chased and surrounded 2 fishing boats; one of them belong to Tareq ‘Abed al-Razeq Baker, from Gaza City. The first fishing boat was manned by Hitham (27) and ‘Awad (22) Tareq ‘Abed al-Razeq Baker. Both of them were arrested in addition to confiscating his fishing boat. The second fishing boat belong to Khadir Marwan al-Sa’idi (30) and was manned by Khadir and Mohamed Sa’ied al-Sa’idi (27). Both of them are from al-Shati camp. The 2 fishermen were arrested and the fishing boat was confiscated.

 

  • As part of targeting the border areas, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, opened fire at agricultural lands, east of al-Bureij camp, and no casualties were reported.

 

  • On the same day, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, opened fire at agricultural lands, east of Gaza Valley village (Johr al-Dik), al-Buraij and al-Maghazi in the central Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported.

 

  • On 17 February 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, opened fire at agricultural lands, east of Dir al-Balah, and no casualties were reported.

 

  • On the same day, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, fired 2 artillery shells at 2 checkpoints belonging to al-Qassam Brigades, and no casualties were reported.

 

  • On 19 February 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, east of al-Shawka village, east of Rafah, opened fire at agricultural lands, and no casualties were reported.

 

  • In the West Bank, Israeli forces wounded 4 civilians, including a journalist, in different incidents.

 

Incursions:

 

During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 82 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 54 Palestinians, including 6 children. Moreover, the Israeli forces conducted at least 3 military incursions into Jerusalem, where they arrested 33 civilians, including 2 children and a woman.

 

 

Israeli Forces Continued to Create a Jewish Majority in East Jerusalem City:

 

  • As part of the Israeli house demolitions and notices, on 14 February 2019, Israeli forces surrounded a house belonging to Mohammad Moussa Razaina and demolished it under the pretext of non-licensing. The 80-square-meter house sheltered a family of 5 members, including 3 children. It should be mentioned that the Israeli forces had demolished Mhoammad’s house in 2016 under the pretext that it is close to the annexation wall.
  • On 20 February 2019, Israeli Jerusalem Municipality bulldozers demolished 2 apartments and a horse stall in al-Ashqaria neighborhood in Beit Hanina village, north of occupied East Jerusalem. The first apartment built on an area of 72 sqaure meters and shelters Taysseeer Mohammad al-Mohtasseb and his family, which is comprised of 6 member, including 2 children, while the other apartment built on an area of 48 square meters and shelters Shadi al-Mohtasseb, Taysseer’s son, and his family, which is comprised of 4 members, including 2 children. Moreover, an 18-square-meter horse stall was demolished.

 

Israeli Forces continued their settlement activities, and the settlers continued their attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property

 

  • As part of Israeli settlers’ attacks and demolition, Israeli forces accompanied with a bulldozer moved into ‘Ein al-Hejra, east of Dura, southwest of Hebron. The bulldozer damaged sheds that farmers of Abu Moqadam family made to sell vegetables produced in their land. The Israeli authorities alleged that the sheds were illegally established near bypass road (60).

 

  • On 17 February 2019, Israeli forces accompanied with 2 bulldozers moved into Marakah area, in the eastern area of Beit Dajan, east of Nablus. The bulldozers started to demolish the 100-meter water line between al-Nassria village in the Central Jordan Valley and Beit Furik and Beit Dajan water well.

 

  • On 19 February 2019, , Israeli forces accompanied with 3 Israeli Civil Administration vehicles and 2 bulldozers moved into Khirbet al-Ras al-Ahmar in the Northern Jordan Valley, east of Tubas. The bulldozers demolished 2 residential tents, 4 barracks for breeding livestock, a mobile bathroom, a water tank, and a sheep barn belonging to Jehad Mohammad Fahed Bani ‘Odah and Fatma Suliman Mafthy Bani ‘Odah.

 

  • On the same day, Israeli forces confiscated 450m2 of street tiles out of 2760m2 located in Hayat al-Reef Park in al-Mas’oudiyia area, northwest of Nablus. It should be mentioned that the park is established on an area of 5 dunums, 3.5 of which are in (B) area and 1.5 in (C) area.

 

  • As part of the Israeli settlers’ attacks against the Palestinians civilians and their property, PCHR’s fieldworkers documented during the reporting period 2 attacks carried out by Israeli settlers. Those attacks were as follows:

 

  • On 14 February 2019, a group of settlers, from “Yitzhar” settlement, backed by Israeli forces moved into the east of ‘Urif village, south of Nablus. They raided ‘Urif High School for Males and lowered the Palestinian flag and tore it down.

 

  • On 17 February 2019, a group of Israeli settlers, from the evacuated “Homesh” settlement in the east of Silat al-Dhahr village, south of Jenin, attacked a vegetable stall at the southern entrance of the village. The settlers stepped out of their vehicles and smashed the windshield of a car belonging to Abdul Kareem Jameel Ahmad Rabai’a (34), from Meithalun village, southeast of Jenin, which he uses to sell vegetables. Abuld Kareem immediately escaped leaving the stall on the street. Following that, the settlers stole some of the stall’s items.

Use of Force against Demonstrations in Protest against the U.S. President’s Decision to Recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel:

 

Israeli forces continued its excessive use of lethal force against peaceful demonstration organized by Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and it was named as “The Great March of Return and Breaking Siege.” The demonstration was in protest against the U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration to move the U.S. Embassy to it. According to PCHR fieldworkers’ observations, the border area witnessed large participation by Palestinian civilians as the Israeli forces continued to use upon highest military and political echelons excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators, though the demonstration were fully peaceful. The demonstration was as follows during the reporting period:

 

 

Gaza Strip:

 

  • At approximately 19:00 on Thursday, 14 February 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, adjacent to the Return Camp, east of al-Shawkah village, east of Rafah, fired live bullets and tear gas canisters at dozens of Palestinian young men participating in the so-called “Night Disturbance”. As a result, 6 civilians, including a child, were wounded. 3 of them were hit with live bullets and shrapnel and 3 were directly hit with tear gas canisters.

 

On 14 February 2019, the 47th week of the March of Return and Breaking Siege activities, the incidents were as follows:

 

  • Gaza City: The Israeli shooting at Palestinian demonstrates resulted in the injury of 27 civilians, including 6 children, a women, and a journalist. Sixteen of them were hit with live bullets, 9 were hit with rubber bullets and 2 were directly hit with tear gas canisters. The wounded journalist Mohammed ‘Emad Mohammed al-Za’noun (33) was hit with a tear gas canister to the left hand.

 

  • Northern Gaza Strip: The Israeli shooting at Palestinian demonstrates resulted in the injury of 6 civilians, including 4 children and a female paramedic. The wounded civilians were directly hit with tear gas canisters. It should be noted that the female paramedic was identified as Jamila Sobhi Youssof al-Feery (19). Jamila was hit with a tear gas canister to the abdomen.

 

 

  • Central Gaza Strip: The Israeli shooting at the demonstrators resulted in the injury of 8 civilians, including 3 children and a woman. Six of them were hit with live bullets and 2 were directly hit with tear gas canisters. The injury of one of them was reported serious.

 

  • Khan Younis: The Israeli shooting at the demonstrators resulted in the injury of 6 civilians. Three of them were hit with live bullets, 2 were directly hit with tear gas canisters and 1 was hit with a rubber bullet.

 

  • Rafah: The Israeli shooting at the demonstrators resulted in the injury of 17 civilians, including 4 children and a paramedic. Nine of them were hit with live bullets and 8 were directly hit with tear gas canisters. The injury of 3 of them was classified as serious. The wounded paramedic was identified as Hussain Samir Mustafa Abu Snan (19). Hussian, who was hit with a tear gas canister to the lower limbs, works as a volunteer paramedic with Youth Emergency Team.

 

  • At approximately 19:00 on Saturday, 16 February 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, east of Khuza’a villag, east of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, fired live bullets and tear gas canisters at dozens of Palestinian young men while protesting in the area within the so-called “Night Disturbance”. The Palestinian young men set fire to tires, lighted laser lights and fired fireworks at the border fence. As a result, 30 of them suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures and were taken to the Gaza European and the Algerian Hospitals, where they received treatment before leaving to their houses.

 

  • At approximately 18:30 on Sunday, 17 February 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, east of al-Na’ayma Street, east of Beit Hanoun, north of the Gaza Strip, opened fire and fired tear gas canisters at a group of civilian, who approached the border fence. These civilians fired homemade sound bombs, set fire and used loudspeakers as part of the so-called “Night Disturbance”. As a result, a 23-year-old civilian sustained superficial wound to the left arm and back. He was taken to the Governmental Beit Hanoun Hospital, where doctors classified his wound as moderate.

 

  • Around the same time, in similar circumstances, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, east of the Return Camp, east of Abu Safia Hill, north of Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip, wounded a 21-year-old male, from al-Shaikh Redwan neighborhood in Gaza City. The male was hit with a live bullet to the chest and then taken to the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza City.

 

 

  • On the same day, a 17-year-old child, from al-Buraij Refugee Camp, was hit with a live bullet to the lower limbs near the Return Camp, east of al-Buraij Refugee Camp in the Central Gaza Strip.

 

  • At approximately 19:00 on Monday, 18 February 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, fired live and rubber bullets at civilians in Malaka area, east of al-Zaytoun neighborhood, east of Gaza City. As a result 7 civilians, including 2 children, were wounded.

 

  • At approximately 14:45, on 19 February 2019, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, and Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, opened fire and fired sound bombs at dozens of Palestinian civilians who were at the Return camp along the border coastal, adjacent to adjacent to “Zikim”military base, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. It should be noted that this is the 24th time for Palestinian boats to sail for Breaking the Siege. As a result, 33 civilians, including 9 children and 3 women, were wounded. Sixteen of them were hit with live bullets and shrapnel and 17 were directly hit with tear gas canisters. The injury of one of them was classified as serious while the rest injuries were classified between moderate and minor.

 

 

  • At approximately 19:00 on Wednesday, 20 February 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, adjacent to Return Camp, east of Khan Younis, fired live and rubber bullets at dozens of young men demonstrating in the area within the activities of the so-called “Night Disturbance”. The Palestinian young men set fire, lighted laser lights and fireworks at the border fence. It should be noted that these young men approached the border fence, sneaked through it and set fire to tires along the border fence. As a result, 6 civilians, including a child, were hit with live bullets, shrapnel and tear gas canisters
  • Efforts to Create A Jewish majority

 

 

Israeli forces escalated their attacks on Palestinian civilians and their property. They have also continued their raids on al-Aqsa Mosque and denied the Palestinians access to it:

 

 

Arrests and Incursions:

 

  • On Monday, 18 February 2019, Israeli forces attacked Jerusalemite civilians in al-Aqsa Mosque while protesting against close al-Rahma Gate, one of the Al-Aqsa Mosque gates. At approximately 10:00, Israeli forces closed al-Rahma Gate with locks and chains. When a Palestinian worshiper damaged the locks, the Israeli forces arrested 7 civilians, including a woman, and then took them to an investigation center in occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli forces released the arrested civilians after detaining them for few hours and questioning them. The arrested civilians were released on one condition that they will deport from al-Aqsa Mosque for one week. The arrested civilians were identified as ‘Ammar Kastiro (31), Nour Shalab (24), Mohamed al-Zaghir (22), Husam Seder (35), Nizam Abu Rumuz (38), Raied Da’nah (34), and Nazimah Bkirat (40).
  • At approximately 01:00 on Tuesday, 19 February 2019, Israeli forces moved into al-Thawri neighborhood, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohamed al-Daqaq (28) and then arrested him.
  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into al-Thawri neighborhood, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohamed al-Shalabi (35) and then arrested him.
  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Issawiyia village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem. They raided and searched 2 houses belonging to Majd Dari (23) and Ahmed Derbas (24) and then arrested them.
  • At approximately 20:00 on Tuesday, 19 February 2019, after Palestinian worshipers performed al-Isha prayer, they organized a peaceful demonstration near al-Rahm Gate. The Israeli forces immediately attacked them and beat the worshipers. They also arrested 19 of them. PCHR keeps the names of the arrested worshipers.

 

 

Notices and House Demolitions:

 

  • On Tuesday morning, 14 February 2019, Israeli forces accompanied with a bulldozer and crews of the Israeli Municipality moved into Beer ‘Ona neighborhood in al-Walaja village, southwest of occupied East Jerusalem. They surrounded a house belonging to Mohammad Moussa Razaina and demolished it under the pretext of non-licensing. The 80-square-meter house sheltered a family of 5 members, including 3 children. It should be mentioned that the Israeli forces had demolished Mhoammad’s house in 2016 under the pretext that it is close to the annexation wall. It should also be noted that Beer ‘Ona neighborhood was within Beit Jala’s lands, but it was annexed to Jerusalem’s municipality after the Israeli occupation of 1967. Moreover, most of Beer ‘Ona’s residents hold the Palestinian Authority’s ID card (green ID card), while they are supposed to hold the Jerusalem ID card (blue ID cards), noting that they pay the property tax to Jerusalem’s municipality.

 

  • On Wednesday morning, 20 February 2019, Israeli Jerusalem Municipality bulldozers demolished 2 apartments and a horse stall in al-Ashqaria neighborhood in Beit Hanina village, north of occupied East Jerusalem. The first apartment built on an area of 72 sqaure meters and shelters Taysseeer Mohammad al-Mohtasseb and his family, which is comprised of 6 member, including 2 children, while the other apartment built on an area of 48 square meters and shelters Shadi al-Mohtasseb, Taysseer’s son, and his family, which is comprised of 4 members, including 2 children. Moreover, an 18-square-meter horse stall was demolished. Taysseer al-Mohtasseb said to PCHR’s fieldworker that he built his house in 2012 and paid a fee of NIS 42,000 and the Municipality refused to give him building permit or a license for the current building. He also said that at approximately 08:00 of the same day, he was surprised with by a great number of border guards, police and special forces ordering them to leave the house regardless of the court decision to postpone the demolition. It should be mentioned that the losses of Taysseer reached up to NIS 500,000.

 

 

 

Seizing lands in Favor of Settlement Associations

 

  • At approximately 09:00, on Sunday, 17 February 2019, Israeli forces raided a house belonging to Hatem Shaker Abu ‘Assab (45), from al-Qurmy neighborhood in the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem. They locked the family members in the house for 2 hours and ordered them to voluntarily evacuate the house for settlers, who obtained a judicial decision issued by the Israeli Supreme Court alleging that it is a Jewish house and tenants’ protection law has become invalid according to third generation law. The residents refused to evacuate the house, therefore the forces attacked them and arrested Hatem and his children Abdullah (13) and Mahdi (15) and then forced Rania Abu ‘Assab (40), his wife, and his Aunt to leave the house and give it to the settlers. The house is comprised of 8 and sheltered 8 members, including 4 children. It should be noted that the family continuously lived in the house since 1953 and never left it as 3 generation lived in it (the grandfather, the father and Hatem, the grandson). The tenants’ protection period lapsed when Hatem Abu ‘Assab’s mother died in 2014, according to the Israeli law.

 

 

Settlement activities and attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and property

 

Israeli forces’ attacks:

 

  • At approximately 10:00, on Thursday, 14 February 2019, Israeli forces accompanied with a bulldozer moved into ‘Ein al-Hejra, east of Dura, southwest of Hebron. The bulldozer damaged sheds that farmers of Abu Moqadam family made to sell vegetables produced in their land. The Israeli authorities alleged that the sheds were illegally established near bypass road (60).

 

  • At approximately 13:30, on Sunday, 17 February 2019, Israeli forces accompanied with 2 bulldozers moved into Marakah area, in the eastern area of Beit Dajan, east of Nablus. The bulldozers started to demolish the 100-meter water line between al-Nassria village in the Central Jordan Valley and Beit Furik and Beit Dajan water well. It should be mentioned that the Israeli forces had suspended this project one year ago. Meanwhile, understandings between the Palestinian and Israeli liaisons to continue the work on the project.

 

  • At approximately 10:00, on Monday, 18 February 2019, Israeli forces accompanied by an Israeli Civil and Administration vehicle moved into al-Fakheet and ‘Ein Halawa areas in Mssafer Yatta, south of Hebron. An officer of the Israeli Civil Administration handed 4 notices under the pretext of non-licensing. Moreover, a similar notice was handed to a children’s park established on an area of a dumum. The notices were as follows:

 

Name Area Type of Facility Area (m2) Notice Type
‘Essa Ismaeel Ahmad Hammad Al-Fkaheet Barrack 100 m2 Final Warning
Sameer Mohammad Hussien Hamamdah Al-Fkaheet Residential room 40 m2 Final Warning
‘Ali Mohammad ‘Ali Abu ‘Arram Al-Halawa Residential room 40 m2 Final Warning
‘Ali Mohammad ‘Ali Abu ‘Arram Al-Halawa Residential room 40 m2 Final Warning

 

  • At approximately 08:00, on Tuesday 19 February 2019, Israeli forces accompanied with 3 Israeli Civil Administration vehicles and 2 bulldozers moved into Khirbet al-Ras al-Ahmar in the Northern Jordan Valley, east of Tubas. The bulldozers demolished tents, buildings and sheep barn belonging to Jehad Mohammad Fahed Bani ‘Odah and Fatma Suliman Mafthy Bani ‘Odah. The damages were as follows:
  • Mohammad Fahed Bani ‘Odah: demolishing a residential tent, 2 sheep tents and 3 60-square-meter barracks; a mobile bathroom, a 1500-cubic-meter tank and a 350-square-meter sheep barn.
  • Fatma Suliman Mafthy Bani ‘Odah: demolishing a residential tent and a 100-square-meter sheep barrack.

 

  • At approximately 12:00, on Tuesday 19 February 2019, Israeli forces accompanied with 3 Israeli Civil Administration vehicles and 2 mounted-crane trucks moved into al-Mas’udiyya area, northwest of Nablus. They confiscated 450mof street tiles out of 2760mlocated in Hayat al-Reef Park in the aforementioned area. The confiscated tiles belong to Thiab Sameeh Hejah, who owns the land and is from Burqa village, and his associates Ahmad Hussney Thiab Far’onia and Khaled Tameem Manssour Saelem, from the Burqa village, and Mohammad Jaber Salem, from Bizzariya village. Before their withdrawal, an officer identified himself as “Maeer”, who serves as the officer of the northern area in the civil administration, handed them a confiscation notice. The aforementioned civilians were told that the forces will come back to confiscate the rest of the tiles in the next day. It should be mentioned that the park is established on an area of 5 dunums, 3.5 of which are in (B) area and 1.5 in (C) area.

 

 

Israeli settlers’ attacks:

 

  • At approximately 14:50, on Thursday, 14 February 2019, a group of settlers from “Yitzhar” settlement backed by Israeli forces moved into the east of ‘Urif village, south of Nablus. They raided ‘Urif High School for Males and lowered the Palestinian flag and tore it down. Meanwhile, a number of Palestinian civilians gathered and threw stones at the settlers. After that, the Israeli forces immediately tear gas canisters, sound bombs and rubber bullets at them. As a result, a 24-year-old male was hit with 2 rubber bullets to the back. He was then taken to Rafidia Surgical Hospital in Nablus, where his wounds were classified as moderate.

 

  • At approximately 10:00, on Sunday, 17 February 2019, about 8 masked and armed settlers from the evacuated “Homesh” settlement in the east of Silat al-Dhahr village, south of Jenin, attacked a vegetable stall at the southern entrance of the village. The settlers stepped out of their vehicles and smashed the windshield of a car belonging to Abdul Kareem Jameel Ahmad Rabai’a (34), from Meithalun village, southeast of Jenin, which he uses to sell vegetables. Abuld Kareem immediately escaped leaving the stall on the street. Following that, the settlers stole some of the stall’s items. After their withdrawal, Abdul Kareem returned to take whatever was left of the stall in his bus then returned to his house in Meithalun for fear of his life.

 

 

  • Recommendations to the International Community

 

PCHR warns of the escalating settlement construction in the West Bank, the attempts to legitimize settlement outposts established on Palestinian lands in the West Bank and the continued summary executions of Palestinian civilians under the pretext that they pose a security threat to the Israeli forces. PCHR reminds the international community that thousands of Palestinian civilians have been rendered homeless and lived in caravans under tragic circumstances due to the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip that has been under a tight closure for almost 11 years. PCHR welcomes the UN Security Council’s Resolution No. 2334, which states that settlements are a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions and calls upon Israel to stop them and not to recognize any demographic change in the oPt since 1967.  PCHR hopes this resolution will pave the way for eliminating the settlement crime and bring to justice those responsible for it. PCHR further reiterates that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation in spite of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan of 2005.  PCHR emphasizes that there is international recognition of Israel’s obligation to respect international human rights instruments and international humanitarian law.  Israel is bound to apply international human rights law and the law of war, sometimes reciprocally and other times in parallel, in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for the victims.

  1. PCHR calls upon the international community to respect the Security Council’s Resolution No. 2334 and to ensure that Israel respects it as well, in particular point 5 which obliges Israel not to deal with settlements as if they were part of Israel.
  2. PCHR calls upon the ICC this year to open an investigation into Israeli crimes committed in the oPt, particularly the settlement crimes and the 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip.
  3. PCHR Calls upon the European Union (EU) and all international bodies to boycott settlements and ban working and investing in them in application of their obligations according to international human rights law and international humanitarian law considering settlements as a war crime.
  4. PCHR calls upon the international community to use all available means to allow the Palestinian people to enjoy their right to self-determination through the establishment of the Palestinian State, which was recognized by the UN General Assembly with a vast majority, using all international legal mechanisms, including sanctions to end the occupation of the State of Palestine.
  5. PCHR calls upon the international community and United Nations to take all necessary measures to stop Israeli policies aimed at creating a Jewish demographic majority in Jerusalem and at voiding Palestine from its original inhabitants through deportations and house demolitions as a collective punishment, which violates international humanitarian law, amounting to a crime against humanity.
  6. PCHR calls upon the international community to condemn summary executions carried out by Israeli forces against Palestinians and to pressurize Israel to stop them.
  7. PCHR calls upon the States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC to work hard to hold Israeli war criminals accountable.
  8. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligations under article (1) of the Convention to ensure respect for the Conventions under all circumstances, and under articles (146) and (147) to search for and prosecute those responsible for committing grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions to ensure justice and remedy for Palestinian victims, especially in light of the almost complete denial of justice for them before the Israeli judiciary.
  9. PCHR calls upon the international community to speed up the reconstruction process necessary because of the destruction inflicted by the Israeli offensive on Gaza.
  10. PCHR calls for a prompt intervention to compel the Israeli authorities to lift the closure that obstructs the freedom of movement of goods and 1.8 million civilians that experience unprecedented economic, social, political and cultural hardships due to collective punishment policies and retaliatory action against civilians.
  11. PCHR calls upon the European Union to apply human rights standards embedded in the EU-Israel Association Agreement and to respect its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights when dealing with Israel.
  12. PCHR calls upon the international community, especially states that import Israeli weapons and military services, to meet their moral and legal responsibility not to allow Israel to use the offensive in Gaza to test new weapons and not accept training services based on the field experience in Gaza in order to avoid turning Palestinian civilians in Gaza into testing objects for Israeli weapons and military tactics.
  13. PCHR calls upon the parties to international human rights instruments, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to pressurize Israel to comply with its provisions in the oPt and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the relevant committees.
  14. PCHR calls upon the EU and international human rights bodies to pressurize the Israeli forces to stop their attacks against Palestinian fishermen and farmers, mainly in the border area.

Full document available at the official website of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR).

Americans Can Criticise America. But not Israel.

February 12, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

By Eve Mykytyn

It is official.  Criticism of Israel is anti Semitism and recognizing the power of Aipac invites retribution.

Ilhan Omar, a Democratic Congresswoman from Minnesota first created a stir by refusing to delete her 2012 tweet that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” Her original tweet was in response to Israel’s eight-day bombing of Gaza, the so-called  Operation Pillar of Defense.  The IDF claimed that it had “as usual…made great efforts to reduce the number of civilian casualties and amount of collateral damage.” The families of the167 Palestinians killed in the bombing were no doubt reassured by these words.

Ms Omar recently apologized for her choice of words, but added,

“what is really important to me is that people recognize that there is a difference between criticizing a military action by a government that has exercised really oppressive policies and being offensive or attacking to particular people of faithI say the same things, if not worse, when it comes to the Saudi government. I’ve called for boycotts of Hajj, and boycotts of Saudi Arabia, …when you see oppression taking place …when you see our values being attacked as humans, you must stand up, and it doesn’t matter who the inhabiters of that particular region might be.””

This humanitarian statement was evidently too much for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy who threatened punishment for Ms Omar and for Rashida Tlaib, Muslim representative from Michigan.  Mr. McCarthy was surely not influenced by the fact that uber Zionist Sheldon Adelson is currently the Republican’s largest donor. And, of course, McCarthy was joined by a chorus of outraged congressmen.

Glenn Greenwald tweeted in response,

“GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”

Omar replied to Greenwald, quoting a 1997 rap song by Puff Daddy “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.” Apparently no one at Politico is familiar with Puff Daddy, and hysterically interpreted the music emoji Omar attached as a suggestion “that money was calling the tune for McCarthy.”

Batya Ungar-Sargon, opinion editor of the formerly leftwing news outlet, The Forward, asked  Omar: “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel.” Omar replied with what everyone knows. “AIPAC.”

Presidential daughter Chelsea Clinton chimed in, tweeting,

“We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.”

Omar’s reply was more well reasoned and polite than Clinton’s words merited.

“We must call out smears from the GOP and their allies. And I believe we can do that without criticizing people for their faith. I look forward to building an inclusive movement for justice with you.”

And of course, the liberal. First the need to explain that they are on the correct side before taking the wrong side. Joshua Zeitz, liberal historian and contributing editor at Politico,  wrote that he is “one of those American Jews who opposes the occupation, laments Israel’s anti-democratic drift, and doesn’t regard the country as especially central to my Jewish identity.” The tweet then condemns Omar, “She might as well call us hooked-nosed.”

Oh, so noting the money that Israel and its supporters pour money into the political system is the same as physical stereotyping? Really?

Update. Following condemnation from party boss, Nancy Pelosi, Ms Omar has “unequivocally apologize[d]” for telling the truth. 

How They Do It–Does Racism Now Define Jewish Identity in Israel?

It’s not clear that Israel is more racist these days. But when religious authorities reinforce a race-based Jewish identity and Netanyahu legitimizes Kahane’s heirs, we’ve got a problem

ed note–as the reader will see, our unesteemed Hebraic author is not just some little mealy-mouthed ‘sort of’ Jew whose exposure to Judaism has been limited to dressing up like Krusty the Clown on Purim once a year. As he personally relates it, he attended yeshiva in Israel in his youth and was schooled by rabbis his entire life.

Therefore, by virtue of all of this, he KNOWS what his own religion and culture teach about ‘his people’ and their status as ‘chosen’ and having been selected by yahweh to be the ‘light amongst the nations’ and about being ‘above all others on the face of the earth’.

He knows. He knows it all began with a pennless nomad named Abram wandering around in the desert hearing voices in his head, some telling him to slit his son’s throat and then burn the corpse on an altar as an act of human sacrifice to the deity whose voice he claims to have heard in his head. He also knows that the starting point for the whole ugly affair began with —

‘I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all nations of the earth be blessed.’

In other words, racism–DNA based narcissism–was something that began literally at the very beginning of the entire Judaic affair, and our un-esteemed Hebraic author knows this, and yet, he asks the question, as if it weren’t already immediately apparent and did not need asking, whether or not the Jewish state has become ‘racist’, when in fact it is as much a question that needs asking as  whether or not water is wet or fire is hot.

But this ‘how they do it’. They ask these questions in such a way as if the answer were not already apparent, and in the process of their typically verbose and circular jabber-jawing, inundate the reader with a bunch of Hebraic hocus-pocus/mumbo-jumbo that results in the reader’s curiosity vis a vis this problematic topic being blunted via the over-saturation of Judaic nonsense.

And what’s worse is how many gullible lap dogs–and particularly those of the non-Hebraic persuasion–will lap it up.

Perhaps the answer to the burning question as to why NOW is the appropriate time for an intellectual exploration of this type is provided thus–

‘We are inundated by surveys and statistics that tell us that racism is on the rise, but none of those who collate these figures can tell us how bad things were before every nasty word was broadcast in real-time on social media and before each act of racial violence was recorded on smartphones and uploaded to the web. I remember growing up in Israel of the late 1980s. Arab workers (no-one called them Palestinian then) were regularly assaulted on the streets, and the stories of abuse of Palestinian detainees one heard from older friends who were soldiers during the early days of the First Intifada were, if anything, worse than the horrific cases happening today. And very little made it into the media.’

In other words, that aparitif known as ‘damage control’, spiced up with a twist of  ‘deflection’ and a pinch of ‘distraction’.

As we like to say, no one ever accused ‘them’ of being stupid.

Haaretz

I don’t have many good things to say about the rabbis who taught me as a teenager. But I had a momentary recollection of positivity early this week when Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that he was trying to get the religious nationalist Jewish Home party to link up with the other far-right parties – including the Kahanist Otzma l’Yisrael, to avoid the right-wing bloc losing votes.

Back in November 1990, when the far right extremist Meir Kahane was assassinated in New York, our yeshiva forbade its students from going to the funeral in Jerusalem. Other religious nationalist yeshivas did the same.

This wasn’t a small thing. Telling yeshiva students you couldn’t go to the funeral of a Jew who had been murdered as a Jew. But there was a very self-conscious effort at the time to make it clear there was a difference between us and the Kahanists.

Fast-forward 28 years, and no senior rabbi or politician has objected to Netanyahu’s indecent proposal. At the most you can hear their muttering, “We’ll have to see in the polls if it makes electoral sense.” Not a peep about how unthinkable the idea of joining a blatantly racist party should, one not morally worth considering, even if it would jeopardize the right-wing’s hold on power.

At this point some readers may be nodding that there isn’t that much difference between the religious nationalist, or Orthodox Zionist, community in Israel and the Kahanists anyway. Both are nationalist-fundamentalists who believe Jews should settle the entire historical homeland and disregard the basic rights of non-Jews living there. How is the old-school genteel national-religious racism better than the in-your-face fascist version of Kahane’s disciples?

But it wasn’t that simple three decades ago and it isn’t today. Not only is that broad section of Israeli society (and Jewish society outside Israel as well) which seeks to live a Torah-observant life, while being part of the modern world, impossible to classify in one religious and political box, with dozens of sub-groups existing on the non-parallel scales of nationalism and piety, but the notion that Israelis have become either more or less racist over the years is highly problematic.

We are inundated by surveys and statistics that tell us that racism is on the rise, but none of those who collate these figures can tell us how bad things were before every nasty word was broadcast in real-time on social media and before each act of racial violence was recorded on smartphones and uploaded to the web.

I remember growing up in Israel of the late 1980s. Arab workers (no-one called them Palestinian then) were regularly assaulted on the streets, and the stories of abuse of Palestinian detainees one heard from older friends who were soldiers during the early days of the First Intifada were, if anything, worse than the horrific cases happening today. And very little made it into the media.

In the 1980s Kahane, who regularly led at his rallies chants of “Death to Arabs,” was an elected member of the Knesset. And when he was barred on the grounds of racism from running again in 1988, he was replaced in the Knesset by members of Moledet, whose official policy was ethnically cleansing the West Bank.

So no, I don’t think Israel is necessarily more racist today than it was then (and I’m not even going further back to the wonderful days of the Mapai governments when Israeli Arabs lived under martial law for decades). In some very small ways, particularly the exhaustingly slow, but increasing presence of minorities in gradually higher levels of public service (where they are still woefully underrepresented) things have actually improved.

What has undeniably changed and for the worse, as Netanyahu’s urging to bring the Kahanists in to the legitimate political tent (back in the day when Kahane was an MK, the other 119 members, including all Likudniks, would boycott his speeches, leaving him to address an empty plenum) perfectly shows, is that we’ve become much more tolerant of racism.

And in many ways tolerating racism, even if we believe ourselves to be non-racist, is equally bad. Treating Otzma L’Yisrael and its ilk as a legitimate party means that racism is an option. And when it’s an option, even if we claim not to choose it, racism permeates everything.

Here’s another example. This week, Haaretz’s Judy Maltz reported that rabbinical courts in Israel are demanding more and more immigrants from the former Soviet Union undergo DNA tests when seeking to marry in Israel and their Judaism is in question.

It’s easy to see this as another worrying sign of growing racism in Israel. Except it isn’t really. The dayanim in the rabbinical courts certainly don’t reflect Israeli society, but instead the ultra-Orthodox rabbinical establishment that has always sought to be the gatekeepers of the Jewish people. This isn’t even about Israel per se, it’s a millennia-old debate over what constitutes Jewishness which began in the Diaspora, weaponized by 21st century technology.

Twenty years ago, I reported in Haaretz on the first cases in which rabbinical courts were using DNA tests. At the time it was seen as a positive development, as the tests were meant to solve issues of mamzerut (bastardy) and allow people to wed in Orthodox marriages. The procedure was sanctioned by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, then the most senior of the ultra-Orthodox poskim (arbiters of halakha) who ruled that DNA testing should be used only to solve problems, not create new ones.

But Elyashiv’s warning has been disregarded, and when it comes to conversion, everything is kosher to reinforce the most reactionary definition of Jewishness.

Is this racism? Not necessarily. The narrow-minded halakhic concept of Jewish identity evolved historically as a reaction to the ruthless persecution of Jews for proselytizing Christians in the early centuries of the Holy Roman Empire. Today, the ultra-Orthodox attitude towards conversion is about intra-Jewish politics and maintaining their hegemony, not race. A convert who has completed the years of rigorous and often callous process of Haredi giyur will be treated as a Jew by the rabbinical courts, no matter the color of their skin.

But while the dayanim live in their own bubble, their actions still resonate. Using DNA profiles for what, for them, is only a technical halakhic decision, reinforces a racist definition of Jewish identity. That may not be their intention, but they don’t really care. They quite literally live in the dalet amot, the rarified – if not alienated – confines of halakha.

I don’t expect Haredi dayanim to exercise more care in their rulings, though I wish they would. But since they exercise inordinate power in Israel, countering their influence means other Jews should reexamine their own definitions of Jewishness. That includes – particularly for religious Jews – making it clear that Kahanism has no place in mainstream politics and Jewishness, but also rethinking attitudes to other forms of Jewish identity.

This week 80 Ethiopians arrived in Israel as new immigrants. They are the first group in about 1000 Ethiopians who have been allowed by the government to emigrate, for reasons of “family reunification.” Over the past 20 years, the Jewish Agency tasked by the government to facilitate the emigration of members of the Falashmura, has done so with gritted teeth, though current chairman Isaac Herzog has reversed that policy.

IOn my visits to the Falashmura compounds in Addis Ababa and Gondar, the Agency’s officials explained to me, usually off-record, that the thousands waiting there for years to be allowed to emigrate were masquerading as Jews and the victims of a cruel manipulation by cynical rabbis and activists making a living off their plight, and by the deluded tikkun olam intentions of American Jewish organizations. They warned that every Falashmura immigrant meant more dozens more relatives who would demand to be let in.

Veteran Ethiopian-Israelis, who belong to the original Beta Yisrael community, have said even harsher things. They described the Falashmura as the descendants of renegades who had converted to Christianity over a century ago, who had conveniently discovered their Jewish roots only when it meant a one-way ticket out of Ethiopia.

I used to accept this view, and wrote in this paper, upon returning from Ethiopia, that successive governments, caving in to pressure and authorizing every few years more Falashmura to emigrate, were “manufacturing Jews.” I’m no longer so sure that’s altogether a bad thing.

Not that we should continue turning a blind eye towards the Ethiopian conversion industry. But however it’s happening, they are arriving and becoming Israeli citizens. And gradually, painfully, slowly, the increasing presence of black Israeli Jews, as we saw last week in the protest in Tel Aviv against police violence towards them, is slowly opening the eyes of Israelis to much broader definitions of Jewish identity and to the pervasiveness of racism which they have tolerated for far too long.

New Amnesty report examines how Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor benefit from the israeli (apartheid state) occupation

New Amnesty report examines how Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor benefit from the Israeli occupation

Logo from the new Amnesty International campaign to get TripAdvisor to stop listing in Israeli settlements. (Image: Amnesty International)

Logo from the new Amnesty International campaign to get TripAdvisor to stop listing in Israeli settlements. (Image: Amnesty International)

Yet, shortly after its announcement Airbnb met with Israeli government officials and announced that it would not be implementing the policy after all. It then issued a maddening set of contradictory statements, which amounted to it wanting to both have its settlement-cake and eat it too. As of this week, Airbnb has yet to implement its new ban policy, as Judy Maltz noted yesterday in Haaretz. In other words, Airbnb is profiting from war crimes, and hoping that it will be forgotten, while it obfuscates its criminality with contradictory statements.

 

Cover of the new Amnesty International report “Destination: Occupation”

The story continues. Yesterday, Amnesty International released a report titled “Destination: Occupation”. In addition to Airbnb and Booking.com, Amnesty also targets Expedia and TripAdvisor:

Digital companies are revolutionizing how the world does tourism. Corporations like Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor, which dominate the multi-billion-dollar global online tourism industry, have become hugely successful. These companies all also list numerous hotels, B&Bs, attractions or tours in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). They are doing so despite knowing that Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law, and a war crime.

Amnesty notes the hypocrisy of these companies when it comes to “ethical values” in no uncertain terms:

All four companies claim to operate under high ethical values and respect for the rule of law. However, none of these standards appears to influence the companies’ decisions in relation to settlement listings. In doing business with settlements, all four companies are contributing to, and profiting from, the maintenance, development and expansion of illegal settlements, which amount to war crimes under international criminal law. Their promotion of Israeli settlements in the OPT as a tourist destination also has the effect of “normalizing”, and legitimizing to the public what is recognized under international law as an illegal situation.

The report also goes further than the Human Rights Watch report, in that it notes how, even if Airbnb would finally apply its policy and pull out of West Bank Israeli settlements, it would still be a violator in East Jerusalem:

Finally, since the company [Airbnb] did not extend its delisting commitment to settlements in East Jerusalem, the company is and will continue to be involved in human rights violations associated with these settlements for as long as it continues to do business with them. (p. 79)

Judy Maltz notes that “the online property rental company has not explained why it made this exception” – but the explanation is simple – Human Rights Watch did not include East Jerusalem in their focus, so why would Airbnb even bother? Likewise, Amnesty included East Jerusalem, but not the occupied Syrian Jolan (Golan Heights). That too is occupied territory. So, there are layers of criminality here, and we are only scraping the icing of the cake.

Nonetheless, Amnesty is clear in relation to these companies and Occupied Palestinian Territories (including East Jerusalem):

‘To comply with their responsibilities to uphold international humanitarian law and respect human rights, Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor must therefore stop listing tourist accommodation, activities and attractions in settlements or run by settlers in the OPT, including East Jerusalem.’ (p. 85)

Expedia and Booking.com respond

Amnesty managed to get two responses – from Expedia and Booking.com, which it published in an annex to the report (p. 92-93).

Expedia’s response first feigns innocence:

Expedia Group does not operate hotels, vacation rentals or travel products itself.  We allow any accommodation provider to sign up to our platform in accordance with laws applicable to Expedia Group.

It then thanks Amnesty in what appears to be boilerplate customer-service:

Expedia Group is committed to providing transparency to our customers when travelling to disputed territories globally and we appreciate Amnesty International bringing its concerns on this complex issue to our attention.  In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, we identify these accommodations as “Israeli Settlement” located in Palestinian Territory… The issues raised in your letter are an important input as we continue to assess the type of information we provide to our travelers.

Let’s not beat around the bush. This is not just about ‘information’ – it’s about withdrawing your listings. In any case, the claim that identifying a location as an “Israeli settlement” is exonerating, is confronted by Amnesty in the report section titled “Misleading advertising” (p. 77):

Allowing some properties and attractions to be listed as being in “Israel”, as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor do, not only deceives users, but also helps conceal information that can help reveal the illegal nature of the settlements. This can lead to customers inadvertently supporting illegal Israeli settlements. Describing them as located in an “Israeli settlement” or in “Palestinian Territories” is still only a partial truth. Users are still deprived of information revealing the critical fact that these properties have been built illegally on occupied Palestinian land. The failure to provide such important information is tantamount to misleading advertising, which is typically sanctioned under consumer protection laws.

Booking.com finally spoke, and like Expedia, started by claiming it is not involved in direct booking:

Booking. com does not buy or (re)sell any rooms nor does it operate as a travel or tourist agency.

Displaying shockingly bad taste, Booking.com continues on by promoting itself:

Our mission at Booking.com is to empower people to experience the world. The Booking.com website and mobile apps are available in over 40 languages, offer more than 28 million total reported listings, and cover more than 130,000 destinations in 228 countries and territories worldwide.

One would think that Booking.com copy pasted this from one of their advertisements. But this is serious – it’s an 96-page Amnesty International report with nearly 500 references, concerning violations of international law. This is no place to be bragging.

Like Expedia, Booking.com ends up claiming innocence because it writes “Israeli settlements”:

By marking properties concerned as being in ‘Israeli settlements’ we provide transparency to anybody looking (or not looking) for accommodations in these territories.

Right now, it is Airbnb which is taking the turn to keep silent, whereas TripAdvisor, with its wise-owl logo, is just playing the ostrich.

Israeli response

As we may have expected, Israel is ferocious. Maltz reports:

Minister Gilad Erdan said he had instructed the Strategic Affairs Ministry to examine the possibility of banning Amnesty personnel from entering and staying in Israel, saying the organization was promoting an anti-Semitic campaign. Erdan further said that he had approached the finance minister weeks ago with a request to end the organization’s tax benefits.

None of this is surprising. Although the Amnesty report is impressive, it is only a beginning. First we get the usual responses of trying-to-get-away-with-it from some companies, and silence from others; we get the usual hysteria from the Israeli government calling it anti-Semitic. But this is a process. It needs to result in action, which the companies will be unwilling to follow through with, since their complicity in crime is still assessed to give them profit.

Amnesty has made recommendations to the companies, as well as various involved governments (including Israel) and UN. Yet it has not made recommendations to consumers, as this is apparently not the mandate of Amnesty. But this is very much something that consumers all over the world need to be aware of. Since these companies are built on popular consumer participation, they can also be influenced by a consumer boycott. And that’s where you and me come into the picture.

 

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