israel’s war on Palestine’s food supplies: Palestinian farmers really have it rough

Small farmers struggle worldwide, but Palestinian farmers really have it rough


Fawzi Ibrahim, a Palestinian farmer, waited two months for the Israeli army to give him access to his wheat fields this year. He had only two days to try to plow and plant 50 acres of wheat, under the guard of Israeli army soldiers. The Israeli settlement of Esh Kodesh is behind him on the hill, and settlers watch from the road. (Anne-Marie O’Connor/For The Washington Post)

March 21

— Palestinian farmer Fawzi Ibrahim is proud of his heirloom corn, whose kernels ripen in iridescent shades of red, blue and gold like jewels.

But what makes it priceless are the obstacles he faces to grow his crops.

Small farmers struggle worldwide. But international experts say Palestinian farmers face disabling odds in the 60 percent of the West Bank that is under full Israeli control and is home to some 400,000 Jewish settlers.

As settler agricultural start-ups get prioritized access to water, export markets and development rights, the Israeli occupation is roiling the centuries-old pastoral life of Palestinian farmers, experts say, adding fuel to a conflict in which land is a trigger.

For years, Israeli settlers have chased Ibrahim’s tractor, threatened him, yelled at his Israeli soldier escorts, tried to burn his fields and warned that letting him farm would risk bloodshed, according to the Israeli group Rabbis for Human Rights.

Ibrahim must coordinate with the Israeli army because his land is in a security zone abutting Israeli outposts, the group said. But he and his lawyer waited eight weeks for permission to plant 50 acres of winter wheat in just two days, under the guard of two jeeploads of Israeli soldiers. A human rights worker and Israeli settlers looked on.

Ibrahim said he fears he will suffer thousands of dollars in farming losses again this year.

“They’re making us poor,” he said.

A recent U.N. report said the Israeli occupation has set off a “continuous process of de-agriculturization” in the Israeli-controlled West Bank, depriving the Palestinian economy of potential agriculture revenue of $700 million, by World Bank estimates, as Israeli settlers bar Palestinians from crops, grazing lands and springs.

The World Food Program is providing food assistance to 75,000 Palestinians in Area C, according to local spokesman Raphael du Boispean.

A December report by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said Israeli settlements have overtaken a half-million acres of former Palestinian lands in Israel-controlled Area C, which was placed under full Israeli control in 1990s accords. B’Tselem said 200,000 to 300,000 Palestinians live in Area C.

“What the Israeli settlers are doing in those areas is a disaster,” said Avshalom Vilan, executive director of Israel’s powerful Farmers Federation, a mainstream private farmers group. “They’re stealing from the lives of their Palestinian neighbors, and making their lives impossible.

“It’s in Israel’s interest for Palestinian farmers to work their land peacefully,” Vilan said. “We will all pay for this.”

Yishai Fleisher, the international spokesman of the Jewish settlement in Hebron, said that “life will be much easier for Palestinian farmers under a one-state solution, in which minorities are incorporated into the state of Israel.”

“Jews live in the settlements because they are the heartlands of the Bible and Jewish history,” Fleisher said. “Many of us are also in the settlements to thwart the two-state solution, because we think it’s wrong, unjust and dangerous.”

Spokesmen for the Israeli settlers’ Yesha Council, the Agriculture Ministry and the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment.

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit, or COGAT, said 5 percent of Palestinian fields “adjacent to Israeli villages” in the West Bank require Israeli permission and escorts “to ensure that their work goes undisturbed . . . while implementing their right to cultivate their land.”

COGAT said it provided 600 such escorts in 2016 for the Palestinian olive harvest, a target of Israeli settler attacks.

The Rand Corp. said settler attacks quadrupled from 2006 to 2014 and are “an important trigger of Palestinian retribution.”

A 2013 World Bank report said the agriculture contribution to the Palestinian economy declined by more than half in Area C in the past two decades, with Palestinians losing access to water and land, and less than 1 percent of land designated for Palestinian construction.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlement agriculture rose 35 percent, by World Bank estimates, with growing exports to Europe and Russia.

COGAT said Israelis provide training to Palestinian farmers and operators of a German-financed wastewater treatment plant, and oversaw the shipping of 113,000 tons of Palestinian produce outside the West Bank in 2016 — a tiny fraction, said Palestinian Authority official Marwan Durzi, of the export potential of 2.6 million tons of Palestinian agriculture.

Durzi said settler appropriation of springs forces Palestinian villagers to drastically reduce village herds, while Israeli authorities deny Palestinians permits for wells and cisterns and demolish nonpermitted irrigation.

Since most Palestinian families in Area C live partly on farming, “it’s crippling,” Durzi said.

Ibrahim was a scion of a prosperous family in the 1980s, when Israelis took 2,000 acres of family farmland and olive groves in the West Bank, ending his agronomy studies at Texas A&M University.

Israeli rights groups helped him recover 100 acres.

Ibrahim watches subsidized Israeli agriculture start-ups flourish on land he claims at Shvut Rachel, a Jewish outpost founded in the name of Rachela Druck, a settler killed in a 1991 Palestinian attack on a bus. Shvut Rachel’s most famous onetime resident, Jack Teitel, was convicted in 2013 for killing two Palestinians.

Alleged Hamas militants shot Israeli student Malachy Rosenfeld on the highway as he traveled through the area in 2015 — just a few miles from Ibrahim’s land.

In January, Israeli authorities indicted four Israeli settlers who lived on a hilltop near Ibrahim’s fields in Geulat Zion — once home to an Israeli accused of the 2015 firebomb killing of a Palestinian mother, father and baby in nearby Duma — after Israeli undercover police allegedly caught them going after Palestinian farmers with stones and truncheons.

Settlers “do what their government wants them to do,” Ibrahim said. “They want them to take the land.”

Ibrahim said his family once farmed alfalfa and barley on land seized for vineyards by the Esh Kodesh outpost, which has Israeli-supplied water.

But Aaron Katsof, an Esh Kodesh vintner   insisted that “there was nothing here.”

An Israeli court ordered a settler to clear his vineyards off a parcel of Ibrahim’s land by December 2015, and though the settler finally moved this year, he was convicted of kidnapping and beating a Palestinian shepherd, and Ibrahim says he is still afraid to reclaim the land.

Ibrahim remembers the days when younger Palestinians waited for the harvest to marry, and patriarchs lived well from the land.

To Ibrahim’s generation, he said, “land is life.”

Diabetes has forced him to rely on a cane, but Ibrahim said he is determined to end his days as a farmer.

“If I leave, they’ll take the land,” he said. “Then I’ll have nothing.”

Weekly report on israel’s terrorism against the State of Palestine (16-22 March 2017)

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 

Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

(16-22 March 2017)

 

  • Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
  • 3 civilians, including a child, and 2 Israeli activists, were wounded.
  • Israeli warplanes targeted two training sites for the Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported.
  • House Demolitions on grounds of collective punishment.
  • Israeli forces closed with cement the family house of Fadi Qunbor in al-Mukaber Mount, southeast of occupied Jerusalem.
  • Israeli forces continued to target the border areas in the Gaza Strip, resulting in the death of 4 sheep.
  • Israeli forces conducted 70 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one was conducted in the southern Gaza Strip.
  • 58 civilians, including 8 children, were arrested in the West Bank.
  • 5 of them, including 3 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs.
  • Among those arrested was a PLC Member.
  • Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem.
  • Two barracks for livestock and horses were demolished
  • Israeli forces continued their settlement activities in the West Bank.
  • Israeli settlers uprooted 75 olive seedlings, south of Nablus.
  • Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea.
  • Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 10th
  • Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians.
  • 6 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank.

 

 

Summary

Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (16-23 March 2017).

 

Shooting:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian children and wounded 3 others, including a child, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  Meanwhile, they wounded two Israeli activists in the West Bank.  In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces continued to chase Palestinian fishermen in the sea and open fire at the farmers in the border areas.  Moreover, the Israeli warplanes carried out many airstrikes against training sites belonging to the Palestinian armed groups.

 

In the West Bank, in a new crime of using excessive force, on 17 March 2017, Israeli forces stationed at the entrance to al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, a Palestinian child and seriously wounded another.  The shooting occurred from a distance of 10 meters after two boys threw two Molotov Cocktails at an Israeli military vehicle stationed near the Israeli watchtower established at the entrance to the camp. The Israeli soldiers opened fire at the Palestinian civilians who hurried to rescue the two children in order to hinder saving their lives.

 

On the same day, Israeli forces wounded a Palestinian civilian when they raided Sebastia village, northwest of Nablus, so a number of Palestinian children and youngsters gathered to throw stones at the Israeli vehicles.

 

On the same day as well, two Israeli activists were wounded while participating in Kafr Qaddoum weekly protest, northeast of Qalqilya.

 

In the Gaza Strip, in a new crime of excessive use of force, on 22 March 2017, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and seriously wounded a young man after firing artillery shells at them when both civilians were near the border fence with Israel in al-Shokah village, east of Rafah City.  PCHR’s investigations emphasized that the shelling incident violates the principle of necessity and distinction, the use of force was excessive, especially the victims were only civilians and unarmed.

 

In the context of airstrikes, on 16 March 2017, Israeli warplanes carried out 2 airstrikes against two training sites belonging to the Palestinian armed groups, north and west of the Gaza Strip.  As a result, the two sites sustained damages.  The airstrikes caused strong explosions that rocked the area, so civilians, especially women and children, were terrified.  However, no casualties were reported.

 

In the context of targeting border areas, On 18 March 2017, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between the Gaza Strip an Israel, fired an artillery shell at a vacant land, north of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.  As a result, 4 sheep grazing in the area were killed.

 

On the same day, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at agricultural lands in the villages of Khuza’ah and ‘Abasan.  No casualties were reported.

 

On 19 March 2017, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence opened fire at agricultural lands in al-Shokah village, east of Rafah City in the southern Gaza Strip.  No casualties were reported.

 

In the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea, On 17 March 2017, Israeli gunboats stationed off Rafah shore opened fire at the Palestinian fishing boat sailing there.  However, no casualties were reported.

 

On 22 March 2017, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, northwest of Beit Lahia village in the northern Gaza Strip, sporadically opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats and chased them. However, neither casualties nor material damages were reported.

 

Incursions:

 

During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 70 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and limited on into the Gaza Strip. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 58 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children. Five of them, including 3 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Among those arrested was a Member representing Hamas in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) identified as Mohammed al-Tol (60).

 

In the Gaza Strip, on 22 March 2017, Israeli forces moved into the eastern side of al-Qararah village, northeast of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. They leveled the lands adjacent to the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel after which they redeployed along the border fence.

 

House Demolitions on grounds of collective punishment

 

On 22 March 2017, Israeli forces moved into al-Mukaber Mount village, southeast of occupied Jerusalem, and stationed in al-Qunbor neighborhood.  They surrounded a house belonging to the family of Fadi Qunbor, and then a cement mixing truck arrived and poured cement inside the house.  The 2-stroey house used to shelter his wife and 4 children.  It should be mentioned that Israeli forces killed the aforementioned civilian on 08 January 2017 when he ran over a number of soldiers in a bus station near “Armon HaNetziv” settlement, which is established on the above-mentioned village lands.  As a result, a number of the soldiers were killed while the Israeli authorities so far keep al-Qunbor’s body in custody and refuse to hand it for burial.

Creating Jewish Majority in Occupied East Jerusalem:

 

In the context of house demolitions, on 11 March 2017, the Israeli Municipality demolished two barracks for horses and livestock belonging to Ayoub Shkeirat and Bassam Shkeirat in the village of Al-Mukaber Mount under the pretext of building without a permit.

 

Settlement Activities and settlers’ attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property:

 

In the context of Israeli settlers’ attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property, on 16 March 2017, Israeli settlers from “Yitsihar” settlement and under the Israeli forces’ protection attacked Burin Secondary School, south of Burin village, south of Nablus village, and threw stones at the school outside walls and iron fence.

 

On 17 March 2017, Israeli settlers uprooted 75 olive seedlings from a land belonging to Haitham Abu Kafanah in al-Wad area in the north-western side of al-Sawiyah village, south of Nablus.

 

On 18 March 2017, Israeli settlers from “Kiryat Arba” settlement, east of Hebron, threw stones at a vehicle belonging to ‘Aref Jaber (48) from Jaber neighbourhood.  As a result, the car’s windscreen was broken.

 

Restrictions on movement:

 

Israel continued to impose a tight closure of the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

 

The illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007 has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.  The Israeli authorities impose measures to undermine the freedom of trade, including the basic needs for the Gaza Strip population and the agricultural and industrial products to be exported. For 9 consecutive years, Israel has tightened the land and naval closure to isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and other countries around the world. This resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights and a deterioration of living conditions for 2 million people.  The Israeli authorities have established Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shaloum) as the sole crossing for imports and exports in order to exercise its control over the Gaza Strip’s economy.  They also aim at imposing a complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports. The Israeli closure raised the rate of poverty to 65%. Moreover, the rate of unemployment increased up to 47% and youth constitutes 65% of the unemployed persons.  Moreover, 80% of the Gaza Strip population depends on international aid to secure their minimum daily needs. These rates indicate the unprecedented economic deterioration in the Gaza Strip.

 

In the West Bank, Israeli forces continued to suffocate the Palestinian cities and village by imposing military checkpoints around and/or between them. This created “cantons” isolated from each other that hinders the movement of civilians. Moreover, the Palestinian civilians suffering aggravated because of the annexation wall and checkpoints erected on daily basis to catch Palestinians.

 

 

Details

  1. Incursions into Palestinian Areas, and Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

 

  • At approximately 00:30, Israeli warplanes targeted a site affiliated with Palestinian armed groups, southwest of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. The attack rocked the area and resulted in material damages at the site. The attack also caused fear among children and women, but no casualties were reported.

 

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Surif village, northwest of Hebron, and stationed in Baten al-Hawa area. They raided and searched a house belonging to Ahmed Sharif al-Hih (25) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Tubas. They raided and searched a number of houses, after which they arrested 3 civilians namely Mo’ath Khaled Ahmed Daraghmah (27), Loai Rashed Abdul Razeq Daraghmah (28) and Mohammed ‘Azem Daraghmah (20). The soldiers also raided and searched a house belonging to Moneer Basel Sawaftah (24) to arrest him, but he was not at home. Therefore, the soldiers arrested his mother and brothers as hostages until Moneer turned himself in at “Tayasir” checkpoint, east of the city. Basel Theeb Abdullah Sawaftah (54), Moneer’s father, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that:

“At approximately 03:00 on Thursday, 16 March 2017, I walk up on the sound of footsteps around my house, so I went to the living room in the second floor. Suddenly the door was opened and I heard a voice telling me: IDF, raise your hands. A number of soldiers then entered the living room as I turned on the lights. A soldier asked me who is in the house and ordered me to call for them to come. They then gathered us in the living room and asked me about my son Moneer (24). When I told the soldier that Moneer was not at home, he said that I have 10 minutes to bring him or he will damage the house contents. I told him that Moneer’s cell phone is not with him, but he did not care. Only 10 minutes later, the soldiers brought my sons, Qassam (26) and Mohammed (22), handcuffed. The Israeli soldiers then started to search the house and damage its contents until 05:00. An officer threatened me to arrest my wife Ebtesam Fayez Daraghmah (42) and my son Mohammed, but I told him to arrest me because we have a 2-year-old toddler, who needs his mother. The officer did not care and then arrested my wife and sons and gave me until 06:00 to bring Moneer to the abovementioned checkpoint. Few minutes after the Israeli forces left, Moneer came back and I told him what happened. He decided to turn himself in for his mother. Moneer, his uncle and I went to the abovementioned checkpoint where the soldiers arrested him and released his mother.”

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Tammon village, southeast of Tubas. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Abullah Jehad Tawfiq Bani ‘Oudah (28).

 

  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Zeta Jama’in village, southeast of Nablus. They raided and searched several houses after which they arrested Suleiman Eslam Saleh Zetawi (25).

 

  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Ethna village, west of Hebron, and stationed in ‘Aziz Valley area. They raided and searched a house belonging to Zaid Ahmed al-Masri (37) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 04:30, Israeli forces moved into al-Am’ari refugee camp, south of Ramallah. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested 3 civilians namely Ayman Ahmed Abu ‘Arab (41), his son Ahmed (20) and Yazan Abu Shalabayah (20).

 

  • At approximately 12:15, Israeli warplanes fired 2 missiles at a training site for al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas Movement), opposite to the Equestrian Club, southwest of Beit Lahia village in the northern Gaza Strip. As a result, the attack that rocked the area in the northern Gaza Strip, caused fear among women and children, but no casualties were reported.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (7) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: ‘Azzoun village, east of Qalqiliyah; Birzeit village and al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah; al-Samou’i and Beit Ummer, al-Rayhiyah and Tawous villages in Hebron.

 

Friday, 17 March 2017

 

  • At approximately 08:50, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing off Rafah shore, but no casualties were reported.

 

  • At approximately 16:00, Israeli forces moved into Sebastia village, northwest of Nablus. A number of child youngsters gathered and threw stones at the Israeli soldiers. The soldiers fired lived bullets at the youngsters in response. As a result, a 20-year-old civilian sustained a live bullet wound to the right foot and was taken to Rafedia Hospital. His condition was classified as minor.

 

  • In a new crime of excessive use of force, Israeli forces stationed at al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron killed a Palestinian child and seriously wounded another.

According to PCHR’s investigations and statements of eyewitnesses, at approximately 20:00, a number of children and youngsters were wandering in al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron adjacent to Bypass Road (60) where an Israeli watchtower is established. Two children approached the watchtower and threw Molotov Cocktails at a military vehicle stationed there. In the meantime, 3 soldiers stationed in a tinplate cabin at the entrance to the camp. When the soldiers stepped out, the two children ran away. The soldiers then fired 4 live bullets at them.  As a result, Murad Yusuf Mohammed Abu Ghazi (17) was hit with a bullet that entered his heart and exited his chest.  Ghazi ran for more than 40 meter and then fell on the ground. Meanwhile, Saif Saleem Rushdi (14) was hit with a live bullet that entered the back and exited the chest. Saif ran about 200 meters until he fell on the ground. A number of the neighborhood residents rushed to save Abu Ghazi’s life, but the soldiers opened fire at them to prevent them from reaching Abu Ghazi. After that, Dr. Jawad Abu ‘Awad and another civilian were able to reach him and took him to Dr. Ismail Abu Mahfouth Clinic while Abu Ghazi was still bleeding. The doctors could not offer first aid, so they transferred him via a private car on the road leading to Sa’ir village.  The entrance of the camp was closed, so they had to drive about 8 kilometers until they found a PRCS ambulance. The ambulance then transferred the two children to al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron. Abu Ghazi was announced dead, but Rushdi was admitted to the OR to undergo an urgent surgery. He is still in the intensive care unit. Eyewitnesses said to PCHR that the shooting was direct from less than 10 meters.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (5) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Qalqiliyah, Hablah, south of the city, al-‘Ouja village, north of Jericho, ‘Ein Yabrud village, northeast of Ramallah and al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of the city.

 

Saturday, 18 March 2017

 

  • At approximately 09:50, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel fired an artillery shell towards a vacant land adjacent to Abu Haloub agricultural land, north of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. The land is located about 2000 meters away to the southern side of the border fence. As a result, 4 sheep belonging to Mohammed Mat’an Suleiman Beli (60) died while grazing out of his farm, but neither casualties nor material damages were reported.

 

  • At approximately 14:00, following the funeral procession of Morad Abu Ghazi, who was killed the previous day by the Israeli forces, dozens of angry young men from al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli soldiers. The Israeli soldiers fired live bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters at the young men in response. As a result, a number of young men suffered tear gas inhalation. After that, the Israeli forces raided and searched the houses overlooking the camp and topped their roofs. Some of the houses’ owners were identified as Khader Sa’id Jawbrah, Ahmed Abdul Razeq Abu Kheiran, Na’im Hasan Jawabrah and Jawad Abdul Fattah Jawabrah.

 

  • At approximately 14:30, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between the Gaza strip and Israel, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at agricultural lands in Khuza’a and ‘Abasan al-Kabirah, west of the abovementioned border fence. The shooting sporadically continued for more than an hour, but no casualties were reported.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (9) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Beit Dajan, ‘Ourta, Beit Furik and Beta villages in Nablus, al-Samou’i, al-Thaheriyah an Ethna villages in Hebron, Kufur Qadoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah; Yasouf village, east of Salfit an Qarawet Bani Hassan village, west of the city.

 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

 

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Beit Fajjar village, southeast of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Moayad Salah Taqatqa (22).

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Husan village, west of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Hasan Ahmed Sabatin (22) and Yazan Mnawer Sabatin (21).

 

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Um Salamonah village, south of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a house belonging after which they arrested Jamil Ibrahim Taqatqa (18)

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah. They raided and searched 3 houses belonging to Mohammed Khaled Abu Helwa (21), Ibrahim Nedal Ibrahim Hattab (21) and Mohammed Nedal Ibrahim Hattab (19) and then arrested them.

 

  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into the southern area of Hebron. They raided and searched 2 houses belonging to Ma’moun Husain Salah al-Natshah (17) and Mohammed Hesham al-Ja’bari (17) and then arrested them.

 

  • At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved into al-Samou’i village, south of Hebron, and stationed in Safi neighbourhood near Abu Baker al-Seddiq. They raided and searched a 4-story building inhabited by Mohammed Khader al-Hawamdah and his 3 sons. The Israeli soldiers forced the four families to leave the house while they searched and then started searching it. They then arrested Mohammed and his 4 children; Khalil (33), ‘Ali (29), Yusuf (25) and Ahmed (22).

 

  • At approximately 10:30, Israeli forces accompanied with 2 military jeeps moved into Beta village, southeast of Nablus. They stationed near Beta Secondary School for Boys. A number of students, who were in front of the school, rushed inside it except ‘Enad Raghed ‘Enad al-Jaghub (17), who was slowly walking. A soldier called him and ordered him to set on his knees and put his hands on his head as they approached him, put him on the ground, searched him and took him to a jeep where they handcuffed him. An officer called ‘Enad’s father and introduced himself as “Robin”. He informed ‘Enad’s father that his son is detained for throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers. After an argument between the officer and ‘Enad’s father, the officer beat up the child. After that, the officer re-called the father and ordered him to come to the entrance of the village to take his son. ‘Enad’s father and a group of the village residents went to the abovementioned entrance and took his son. He then transferred him to Rafidia Governmental Hospital in Nablus to receive medical treatment for the bruises throughout his body.

 

  • At approximately 15:00, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel opened fire at agricultural lands in al-Shawkah village, east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Jenin; al-Thaheriyah an Ethna villages in Hebron.

 

Monday, 20 March 2017

 

  •  At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Abu Sunienah neighbourhood, east of Jenin. They raided and searched a house belonging to Naser Mahmoud Abu Sunienah (30) and handed him a summons to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Service, the Shabak, in “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of Bethlehem.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into the ‘Ein al-Sultan refugee camp, west of Jericho. They raided and searched a house belonging to Wadi’ ‘Essa Jebril Manasrah (18) and then arrested him.

 

  •  At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved into ‘Azoun village, east of Qalqiliyah. They raided and searched a house belonging to ‘Oudai Hasan Abu Haniyah (25) and then arrested him.

 

  • Round the same time, Israeli forces moved in Marj Na’jah village, north of Jericho. They raided and searched a house belonging to Saleh Ibrahim Nemr Sawarkah (23) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 03:30, Israeli forces moved into Yatta, south of Tulkarm, and stationed in al-Karmel neighbourhood. They raided and searched a house belonging to Thaer ‘Ali Daqamesh (28) and handed him a summons to refer to the Israeli Service, the Shabak, in “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of Bethlehem.

 

  • At approximately 05:00, Israeli forces moved into Birzeit village, north of Ramallah. They raided and searched a house belonging to Estabraq Yahyah al-Tamimi (22) and then arrested her. It should be noted that Estabraq was a former member of the Student Union in Birzeit University.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (6) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Tarqumiya village and Halhoul in Hebron; Shaqba village in Ramallah;  Bedia and al-Zawiyah villages, west of Salfit.

 

Tuesday, 20 March 2017

 

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into al-Thaheriyah village, south of Heron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed Ismail al-Tal (60), a PLC Member representing the Reform an Change Bloc of Hamas Movement, and then arrested him. They later withdrew taking him to an unknown destination.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces move into Deir Abu Mash’al village, northwest of Ramallah. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Murad Suleiman Ibrahim ‘Ata (17).

 

  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Jenin. They raided and searched several houses and then arrested Abdul Rahman Fathi Zedan Khazem (22) and Mahmoud Saleh Shraim (20)

 

  • At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved into Yatta, south of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Ahmed Sharefi al-Najjar and then arrested his son Mokhles (16) and his wife Tamara al-Zain (44).

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into ‘Aboud village, northwest of Ramallah. They raided and searched several houses after which they arrested Mohammed Rashad Husain al- Barghouthi (37), Mohammed ‘Essam al- Barghouthi (20)

 

  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into al-Zababdah village, southeast of Jenin. They raided and searched several houses after which they arrested Mustafa Shrqawi (19) and Hammam Najeh Mur’i Sharqawi (19).

 

  • At approximately 05:30, Israeli forces moved into Kafel Hares village, north of Salfit. They raided and searched a number of houses after which they arrested Khalil Foad Khalil Abu Ya’qoub (22) and Ahmed ‘Ali Saleh (21). They also handed ‘Ali Mahmoud Abdul Hamid al-Qaq (24) a summons to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Service.

 

  • In the evening, Israeli forces moved into Silwad village, northeast of Ramallah. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Bilal Abdul Majeed Ahmed Hammad (27) and Nader Abdul Ghani Mobarak (54).

 

  • At approximately 23:30, Israeli forces moved into Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Hasan Rebhi Nafe’a (23).

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (4) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: al-Samou’i, Surif, Deir al-‘Asal villages and al-‘Aroub refugee camp in Hebron.

 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

 

  • In a new crime of excessive use of force, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and seriously wounded a young man after firing artillery shells at them when both civilians were near the border fence with Israel in al-Shokah village, east of Rafah City. PCHR’s investigations emphasized that the shelling incident violates the principle of necessity and distinction during which the use of force was excessive, especially the victims were only civilians and unarmed.

According to PCHR’s investigations and the testimony of an eyewitness, at approximately 00:00, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence off al-Nahdah neighborhood in al-Shokah village, east of Rafah City, fired around 15 artillery shells at 3 Palestinian civilians, who were only 300 meters away from the above-mentioned fence.  According to the eyewitness, those civilians intended to sneak into Israel for work.  The artillery shells directly hit one of them namely Yousif Sha’ban Ahmed Abu ‘Azrah (16), from al-Shabourah refugee camp in Rafah City, to the upper part of his body.  Meanwhile, Mohammed Wahid ‘Atallah al-‘Akar (25), from Yibna refugee camp in Rafah, sustained shrapnel wounds to the chest and abdomen.  The child died on the spot while al-‘Akar was transferred to the European Hospital in Khan Younis due to his serious wounds.  The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the Palestinian Liaison told the PRCS they received information from the Israeli Liaison there is a dead body in the aforementioned area.  The PRCS immediately headed to the scene to find the child’s dead body 300 meters away from the fence while they found al-‘Akar lying around 500 meters away from the fence.

 

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Beit Sera village, west of Ramallah. They raided and searched a number of houses then arrested ‘Ali Ahmed Nemer Khetab (20).

 

  •  At approximately 03:15, Israeli forces moved into Beit Sahour and stationed in the area of Engineers” Housing project. They raided and searched a 3-story building inhabited by 2 families of ‘Esam Qamisah (57) and Sami (60) after breaking the main doors. The soldiers locked the 2 families in one room and questioned them. The Israeli forces later withdrew, but no arrests were reported.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into al-Jalazone refugee camp, north of Ramallah. They raided and searched several houses and then arrested Mohammed Saleh Hassunah (50).

 

  • At approximately 05:30, Israeli forces moved into al-Jaftalak village, north of Jericho. They raided and searched a number of houses after which they arrested Abdullah Fouad Tariq (23). Seven hours later, the Israeli forces released him.

 

  • At approximately 06:30, Israeli forces accompanied with a car of the Civil Administration moved into Kherbet Bzaiq in the northern Jordan Valley, east of Tubas. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Mahmoud Mohammed ‘Ali Nassrallah al-Haroub (24). They confiscated a tractor belonging to Mohammed al-Haroub. They also confiscated a car belonging to Hayel Husain Mahmoud Turkman and took both vehicles to Nahal” military camp in al-Maleh area.

 

  • At approximately 07:15, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles and chased them. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee for fear of their lives. The shooting recurred until 09:00, but no casualties were reported.

 

  • At approximately 07:20, Israeli forces accompanied with military jeeps moved about 100 meters into the east of al-Qararah, north east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. They conducted leveling and digging along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel for hours and then redeployed along the abovementioned border.

 

  • Use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrations protesting settlement activities and the construction of the annexation wall

 

West Bank:

 

  • At approximately 12:40, on Friday, 17 March 2017, Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organized a protest in the center of Kufor Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah, and then made their way to the eastern entrance of the village in protest against closing that entrance since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada with an iron gate. When the protesters approached the entrance, Israeli forces fired live bullets, metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, 2 Israeli activists (not identified) were hit with 2 metal bullets to the hand and face.

 

  • Following the Friday prayer, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organized demonstrations in Bil’in and Nil’in villages, west of Ramallah and al-Nabi Saleh, northwest of the city; at the entrance to al-Jaalzone refugee camp, north of the city; and in Kafer Qadoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah, protesting against the annexation wall and settlement activities. Israeli forces forcibly dispersed the protests, firing live and metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs. They also chased the protesters into olive fields and between houses. As a result, many of the protesters suffered tear gas inhalation while others sustained bruises due to being beaten up by the Israeli soldiers.

  House Demolition on Grounds of Collective Punishment

 

  • On Wednesday morning, 22 March 2017, Israeli forces accompanied with large numbers of border guards, police officers and Intelligence officers moved into al-Mukaber Mount village, southeast of Jerusalem and stationed in al-Qunbor neighborhood. The soldiers surrounded a house belonging to Fadi Ahmed Hamdan Qunbor and close the roads to it. They also prevented the vehicles and civilians from entering the main street in the neighborhood. Following that, the a cement mixer truck arrived at the area and began pouring the cement inside the abovementioned house. The house is comprised of two floors; the first of which is comprised of a room, bathroom and kitchen while the second is comprised of a living room in which Qanbar’s wife and 4 children (the eldest son is 7 years old and the youngest is 9 months) lived. It should be noted that on 08 January 2017, Israeli forces killed Fadi Qanabr (28) after he ran over Israeli soldiers, who were at a bus station near “Armon HaNetziv” settlement established on the lands of the abovementioned village. He killed a number of them, and his body is still under the Israeli custody.

The Israeli forces previously took punitive measures. In a dangerous precedent, on Tuesday, 10 January 2017, the family of Fadi al-Qunbar received orders to suspend their residencies (withdrawing the blue IDs), in addition to cancelling family reunion applications of other relatives following the run-over attack carried out by Fadi in “Armon Hanatziv” settlement. Fadi’s family said to PCHR’s fieldworker that Israeli forces raided Fadi’s family house and handed them 12 orders issued by the Israeli Interior Minister to suspend the residency and reunion applications of several family members, The people who received such orders are:

  • Menwa Qunbar- Fadi’s mother: A decision to suspend her residency in Jerusalem.
  • Suha Qunbar- Fadi’s sister: A decision to suspend her residency in Jerusalem.
  • Murad Aweisat- Suha’s husband: A decision to cancel his “reunion” application as well as cancelling the reunion applications and residency of their two children (Nagham 11, and Wadi’a, 17).
  • Dia’ Aweisat (21)-Fadi’s nephew (Hind’s son): A decision to suspend his residency and cancel his “reunion” application.
  • Manal Qunbar- Fadi’s sister in law (Sami’s wife): A decision to suspend her residency and cancel his “reunion” application.
  • Ahmad Hussein Qunbar- Fadi’s cousin.
  • Mohammad Hussein Qunbar- Fadi’s cousin.
  • Salah Hussein Qunbar- Fadi’s cousin.
  • Zakaria Hussein Qunbar- Fadi’s cousin.
  • Younes Hussein Qunbar- Fadi’s cousin.
  1. Continued closure of the oPt

 

Israel continued to impose a tight closure on the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

 

Gaza Strip

 

Israeli forces continuously tighten the closure of the Gaza Strip and close all commercial crossings, making the Karm Abu Salem crossing the sole commercial crossing of the Gaza Strip, although it is not suitable for commercial purposes in terms of its operational capacity and distance from markets.

Israeli forces have continued to apply the policy, which is aimed to tighten the closure on all commercial crossings, by imposing total control over the flow of imports and exports.

 

Israeli forces have continued to impose a total ban on the delivery of raw materials to the Gaza Strip, except for very limited items and quantities. The limited quantities of raw materials allowed into Gaza do not meet the minimal needs of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

 

Israeli forces also continued to impose an almost total ban on the Gaza Strip exports, including agricultural and industrial products, except for light-weighted products such as flowers, strawberries, and spices. However, they lately allowed the exportation of some vegetables such as cucumber and tomatoes, furniture and fish.

 

Israel has continued to close the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing for the majority of Palestinian citizens from the Gaza Strip. Israel only allows the movement of a limited number of groups, with many hours of waiting in the majority of cases. Israel has continued to adopt a policy aimed at reducing the number of Palestinian patients allowed to move via the Beit Hanoun crossing to receive medical treatment in hospitals in Israel or in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel also continued applying the policy of making certain civilian traveling via the crossing interviewed by the Israeli intelligence service to be questioned, blackmailed or arrested

The UN’s moral failure on israeli apartheid

The UN’s moral failure on Israeli apartheid

Apartheid - wrong for South Africans and wrong for Palestinians

By Lawrence Davidson

Moral failure

On 15 March 2017 the United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) published a report on Israeli practices and policies toward the Palestinians. Using international law as its comparative criterion, the report came to a “definitive conclusion” that “Israel is guilty of apartheid practices.” The term apartheid was not used in the report merely in a “pejorative” way. It was used as a descriptor of fact based on the evidence and the accepted legal meaning of the term.

Such was the immediate uproar from the United States and Israel that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in a moment of moral failure, ordered the report’s withdrawal. The head of ESCWA, the Jordanian diplomat Rima Khalaf, decided that she could not, in good conscience, do so and so tendered her resigation.

Reportage

The initial New York Times (NYT) coverage of the incident paid little attention to the accuracy of the report, an approach which, if pursued, would have at least educated the newspaper’s readers as to the real conditions of Palestinians under Israeli domination. Instead, it called the report, and those involved in producing it, into question. For instance, the NYT told us that “the report provoked outrage from Israel and the United States”. The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki R. Haley, was quoted as declaring that, “when someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the UN it is appropriate that the person resign”. At no point in the NYT story was it noted that Ms Haley’s charge that the report was false, was itself false. Other coverage by the NYT improved only slightly.

The NYT did pay attention to the fact that, among the authors of the report, was former UN human rights investigator Richard Falk. Falk served six years as UN spacial rapporteur for the occupied territories. According to the NYT, his presence had to “gall[ed] many Israeli supporters who regard him as an anti-Semite”. There is something troubling about a newspaper that claims to represent the epitome of professional journalism reporting such slurs without properly evaluating them. Richard Falk, who is Jewish, has an impeccable record of both academic achievement and public service. His reputation for honesty and dedication to the cause of human rights exemplifies the best practice of Jewish values. Thus, he has every right to say that “I have been smeared in this effort to discredit the report” – a study which “tries its best to look at the evidence and analyse the applicable law in a professional manner”.

Israel’s behaviour

An objective consideration of Israel’s behaviour makes it hard to escape the brutal reality of its officially condoned practices.

On 17 March 2017, at the same time as the forced withdrawal of the ESCWA report, the US State Department released a report on “grave violations against Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation”. This was part of the department’s annual “country reports on human rights practices”. Among the problems cited were Israel’s practice of unlawful detention, coerced confessions and excessive use of force, including torture and killings.

Usually these annual human rights reports are made public by the secretary of state. This year Rex Tillerson, who presently holds the office, was nowhere in sight. And, of course, President Trump failed to issue any of his characteristic tweets in reference to the Israel’s barbaric behaviour.

Earlier, on 8 February 2017, it was reported that “Israel has banned anesthesia gas from entering the Gaza Strip.” There is a current backlog of some 200 patients in Gaza requiring surgical care, and some will die due to Israel’s ban.

A week later, on 14 February 2017, it was reported that Israeli officials were blackmailing Palestinian patients seeking permission to enter Israel for necessary medical treatment. A 17-year-old Gazan boy who suffered from congenital heart disease and needed a heart valve replacement “was explicitly told that in order to [leave the Gaza Strip and] have his operation, he would have to cooperate with the security forces and spy for Israel”. He refused and subsequently died. This is not a new or unusual tactic for the Israelis.

Blackmail all around

The moral failure at the UN, represented by the withdrawal of the ESCWA report, is the result of Secretary-General Guterres’s decision to acquiesce in a denial of reality – the reality of Israel’s practice of apartheid.

On the other hand, it probably also stems from Guterres’s acceptance of the reality of US financial leverage along with the apparent threat to bankrupt the UN. This is, of course, a form of blackmail. Significantly, US use of its financial clout at the UN mimics the same practice by the Zionist lobby in the halls of Congress.

Obviously, the UN, to say nothing of US politicians, needs alternate sources of income. My wife Janet once suggested that the UN be awarded the right to exploit and profit from all undersea resources. Not a bad idea. Likewise, US politicians should agree to, or be forced to rely upon, government-based campaign funding rather than be pressed into putting themselves up for sale.

However, such changes do not appear imminent. As it stands now, reality in Palestine is what the Americans and Israelis say it is because politicians and international leaders literally can’t afford to challenge their corrupted views.

Brave but stupid talk from Netanyahu “israeli airstrikes in Syria will continue”

Netanyahu to Putin: Israeli airstrikes in Syria will continue

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Israeli forces will continue airstrikes in Syria if they deem it necessary.

“If there is feasibility from an intelligence and military standpoint – we attack and so it will continue,” Netanyahu said during a visit to China, adding that he had informed Putin of Israel’s intentions.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli PM also dismissed reports that Russia was insisting that Israel cease its military operations on Syrian territory.

On Monday, Syrian President Bashar Assad told visiting Russian MPs that he is counting on Russia to prevent further Israeli attacks on Syrian soil and to help Damascus avoid a full-blown conflict with Tel Aviv.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador to Moscow, Gary Koren, to demand explanations for the airstrikes Israel conducted near the Syrian city of Palmyra on Friday morning. Israeli Defence Force (IDF) warplanes hit several targets near Palmyra, allegedly destroying advanced arms provided to the Lebanese militant movement Hezbollah.

Syria’s air defense force fired anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli planes as they were returning to base. Syrian media reported that one plane was downed, while Israel denied any losses.

Israel also said that it shot down one of the interceptor missiles with its Arrow long-range SAMs, which saw the first-ever use of the system in battle.

After the incident, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened that “next time, if the Syrian aerial defense apparatus acts against our planes, we will destroy it.”

READ MORE: Syria claims Israeli jet shot down after strike near Palmyra, IDF says all aircraft undamaged

In January, Damascus accused Tel Aviv of bombing the Mezzeh military airport west of the country’s capital. The airport was rocked by multiple explosions, with ambulances rushing to the scene.

The IDF has violated Syrian air space on a number of occasions, even before the conflict broke out in the country back in 2011.

Possibly the most infamous incident occurred in 2007 when an alleged Israeli raid destroyed a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor governorate.

The International Community Must Bring an End to israel’s Illegal Occupation of Palestine

The International Community Must Bring an End to Israel’s Illegal Occupation of Palestine

By Edu Montesanti

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Established 28 years ago by a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists, and Knesset members, B’Tselem, in Hebrew “in the image of,” is an Israeli human rights organization which endeavors to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, combat the phenomenon of denial prevalent among the Israeli public, and help create a human rights culture in Israel.

Independent and funded by contributions from foundations in Europe and North América, B’Tselem The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories acts primarily to change Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories and ensure that its government, which rules the Occupied Territories, protects the human rights of residents there and complies with its obligations under international law.

Edu Montesanti speaks to Amit Gilutz, B’Tselem spokesman, on the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

“We welcome (UN) resolution 2334 [condemning the Israeli settlements, voted last December]“, Amit says.

Below is the talk with B’Tselem spokesman.

Edu Montesanti: Would you please tell about B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights  in the Occupied Territories? How exactly does it work, and what have the organization got for justice and a solution towards the so long Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands?

Amit GilutzB’Tselem - The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, was founded in 1989 by a group of journalists, academics, lawyers, and MK Members, during the height of the first Intifada, when there was need of accurate and verifiable information about events in the occupied territories.

Until this day we are primarily an information and research center; we document, analyze and publish violations of human rights occurring under the Israeli military occupation, now in its fiftieth year.

Our end goal is to close our offices, once the occupation -a grave and fundamental human right violation in and of itself-ends.

Edu Montesanti: How do you see the meeting between President Donald Trump and Prime-Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on February 15? “I’m looking at two-state and one-state” formulations, Mr. Trump said during a White House news conference with Mr. Netanyahu. “I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one”? Many say that President Trump has “killed” two-state solution in that speech…

Amit Gilutz: B’Tselem is not invested in a particular political formulation for ending the occupation, so long as it upholds the human rights and dignity of all people. We follow the developments and statements of the Trump administration and fear that the same trends we’ve been seeing will continue or escalate by an emboldened extreme right Israeli government.

2016 for example, saw a record high number of home demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and from what we are seeing currently, 2017 is on the same path or worse, with whole communities facing the risk of expulsion, to make room for Israeli settlements’ expansion.

Regardless of Trump however, the Israeli policy of settlement construction and expansion, while fragmenting Palestinian space into 165 enclaves that cannot thrive, and an ongoing occupation not designed to ever end, has been wholly consistent.

Edu Montesanti: What do you think of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 voted on December 23 last year, condemning the Israeli settlements as a flagrant violation of international law and a major impediment to the achievement of a two-state solution?

Amit GilutzWe welcome resolution 2334 and hope it will be followed up by decisive action from the international community to bring an end to the occupation.

There’s a huge power disparity between Israel and the Palestinians, and lack of political will on part of Israel to change that brings not simply stagnation, but rather, the occupation becoming more and more entrenched as time goes by.

israel: America’s Mad Dog in Syria

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By Tony Cartalucci

NEO” – Israel has played an increasingly provocative role in the destructive conflict unfolding within and along Syria’s borders since 2011. To many observers, it appears Israeli policy borders between opportunistic and unilateral aggression. In reality, Israel’s role in the Syrian conflict fits a much larger and long-term pattern with Anglo-American plans not only for Syria but for the entire region.

 

A more recent row between Israel and Syria was the reported incursion of Israeli warplanes into Syrian airspace, including attacks near the eastern Syrian city of Palmyra. Palmyra hosts an ongoing battle between Syrian forces and the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) terrorist organization. Israeli airstrikes against Syrian forces – then – would have facilitated ISIS operations in the region.

Israel is a State Sponsor of Terror, Not a Champion Against it

Israel has existed as a nation-sized, defacto forward operating base for Anglo-American interests since its creation in the 20th century. It has pursued aggressive regional policies that have intentionally pitted itself against its neighbors as a means of maintaining a Western foothold and point of leverage in North Africa and the Middle East for decades.

Ongoing conflicts between Israel and Palestine are fueled by an orchestrated strategy of tension between a manipulated Israeli population and controlled opposition – Hamas – politically backed, armed, and funded by Israel’s own regional collaborators including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

When proxy military operations began against the Syrian state in 2011 under the cover of the US-engineered “Arab Spring,” Israel along with Jordan and Turkey, played a direct role in backing militants and undermining Damascus.

While Jordan has played a more passive role, and Turkey a more direct role in facilitating proxy militant forces, Israel has played the role of “unilateral provocateur.” While Turkish, US, and other “coalition” forces are unable to directly attack Syrian forces, Israel – posing as a unilateral regional player – can and has done so regularly since 2012.

CNN in its article, “Israeli jets strike inside Syria; military site near Palmyra reportedly targeted,” would note:

In November 2012, Israel fired warning shots toward Syria after a mortar shell hit an Israeli military post, the first time Israel had fired on Syria across the Golan Heights since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Israeli jets have been striking targets in Syria since at least 2013, when US officials told CNN they believed IDF jets had hit targets inside Syrian territory.

CNN would also report:

Israeli strikes may have gone as far inside Syria as the capital. In 2014, the Syrian government and an opposition group both said an IDF strike had hit Damascus’ suburbs and airport.

And while Israeli politicians and military officials claim their aggression seeks to stop the transfer of weapons to terrorist organizations, organizations they deem as “terrorist” are in fact the sole forces within Syria fighting actual, internationally recognized terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda, its  various subsidiaries and affiliates, as well as the Islamic State itself.

Paradoxically, these genuinely terrorist organizations have existed along Israel’s border enjoying defacto protection from Israeli forces from Syrian military operations.

Israel’s Role as America’s “Mad Dog” is No Secret 

Israel’s geopolitical role as “unilateral mad dog” has been a matter of stated US policy since at least the 1980s – and in specific reference to America’s repeated attempts to undermine and overthrow the Syrian state amid much larger objectives aimed at Iran and the region as a whole.

A 1983 document – part of a deluge of recently declassified papers released to the public – signed by former CIA officer Graham Fuller titled, “Bringing Real Muscle to Bear Against Syria” (PDF), states (their emphasis):

Syria at present has a hammerlock on US interests both in Lebanon and in the Gulf — through closure of Iraq’s pipeline thereby threatening Iraqi internationalization of the [Iran-Iraq] war. The US should consider sharply escalating the pressures against Assad [Sr.] through covertly orchestrating simultaneous military threats against Syria from three border states hostile to Syria: Iraq, Israel and Turkey. 

The report also states:

If Israel were to increase tensions against Syria simultaneously with an Iraqi initiative, the pressures on Assad would escalate rapidly. A Turkish move would psychologically press him further. 

In 2009, US corporate-financier funded policy think tank, the Brookings Institution, would publish a lengthy paper titled, “Which Path to Persia?: Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran” (PDF), in which, once again, the use of Israel as an apparently “unilateral aggressor” was discussed in detail.

Of course, a US policy paper describing planned Israeli aggression as part of a larger US-driven conspiracy to attack, undermine, and ultimately overthrow the Iranian state reveals there is nothing “unilateral” at all about Israel’s regional policy or its military operations.

In 2012, the Brookings Institution would publish another paper titled, “”Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change” (PDF), which stated:

Some voices in Washington and Jerusalem are exploring whether Israel could contribute to coercing Syrian elites to remove Asad. 

The report continues by explaining:

Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. 

Once again, the use of Israel as one of several regional provocateurs executing policy as part of a larger US-orchestrated conspiracy is openly discussed.

As each Israeli incursion into Syria unfolds – regardless of the details, claims, and counterclaims made regarding each incursion – it should be analyzed within the context of US interests, not “Israeli” interests.  And regardless of the details of each incursion, the ultimate purpose is to escalate the conflict continuously until Syria and its allies react and provoke a much larger, direct military conflict the US and others amid its axis of aggression can openly participate in.

It should be noted that in Brookings’ 2009 paper, “Which Path to Persia?,” using Israeli attacks to provoke an Iranian response and thus justify direct US military intervention involving everything from an air campaign against Tehran to a full-scale US invasion and occupation were among the centerpieces of the policy paper.

It is clear that an identical policy is now being pursued against Syria. Unveiling the true nature of Israel’s incursions into Syria and resisting the temptation to escalate the conflict further is key to confounding US designs and rendering the provocations of its proxies – including Israel and Turkey – moot.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Russia Told israel Freedom to Act in Syrian Airspace Is Over

Syrian Envoy: Russia Told Israel Freedom to Act in Syrian Airspace Is Over

Says Russia Summoned Israeli Envoy to Tell Him ‘This Game Is Over’

Russia responded to Israeli airstrikes against Syria on Friday by summoning the Israeli Ambassador. According to Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari, President Vladimir Putin told Israel in no uncertain terms that their freedom to act in Syrian airspace is now over.

Throughout the Syrian Civil War, Israel has repeatedly attacked Syrian military targets. Since Russia’s involvement, Israel had made a point to carefully keep the lines of communication open with Russia. It’s unclear exactly why, but the indications are that the Friday attack was very different, and a game-changer on several fronts.

The Friday air raid led Syria to fire defensive missiles at the warplanes, and for Russia to summon the ambassador, two things that never happened before. Though the results of that aren’t totally clear, Israel launched at least one more attack on Sunday, and has been issuing statements insisting they intend to keep attacking Syria, and that Syria had better not put up any further resistance to the attacks.

That Russia apparently did not react to the Sunday strike makes the Syrian Ambassador’s take on the Friday summoning a bit confusing, and the Israeli Foreign Ministry has been quick to insist that there was no second summoning.

What this all means is anyone’s guess, but Israel probably would not keep threatening to attack Syria if Russia had actually vowed to deny them access to Syrian airspace, as Russia’s deployment of anti-aircraft systems into Syria would make this fairly easy for them to implement against Israel. At the same time, Russia clearly didn’t summon the Israeli Ambassador for no reason, hinting that there may be limitations to future attacks, at the very least.

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