Gaza cut off: Israel closes border crossings indefinitely

http://rt.com/news/201579-israel-gaza-border-crossing/

Palestinians walk past trucks loaded with gravel at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip  (Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Palestinians walk past trucks loaded with gravel at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip (Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Israel has said it’s shutting the only two operating Gaza border crossings indefinitely. This comes a day after a projectile hit Israel from the strip, but caused no damage. Border closures threaten to isolate already devastated Gaza completely.

READ MORE: Inquiry launched into Israeli attacks on UN Gaza schools

The move will affect both the Kerem Shalom and Erez border crossings, Haartez reported, quoting Israel’s defense establishment. The authorities have notified the Palestinians of the decision.

Meanwhile, the three other crossings into Gaza are still not operational and the passage from the area into Egypt – the Rafah crossing – remains closed.

From now on and until further notice, only critical humanitarian aid going into Gaza will be allowed via the Erez crossing.

The news comes after the Iron Dome defense system detected a projectile fired from Gaza overnight on Friday. There was no damage reported and no one has claimed responsibility for the incident.

“Overnight a rocket or mortar launched from Gaza struck southern Israel. No damage or injuries reported,” Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said on Twitter.

It was not immediately clear if Israel’s move on Sunday was connected to the incident.

READ MORE: International effort raises $5.4 billion for Gaza

Meanwhile, Egypt has stepped up its plans to create a buffer zone on the Gaza border, in Cairo’s ongoing campaign against underground tunnels dug from the restive Sinai Peninsula, Ynet News reported. In Rafah, buildings are being demolished, while some of the local residents are leaving, fearing a new escalation of violence in the region.

Border closures threaten to cut off Gaza from much-needed humanitarian aid, which could make a dire situation in the area even worse. The Gaza Strip requires substantial rebuilding after Israel’s 50-day Operation Protective Edge this summer left much of its infrastructure in ruins.

READ MORE: ‘18,000 homes destroyed in Gaza, tens of thousands lack facilities to go back home’ – UN

An American Jew in Palestine

Steven Davidson's summer taught him that peacetime and wartime in Palestine aren't a whole lot different.

Steven Davidson / The Chronicle

Steven Davidson’s summer taught him that peacetime and wartime in Palestine aren’t a whole lot different.

HEBRON, Palestine—I recall the sermons in my religious services growing up. During the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, there were always calls for peace and prayers for Israel. A country symbolizing the triumphant conclusion to centuries of persecution, Israel was the home to my people—the Jews. And they had waited so long to return. It wasn’t until this summer in which I had the honor of doing so. Although I began my trip under the normal auspices of going on Birthright, my trip took me far from the comforts of Israel, into a land where few Jews go—Palestine.

Preparing to leave from Tel Aviv, I was nervous for the two months ahead. I had just finished participating in the Birthright program. After listening to the Israeli narrative of this land for two weeks, I was ready to see the other side that had been kept from me and other Jews for so long. Mentions of the West Bank were sparse during Birthright, and when it was discussed, the narrative seemed incomplete. I had loved my connection with the Land of Israel—the land of my origins. However, I was disturbed by the way people connected the Land of Israel with the State of Israel—the actions and policies of the current government—without true inner contemplation. Political doctrine was presented as fact.

Now I was going to the black part of the map.

Steven Davidson / The Chronicle

I craved to see Palestine with my own eyes, but knew so little about the land. Before I went to teach English to Palestinians and work for an Nongovernmental organization in Hebron, I tried to research the Palestinian culture. But Google searches only yielded news clippings of terrorist attacks and violent clashes. All I had heard from Israelis about Palestinians was their supposed poor taste in clothing. As I crossed the Green Line to enter the West Bank, life in Palestine was a complete and anxious unknown.

So how did a Jew from New York survive in a place in which the Anti-Defamation League found 93 percent of the population to be anti-Semitic? Aside from a group of trusted people, everyone in the West Bank thought I was Christian.

The situation I discovered while living in Hebron in the West Bank for more than two months was shocking. Living there during times of peace (relatively speaking), a kidnapping and ensuing operation and ultimately war, I witnessed all the stages of the occupation. I witnessed inhumane horrors at the hands of what I had been told for so long was a benevolent government. They were horrors I had not anticipated to be so blatant in their nature and so extensive in their practice. Yet, the comforting light at the end of my journey was to have the opportunity to meet the people there who—in spite of their traumatic lives—only showed me love and hospitality.

There I was, on the other side of one of the biggest conflicts in world history, and all these people showed me was kindness. There was the husband and wife who, after feeding me to no end (an all-too-common occurrence), sent me on my way with a bag of peaches. The father, peering around the room, handed me an energy drink, desperate to give me anything. In one afternoon alone, four separate people on the street invited me to dinner that night. There was the taxi driver who took it upon himself to leave his shift to show me around the Old City and reveal all the secrets his town had to offer, and the restaurateur who took me in as I sought to break fast during Ramadan. As I finished the three-course Iftar, I asked him how much it would cost. He looked at me and replied, “No, Islam,” as he pointed to the sky.

These were people who often worked upward of 11 or 12 hours in a day to make not much money at all, and yet, here they were paying for my drinks, treating me to dinner and doing everything they can to make me feel welcome.

So how did a Jew from New York survive in a place in which the Anti-Defamation League found 93 percent of the population to be anti-Semitic? Aside from a group of trusted people, everyone in the West Bank thought I was Christian. I was racked with guilt of lying to people who had been so kind to me, yet I knew that if the wrong person had found out my background, there could be grave repercussions.

Wars do not happen without a systematic dehumanization of your enemy. In Palestine, this dehumanization is the same in peacetime as it is in the throws of battle.

Ultimately, my identity would not have made a difference with most people. In conversations I had, people repeatedly stated to me that they were not anti-Semitic—they were only anti-Zionist. They emphasized all the two Abrahamic religions shared, and they always mentioned the American Jews who voiced opposition to Israeli occupation. The picture I was viewing was vastly different than the one that had been painted for me when I was younger. I realized that statistics like the ADL’s was the result of equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Even when I encountered anti-Semitism, which I will never condone, I knew it was the product of experiences that span far beyond my 21 years on this earth. Their fleeting interactions with Jews have often ended staring down the barrel of a gun.

Wars do not happen without a systematic dehumanization of your enemy.

In Palestine, this dehumanization is the same in peacetime as it is in the throws of battle. The Palestinians live under military rule.

Israel Defense Forces soldiers can effectively do as they please. Even places Palestinians are technically allowed to go would sometimes be off-limits. I listened as my friend told me how his ability to go to the Dead Sea, inside the West Bank, was dictated by whether a soldier along the way decided to turn him back or not. And if my friend asserted his right to go? “I might be shot.”

Whoever by name controlled areas of the West Bank, it was ultimately Israel that had the overriding power. Checkpoints were everywhere—soldiers were as common as olive trees. Before I arrived, there had been a video of an identified soldier shooting and killing an unarmed girl, yet nothing happened. There is virtually no international media found in the West Bank. Israel largely keeps the foreign press out and demands self-censorship.

Most international reports on the West Bank are in fact reported from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. To read the news unfolding in front of me distorted by the media at home only affirmed that I needed to share what I experienced. Censorship is one of Israel’s greatest weapons—the reality does not match the story given to the public.

The wall that divides Israel and Palestine creates more than physical barriers.
Steven Davidson / The Chronicle

A towering slab of concrete divides Israel and Palestine. The wall’s construction destroyed dozens of villages, has caused an endless economic depression and imprinted permanent psychological damage to the Palestinian people. Every time I mentioned going to Tel Aviv, guilt would seep through as people lamented their desire to just one day be able to see the ocean. It pained me as I’d pass Jerusalem from the other side of the wall and those around me would look on at the Dome of the Rock in the distance, wishing to one day pray there. It was always an awkward topic to mention my travels in Israel, having visited all these places as a foreigner. These places were a part of their childhood, yet now they could never experience what I did with such ease. The wall penetrated people’s minds and livelihood in so many ways, even in life-or-death situations. There was a boy who fell ill and needed immediate medical attention. His family drove to the wall to go to the hospital in Jerusalem. In spite of his critical condition, soldiers denied permission for him to go. He died at the wall. These stories are far from uncommon.

Visiting the wall was intensely emotional. In Bethlehem, people write down their experiences and tape them to the wall. The stories stretch for miles. Street art on the wall calls for freedom and justice, a world where they “build bridges, not walls.” Tears flowed down my face in a gentle stream. I came upon an inscription: “Judaism ≠ Zionism,” as a Crescent Moon and Star of David were drawn side-by-side. I collapsed to my knees. The messages in front of me were cries of desperation, of humanity. And yet, only on this side of the wall could these cries be heard.

 I asked myself, ‘Why? What is the reason?’ The answer always was: there was no reason.

Even in the West Bank, Palestinians struggle to move around. Checkpoints arbitrarily turn people back or detain them for hours on end, despite international law limiting detention without reason to 20 minutes. People are beaten and humiliated at these checkpoints. These are not defensive measures. They occur unprovoked and upon innocent bystanders. With checkpoints and limited roads available to the Palestinians, a 60-mile trip from Hebron to Jenin can take six hours.

Foreign aid workers are hardly welcome in the West Bank. The friends I had were forced to lie under the pretenses of their stays in Israel or face being turned away. Each time they leave, they fear they won’t be allowed back in. Suspicion of going to the West Bank leads to detention in the airport or on the border for hours, with the very possible result of being turned away. I knew an American lawyer who was stopped at Ben Gurion Airport. They demanded to look through her computer. Knowing her rights, she said no. They told her they would take her computer and send it back to her. When it was sent back, there was a bullet hole through it.

Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams—a human rights organization with funding from the United Nations—have had their credentials turned down at the border. Even when they get into the West Bank, there are risks. They have been arrested by the IDF for simply escorting Palestinian children to school to prevent violence from settlers and soldiers alike.

I cannot count the amount of times I witnessed and learned things in which I’d fall silent. I asked myself, ‘Why? What is the reason?’ The answer always was: there was no reason. I’ve witnessed what the government and thus media declare to be security measures. They’re not security measures. They’re oppression.

The prisoners Palestinians refer to as “the kidnapped” are those who are under Israeli administrative detention. Administrative detention was a law carried over and expanded from the times of the British Mandate. It allows Israel to throw anyone in prison—in use, Palestinians—for up to six months without charges or due process. They simply renew the sentence every six months, making imprisonment indefinite. These cases are nonviolent in nature and are largely used as a measure to suppress political activism in the West Bank.

The first night I was in Hebron, I met a man who was in administrative detention for five years. He was silenced after being politically active on his college campus against the occupation. There were others I had met who had been imprisoned under similar terms. None of them committed any wrongful crimes.

I had tea in the home of another man who had been imprisoned under administrative detention for four years. Hamas had been helping to pay for his college tuition, so he was thrown in jail. What people don’t realize about support for Hamas in the West Bank is that it does not come out of a desire to kill all Jews. In times of relative calm, most support actually comes from Hamas’s social welfare programs, such as helping kids pay for school, running soup kitchens and organizing community activities such as soccer leagues. This dynamic changed as the war in Gaza began.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

VIDEO: Israel Border Police detain 6-year-old child in Hebron

 

23rd April 2014 | 
Khalil Team| Hebron, Occupied PalestineAt approximately 7 am this morning, Rami Rajabi, a six-year-old child, was 20 meters away from checkpoint 29 when he threw several pebbles in al-Khalil (Hebron).

As Rami walked away towards his school, three Israeli soldiers burst out of an alleyway, grabbed his arm, and detained him in the street.
Rami then burst into tears and was clearly terrified, the Israeli soldier tightly gripped his arm and began to pull him back towards checkpoint 29.
ISM activists tried to intervene, trying to convince the soldiers to release the child. The soldiers dragged him back to the checkpoint where local Palestinians implored the soldiers to release the boy.
While ISMers were filming the incident, Israeli Border Patrol watched on as a settler from a nearby illegal settlement to aggressively confront the ISMers, calling one activist a “killer” and tried to grab the camera.
After approximately 20 minutes of pressure from locals and activists, the child was released and was taken home by a friend of his family.
An ISMer present said, “What happened today is part of an ongoing campaign to intimidate the local population: Israeli soldiers harass children here in Hebron all the time”.

Weekly report on israel’s terrorism against the State of Palestine

FULL REPORT

Israeli forces continue systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

An Israeli drone targeted 2 members of an armed group in the north of the Gaza Strip, due to which they sustained wounds.

13 civilian bystanders, including 5 children, were wounded as well.

 Israeli warplanes carried out 6 airstrikes on civilian targets and paramilitary sites in the Gaza Strip.

An armed group member sustained minor wounds.

A livestock barn was destroyed, 18 sheep and a cow died and the barn and windows of 5 houses sustained damage.

Israeli forces continued to open fire in the border area of the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian civilian was moderately wounded in the northern Gaza Strip.

 Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank.

A Palestinian civilian was wounded in Bil’in weekly protest, west of Ramallah.

 Israeli forces conducted 82 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

35 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, were arrested.

Israel continued to impose a total closure on the oPt and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank.

At least one Palestinian civilian was arrested at checkpoints in the West Bank.

A Palestinian child was arrested at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

 Israeli navy forces continued targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea.

Israeli navy forces opened fire 3 times at fishermen in the sea in the northern and southern Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported.

Israeli forces continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

Settlers set fire to a poultry barrack in Madama village, south of Nablus.

79 olive trees were cut off, northwest of Ramallah.

  

Summary

Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (17 – 23 April 2014).

 

Shooting:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 18 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including 5 children and 3 members of armed groups. Israeli warplanes launched 6 airstrikes on civilian targets and training sites throughout the Gaza Strip, while Israeli navy forces carried out 3 shooting incidents against Palestinian fishing boats in the sea.

On 18 April 2014, a 24-year-old civilian from Jabalia sustained a bullet wound to the left leg when Israeli forces stationed along the border, east of Jabalia town, opened fire at a group of youngsters near the border.

On 21 April 2014, a member of an armed group was wounded when an Israeli warplane attacked a paramilitary site of a Palestinian armed group, southeast of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

On 23 April 2014, an Israeli drone targeted 2 members of an armed group on a motorbike in Beit Lahia village in the northern Gaza Strip. As a result, the 2 members and 13 civilians, including 5 children, were wounded in addition to,.

In the context of airstrikes, on 21 April 2014, Israeli warplanes launched 6 airstrikes on civilian targets and paramilitary sites throughout the Gaza Strip. As a result, a livestock barn  and a cart were destroyed and 18 sheep, a cow, 10 chickens and 10 rabbits died. Moreover, a neighbouring barn and 2 carts sustained damage and windows of 5 houses were broken.

In the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea, on 17 April 2014, Israeli navy forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off Khan Yunis shore, in the southern Gaza Strip, but neither casualties nor material damage were reported.

On 17, 22 and 23 April 2014, Israeli navy forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing 3 nautical miles northwest off Beit Lahia shore, in the northern Gaza Strip, and off Khan Yunis shore, in the southern Gaza Strip.

In the West Bank, Israeli forces used excessive force against peaceful demonstrations organised by Palestinian civilians, international and Israeli human rights defenders in protest at the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank. As a result, a 19-year-old civilian was hit by a gas canister to the right hand, while dozens of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises as they were beaten up by Israeli soldiers.

 

Incursions:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 82 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 35 Palestinians, including 3 children.

On 20 April 2014, Israeli forces moved into Deir Samet village, southwest of Hebron. They raided a house belonging to the family of Rezeq al-Hroub (54). They violently raided an apartment belonging to his son, who is married. They ordered his family to stay outdoors. The son was severely beaten up and then arrested.

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 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 7 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 1.7 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.

Israeli forces have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinian civilians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continue to be denied access to Jerusalem.

As part of using military checkpoints and border crossings as traps to arrest Palestinian civilians under the pretext they are wanted, Israeli forces arrested at least one civilian in the West Bank.

 

Settlement activities

Israel has continued its settlement activities in the oPt, in a direct violation of international humanitarian law, and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

 

Attacks carried out by Israeli forces

on 19 April 2014, Israeli forces moved into the pastoral lands surrounding Kherbet Um al-Kheir, east of Yata, south of Hebron.  They prevented civilians from grazing their sheep, denied them access to water wells and insulted them with bad words.  They then declared it as a close military zone.

 

Attacks carried out by settlers

On 17 April 2014, a group of settlers from “Yitsahar” settlement set fire to a barrack used for grazing chickens in Ma’aser al-Jaloud area in the north of Madma village, south of Nablus.  The cost of building and equipping the barrack is around 250,000 NIS as it is a source of livelihood for a family of 10 members, including 2 university students.

On 18 April 2014, dozens of settlers under the Israeli forces’ protection stormed the entrance of Ezna village, west of Hebron. The Israeli forces closed the village entrance and isolated it, and the settlers placed a monument and raised the Israeli flag on it in the place where “Baroukh Mizrahi” was killed after his car was subjected to fire at the entrance of the village, which is connected by bypass road 60.

 On the same day, a group of settlers from “Emanuel” settlement, east of Qalqilya, threw stones at civilian vehicles passing on Qana Valley main road, north of the city.  As a result, Palestinian cars were damaged and the passengers were terrified due to the stone-throwing on the dark road adjacent to the aforementioned settlement.

 On 19 April 2014,  a group of settlers from “Nirea” outpost established on the lands of the villages of Ras Karkar and al-Janiyah in the northern part of it, northwest of Ramallah, uprooted and smashed 79 fruitful olive trees in al-Nabu ‘Aneir area, north of the village, near the aforementioned village.  Those attacked trees belong to four families from Ras Karkar village.

Israel’s hostility to Christianity

Hostility to religions other than Judaism

An Israeli police checkpoint blocks access to the Old City of Jerusalem, April 19, 2014. The day before Easter, thousands of Palestinian Christians and international pilgrims attempt to enter Jerusalem's Old CIty to participate in the "Saturday of Light" or "Holy Fire" celebration in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

An Israeli police checkpoint blocks access to the Old City of Jerusalem, April 19, 2014. The day before Easter, thousands of Palestinian Christians and international pilgrims attempt to enter Jerusalem’s Old CIty to participate in the “Saturday of Light” or “Holy Fire” celebration in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

More PHOTOS: Christians face barriers to Easter worship in Jerusalem

Activestills 21 Apr Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler —

Year after year, Palestinian Christians and international pilgrims face checkpoints and harsh treatment by Israeli police officers as they attempt to celebrate the Easter season in Jerusalem … While Palestinian Christians and Muslims from the West Bank and Gaza have to apply for permits to enter Jerusalem for their religious celebrations, Israeli Jews (and effectively, any Jew regardless of their nationality) participate in their religious celebrations in occupied East Jerusalem without any restriction. Even Jerusalem ID holders and Palestinian citizens of Israel needed special police-issued wristbands to pass checkpoints into the Old City on Saturday, while in at least some cases Jewish worshipers were allowed to pass freely by police while crowds of other pilgrims were forced to wait. Palestinians and others who face these checkpoints and barricades often report harsh treatment by police.

Last year, a Coptic priest was choked and beaten by police in an incident caught on video. While authorities claimed the case was a rare exception, and that the massive police presence is needed to maintain order, Palestinian Christians maintain that such abuses are commonplace.
http://972mag.com/photos-christians-face-barriers-to-easter-worship-in-jerusalem/89921/

Israeli forces fire tear gas at Christian pilgrims in al-Eizariya

More Photos here
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Dozens of Christian pilgrims suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation on Friday after Israeli troops fired tear gas canisters as they performed religious rites at the Tomb of Lazarus in al-Eizariya [Biblical ‘Bethany’] in East Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers reportedly refused to stop firing tear gas canisters despite the presence of pilgrims after clashes had broken out between local youths and Israeli forces in the area. Witnesses told Ma‘an that a tour guide who was escorting the pilgrims asked an Israeli officer to stop firing tear gas canisters until pilgrims left, but the officer continued to fire. The pilgrims had to take shelter in a souvenir shop before they could complete their prayers.The owner of the souvenir shop also tried to convince the Israeli officer to stop firing tear gas so that the pilgrims could leave, but instead the officer “asked a soldier to fire tear gas canisters at the church and at the pilgrims,” witnesses added.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=691171

Easter in the destroyed village of Maalul


MAALUL (Ma‘an) 19 Apr by Alex Shams — As thousands of Palestinian Christians descend on Jerusalem for Holy Week festivities, the villagers of Maalul [Ma‘loul] are busy preparing their own Easter celebration for the one day a year Israeli authorities allow them to hold services in their village church. Their forefathers were expelled from their homes in the village in 1948 by Israeli forces, and today hundreds of their descendants live in nearby Nazareth, Yafa al-Naseriyye, and Haifa. They are forbidden from returning to the village, even though it sits mere kilometers away from their new homes. But in 2003, more than 50 years after they were forced to flee their homes, villagers returned to Maalul to celebrate Easter in the Catholic Church, one of the few structures that had not been demolished by authorities … The vast majority of the village’s homes have been bulldozed, their clean-cut stones now collected in haphazard piles across the gently rolling hill that once was home to 800 people. But at the peak of the small hill stand two churches — one Catholic and one Greek Orthodox — while a humble mosque sits in a small valley down below, beside the Christian and Muslim cemeteries. “The area is open, so we went to pray there in the church,” Jeraisy said of the first year they began organizing Easter celebrations in the village. “The Muslim community of Maalul also came then and prayed at the mosque.” Since then, villagers have come back on a yearly basis to hold services here, and more than 800 attended last time, he said … Although most Palestinian refugees were forced to flee into Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan, tens of thousands managed to remain inside the borders of the newly-established state. Like the villagers of Maalul, these refugees found themselves living only a few kilometers away from their old homes, yet forbidden from returning. For decades, Israeli authorities have kept strict watch over the more than 400 Palestinian villages that were forcibly depopulated in 1948. The vast majority were systematically demolished in the 1950s, part of an effort to ensure that the refugees not be allowed to exercise their right to return to their homes. Although most of Maalul’s buildings were destroyed, the churches and mosque remained standing…. [good photos here]
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=690714

Death and humiliation: The journey of Palestinian workers to Israel

Israeli police check ID’s of Palestinians on a checkpoint in an alleyway leading to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on March 16, 2014, in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Photo: AFP-Ahmed Gharabli)
Published Saturday, April 12, 2014
More than 15 thousand Palestinian workers from the city of Tulkarem and its neighboring villages head to al-Taibi checkpoint that separates them from 1948 Palestine to work at various jobs. Israeli employers do not pay much but Palestinian workers are forced to take a chance because they need to make a living in light of the harsh economic conditions plaguing the West Bank.
The workers hold the Palestinian Authority (PA) responsible for their misery. They are not asking for the PA to provide job opportunities, but at least to play a role in organizing the passage of the workers through Israeli checkpoints and to take advantage of its cooperation with the Israeli occupation to end their humiliation. All the PA did was say, through Tulkarem’s governor, that it is following up on the difficulties faced by Palestinian workers.
Tulkarem: It’s 4:00 am. Thousands of Palestinian workers gather at al-Taibi checkpoint in front of a small gate. They want to pass into 1948 Palestine to work because there are no employment opportunities in the West Bank. They ultimately have no choice but to work in Israel or starve.
They elbow their way to reach the checkpoint before the designated time.

Everyday they go through hours of humiliation waiting to pass. After al-Taibi, they have to go through other checkpoints. Arriving at the first gate early does not mean passing first or avoiding the pushing and the shoving of the thousands there. “Many have suffered broken bones or risk being trampled. You might die if you fall in the midst of the crowd,” says Naser Soubhi, one of the workers who takes the journey nearly everyday.

Soubhi is a father of four children. He began working in 1948 Palestine more than ten years ago even though he has a bachelor’s degree. He says: “We usually arrive at 1:30 am. On Sundays, when the crowds are the largest, some workers arrive at 10:30 pm. We try to stand near the first gate to end the misery here quickly and to be on the other side of the checkpoint when our employers arrive.”
He adds: “There, the Israeli soldiers put a narrow passageway that is more like an iron cage that goes in one direction. The workers have to pass through it. Once you step in, you can not go back or stop walking because of the pushing and the shoving.”
Soubhi goes on: “There is more than one window to check the permits but the army opens only two. The soldiers manning the windows often stop to chitchat while we wait for our turn.” He continues: “The soldiers enjoy conducting their training in areas close to the checkpoint to scare us. If there is no training, they start yelling at us and ordering us around to humiliate us.”
He told us that one time, dozens of his colleagues suffocated after they were shot with tear gas canisters. “A short while back, a worker died while passing because of the stampede that the soldiers themselves caused. When you put so many people in such a small place, death becomes an expected outcome.
Adel Yaacoub, from the town of Balaa near Tulkarem, was martyred last January after suffocating from tear gas at al-Taibi checkpoint leaving behind a wife and seven children.
Since the beginning of this year, eight workers have died while working in Israel as a result of the neglect of health and safety conditions, according to the Palestinian Labor Minister Ahmed Majdalani.
Majdalani said in a statement in late March: “The increase in work-related injuries and deaths in Israel is due to the fact that Palestinians work dangerous jobs and the Israelis refuse to treat them in Israeli hospitals when they get injured.” He wondered: “Why do they get transferred to the West Bank for treatment while their condition worsens even though part of their salaries go to health care compensation?”
Sneaking-in instead of getting permits
Thousands of young Palestinian men risk their lives trying to get into Israel by sneaking in and working there without work permits. Israeli police often pursue these men and they are either arrested or shot at with live bullets if they are spotted along the border.
Ahmed (a pseudonym) has been bedridden for more than a week after his leg was broken while trying to escape from soldiers who had spotted him with others trying to sneak in near a border area. Ahmed told Al-Akhbar what happened to him: “I ran between the olive trees where I found a tractor. I tried to climb into the vehicle that the tractor was pulling and hide inside it but I fell and the tractor wheel crushed my leg. I can’t work now but thankfully I wasn’t shot.”

As to why he was sneaking in, the young man in his 20s says: “Permits are only given to married men. In the past they also required that a person have a child.” He added: “To work in Israel is humiliating but I have no other choice. Sometimes I find consolation in being inside 1948 Palestine, in a city inaccessible to its own indigenous population.”

If these young men manage to get in and work, the labor of many days might go uncompensated because their Israeli employers refuse to pay them and there is no law to protect them and no one to defend them.
Hamza (a pseudonym) has a university degree. He began to work in Israel more than two years ago. He says: “They refused to pay me more than once. I can’t do anything about it.”
He goes on: “I always try to sneak in with a group of young men, sometimes through northern West Bank cities or even southern cities. Any chance we get we try to take advantage of it. When a route is uncovered we try a different one and each attempt is harder than the one before.” He continues: “For over two years, I worked hard jobs like construction and agriculture.”
Hamza also explains how he and those with him have to leave their homes at a late hour of the night to reach a point of entry. “When we cross through the hole in the barbed wire, a car that we had made arrangements with comes, usually driven by a Palestinian from the 1948 territories. In less than a minute 15 to 20 men cram inside the small car.”
He goes on: “If the soldiers find the car, they chase it and we would have to jump out of it and hide between the trees. Sometimes, the Israeli police surprise us at work and arrest us. It happened with me once.”
It is a deadly journey, whether the workers sneak in or go through a checkpoint. If death spares them on their way in, any work-related injury inside is exacerbated by not being treated promptly. Nevertheless, Palestinians insist on trying to make a living, even inside their occupied territories.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

UN asks Egypt, Israel to ease siege on Gaza

 

NEW YORK — The United Nations on Friday asked each of Egypt and Israel to ease their siege on the Gaza Strip.

The London-based Arabic newspaper ‘A-Hayat’ quoted Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, as saying in a press conference that the UN has not stopped urging Egypt and Israel to end restrictions on Gaza crossings.

UNRWA commissioner-general Filippo Grandi had earlier called for lifting the “oppressive” siege on Gaza.

He said that both Egypt and Israel bear the responsibility for the blockade on Gaza Strip, adding that civilians should be spared consequences of conflicts.

World standing idle as Palestine suffers

World standing idle as Palestine suffers

Source

“They will not fight you [even] together, except in fortified townships, or from behind walls. Strong is their fighting [spirit] amongst themselves: thou wouldst think they were united, but their hearts are divided: that is because they are a people devoid of wisdom.” Quran 59:14 Ever since Israel laid the cornerstone of its apartheid wall in 1994, setting the tone for its relations with the rest of the Arab and Islamic world, such words have haunted the Muslim community, as they carry within them foretold warnings of coming tribulations. And indeed, much suffering has befallen Palestinians since Tel Aviv’s Zionists have moved forth their plan for total control over the region. Over the past 20 years, Palestine has been plundered by Israel, its rich arable lands confiscated, its water resources rerouted to benefit illegal settlers and its people treated as mere cattle awaiting slaughter. The once proud land of Palestine has been crying bitter tears tainted with pain and sorrow as her children have been driven from their homes by Zion’s hordes and abandoned by the Islamic Ummah for too many chose to shamelessly turn away rather than face the discomfort of war. As the world fell prey to global powers’ agendas, as Muslims witnessed the inception of US President George W. Bush’s new world order, Palestine died a little more every day. After decades of injustice, humiliation and bloodshed, the land of Palestine is but a shadow of its former self, a fractured country whose ever-shrinking borders will soon collapse on themselves to leave behind only the memory of what once was. For all their millions, Muslims could not find strength in numbers to oppose but a handful. Betrayed from within, Muslims have looked upon the hills of al-Quds and watch in silence as our sacred land is being defiled by evil. Just as a snake would coil around its victim, Israel’s wall of shame has slithered its way throughout Palestine, forever dividing communities, forever wrecking livelihoods and cutting out families from their loved ones, slowly suffocating an entire nation. Intent on reducing Palestine to rubbles and assert its supremacy over Islam, Israel announced it wants its Separation Wall, its apartheid fence to act as the new border demarcation line. And while Palestinian authorities have decried such a project, calling on the international community to act a witness before such injustice and down-right pillaging, the world knows that neither salvation nor indeed justice will ever be given to Palestine, rather it would have to be taken. While Palestinian authorities continue to beg for scraps, hoping to salvage a modicum of pride by retreating behind the 967 borders, Israel’s long-standing blood-hound Benjamin Netanyahu has categorically rejected such a proposal, stressing that it would not only make Israel “indefensible” but that it would also “fail to take into account the past 46 years demographic changes.” In essence, Netanyahu wishes for Palestinians to accommodate illegal Zionist settlers, based on the ill-conceived belief that they hold a claim onto the kingdom of Sulaiman. But if ever there was a claim to be made on the holy land of Palestine, such claim would have to be from God, as none but Him can ever have true ownership onto the world.

Weekly report on Israel’s terrorism against the State of Palestine

FULL REPORT 

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (12- 18 December   2013)
Thursday, 19 December 2013 00:00

Israeli forces continue systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

 

 

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 6 others in Jenin refugee camp in the north of the West Bank.

 

A Palestinian civilian died of previous wounds in Bethlehem.

 

Israeli forces have continued to open fire at the border areas in the Gaza Strip.

3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in the northern and southern Gaza Strip.

 

Israeli forces have continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank.

 

Many civilians suffered tear gas inhalation.

 

 

Israeli forces conducted 21 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

 

At least 12 Palestinians were arrested.

 

Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the oPt and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank.

At least 3 Palestinian civilians were arrested at checkpoints in the West Bank.

 

Israeli navy forces have continued targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea.

Israeli naval forces opened fire twice at Palestinian fishing boats, but no casualties were reported.

 

Israeli forces have continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

Israeli forces confiscated 10 dunums<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–> of land in Qasra village near Nablus and denied farmers access to other 500-dunum lands.

 

 

Summary

Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (12 – 18 December 2013).

Shooting:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 6 others in Jenin refugee camp, west of Jenin in the northern West Bank. Moreover, medical sources pronounced a Palestinian civilian from al-Dheisha refugee camp, southwest of Bethlehem, dead due to wounds he had sustained during the al-Aqsa Intifada. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces wounded 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, while Israeli naval forces continued opening fire at the Palestinian fishing boats.

In the West Bank, on Wednesday evening, 18 December 2013, in an excessive use of lethal force, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 6 others in Jenin refugee camp in Jenin.

In the same context, Medical sources at al-Maqased Charitable Hospital in East Jerusalem pronounced Mo’een Mohammed al-Atrash (28), from al-Dheisha refugee camp southwest of Bethlehem, dead of wounds he had sustained in 2004.

Moreover, Israeli forces continued the systematic use of excessive force against peaceful protests organised by Palestinian, Israeli and international activists against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West. As a result, many protestors suffered tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises as they were beaten up by Israeli soldiers.

In the Gaza Strip, 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child and 2 farmers, were wounded. On 14 December 2013, a Palestinian civilian was wounded when Israeli forces stationed along the border fence opened fire at him while he was about 200 meters to the east of al-Najjar neighbourhood in Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis.

On the same day, Israeli forces stationed on the northern borders between the Gaza Strip and Israel fired a number of artillery shells at open area, north of Um al-Nasser Bedouin village, and northwest of al-Nada housing project, but no casualties were reported.

On 15 December 2013, a farmer from Ezbet Beit Hanoun was wounded when Israeli forces stationed along the border fence, northeast of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of framers who were 500 meters away from the said fence.

On 16 December 2013, another farmer, from Jabalia, was wounded when Israeli forces stationed along the border fence, east of Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of farmers who were about 600 meters away from the said fence.

On 17 and 18 December 2013, Israeli forces stationed in watchtowers, east of Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a number of farmers, shepherds and bird hunters in the east of Beit Hanoun. As a result, they all fled away fearing of being wounded.

In the context of targeting fishermen in the sea, on 16 and 17 December 2013, Israeli forces stationed off al-Waha resort, northwest of Beit Lahia, opened sporadic fire at Palestinian fishing boats that were sailing about 3 nautical miles off the shore. However, neither casualties nor material damage were reported.

Incursions:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 21 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 12 Palestinians, including Ali al-Sa’di (25) from Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank, who had been wounded.

PCHR points that its fieldworkers in the West Bank, especially in Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus, could not move due to the blizzard that hit Palestine last week.

Restrictions on movement:

Israel continued to impose a tightened 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 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 7 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 a grave violation of the economic, social and cultural rights and a deterioration of living conditions for 1.7 million people.  The Israeli authorities has 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 that has been aggravating for years due to the shortage of imports.  They also aim at imposing a complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports.

Israeli forces have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinian civilians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continue to be denied access to Jerusalem.

As part of using military checkpoints and border crossings as traps to arrest Palestinian civilians under the pretext they are wanted, Israeli forces arrested at least 3 civilians in the West Bank.

Settlement activities

Israel has continued its settlement activities in the oPt, a direct violation of international humanitarian law, and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

On 17 December 2013, Israeli forces issued a decision to confiscate 10 dunums of land in Qasrah village, southeast of Nablus.  These confiscated lands are in “al-Wa’ar” area, which has always been attacked by settlers from “Yish Kodish” settlement established on the aforementioned village’s lands.

 

Israeli Violations Documented during the Reporting Period (12 – 18 December 2013)

 

<!–[if !supportLists]–>1. <!–[endif]–>Incursions into Palestinian Areas, and Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

God’s “chosen” Psychopaths

No matter how much they try to “soften” the face of supremacist psychopaths, no matter how much they try to “normalize” their crimes and whitewash their behaviour, the truth remains ugly and glaring.
Something went terribly wrong in the mindset and attitudes of those people. Something is totally skewed in their perception of themselves and the world. The ideology of supremacy, the indoctrination, and the sheer facial expressions reflective of revolting arrogance leaves you speechless.
After watching  this “Israeli”  documentary, I realised that it is not a genuine attempt to “expose”  crimes and inhumane behaviour of the soldiers at checkpoints, but rather to whitewash the horrific nature of cold-blooded murders committed at these check points by these soldiers. It is an attempt give a “humane face” which begs for sympathy by presenting psychopathic soldiers in the image of imature innocent friendly adolescents who all they want is to “laugh”, “joke”, “have fun”, “take pictures” and be “with mommy”.
This work is not an investigative work, which aims to identify criminals, and uncover  those who participated in it. It is not a documentation of a crime-scene, but rather a statement of protection: “hey,  we know our boys have done some naughty things, but they are not bad boys at all”.
Omitting to mention the beatings of children, the killing, the shooting, the watching of patients die and of pregnant women give birth in agony and distress, which have been regular occurrences at these checkpoints, making them “execution and murder points” rather than just “check points”, thus concealing the horrific, violent  and sadistic activities, which translates to a deadly grinding daily reality in which Palestinians are forced to live under at gunpoint, is rather revealing and revolting.
Filmed 10-12 years ago, at the peak of Second Intifada, where shooting Palestinians was a daily practice, undoubtedly, this piece of work is another form of highly sophisticated hasbara piece which is done with the help of “perception management experts” as it is the nature of “Israeli” propaganda media, allowing criticism to certain degree, to give an image of a free, democratic, self–regulating and caring society which is even allowed to criticise their army.
At the same time their criticism is done  ”humanely”, not with the intention to identify murderers, hence to file legal cases against the culprits,  it is done in a manner that causes criminals the least damage. It does not present their murderous activities as something to be dragged into courts of justice for prosecution and to pay for their crimes.
Such concealment, dressed up s “exposure” is worthy only of contempt.
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The Tanya,  which explicitly divides people into two categories: Jews (refined ethical humans with divine souls) and non-Jews (corrupt sub-humans with animal souls).
The Tanya explicitly declares that unlike the Jewish souls, “The souls of the nations of the world, however, emanate from the other, unclean kelipot which contain no good whatever
Nefesh HaBahamis (Animal Soul), Nefesh HoElokis (G-dly Soul)
Jews, as we shall see, are different from GentilesJews have a spiritual purpose, Gentiles a physical one.1 This can be compared to hands and feet.”
every Jew has the nefesh (life force) of every human being known as the Nefesh HaBahamis (Animal Soul). His additional soul, neshomah, is also known as the Nefesh HoElokis (G-dly Soul).”
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Damascus Street Notes



By Franklin Lamb

Al-Manar

Graphics by Alex

Lebanese border with SyriaThe half hour drive from the Lebanese border at Maznaa to Damascus is always pleasant with the wide, well paved and maintained highway, cutting through rolling hills often with large herds of goats and sheep lazily watching the traffic below. As this observer watched some of the herds the other day when traveling to Damascus, I noticed that there appeared to be an unusually large number of shepherds above us tending their herds. On second look, the shepherds turned out to be soldiers peering down on the main highway from among and behind the vegetation nibbling animals.

The increased security in Damascus has brought hundreds of shabab (youths), shahiba (“ghosts” in Arabic, but in the vernacular, “thugs”), popular committees, neighborhoods watch types and one presumes various security agency personnel from their early 20’s to middle age to control literally hundreds of checkpoints in central Damascus and the suburbs. Sometimes it appears that every fifty yards or so one encounters yet another checkpoint.

Damascus is currently calm with a few exceptions such as the Tadamon, Al-Qadam and Al-Asali neighborhoods where sporadic clashes are being discussed by friends the past two days. As with Libya last summer, many media reports are not at all accurate in depicting this city as on the edge and a panicked population. Last night this observer was up until almost 1 a.m. with friends in the old city at a restaurant and then driving around Damascus with still some cafes open, although according to local residents not as late as before the crisis began.

There are also plenty of security measures being strictly imposed around many governmental building including erected cement walls and the closure of nearby streets that cause traffic problems.

The Syrians are very serious about security. One government official told this observer,

“Look, if someone is intending to become a suicide bomber, it is very difficult for us to stop them. But we are doing our best and we conduct many random vehicle searches.”

A checkpoint experience here is not like in Lebanon where typically an approaching driver will simply roll down his window with a quick salute and a grinned “kefack habibi?” (“How are you dear?”) as the frequently sleepy soldier often just waves through the vehicle.

In contrast, Syrian checkpoints employ hi-tech weapons and explosive detection devices and search most cars, from underneath-up. Near government buildings or certain streets where high ranking officials have homes or offices metal detectors are also used.

This observer had an experience with a metal detector yesterday and with half a dozen or so security guys. Passing thorough the airport style device, having emptied my pockets of any metal and my phone, the loud alarm still went off. I was asked to pass through a second time.
I did with the same result. As three guys came close with new model hand held devices now being used, I also set off their alarms.
It finally dawned on me what the problem was.

I have recently had a state of the hart pacemaker implanted a few inches above my left nipple. I suddenly remembered that my cardiologist in Beirut warned me against passing thru a metal detector or allowing a hand held scanning device to come within two feet of me my pacemaker due to potential electronic problems.
 

Too late for that precaution, I opened my shirt and pointed to the four inch square lump in my chest and said “batterie.” Not being understood, two of the guys cocked their Kalashnikovs and things got tense. Later I was informed that they were pretty sure I was another of the recent suicide bombers plaguing Damascus and the lump was a bomb and they were edgy.


The situation was diffused by a middle aged fellow who apparently was the squad’s commander. When he approached me, by now I had my hands up, I said, “batterie, batterie, Dr.” He stared at my chest and replied, “Yalla, batterie, cardio, nam?” (“Ah, for your heart yes?”) After a little more discussion and checking my passport and visa I was on my way. This morning the young lady at the guest relations desk in my hotel kindly wrote me a card in Arabic, for future use if necessary, that I had a pacemaker and would very likely set off metal detectors. So as long as no one tips off my dream doctor at Hezbollah’s Cardiac Center in Beirut she won’t shout at me during our next appointment.

Sanctions as indiscriminate weapons against non-combatants

The legality of the western imposed sanctions on Syria and Iran are being discussed at the University of Damascus as well as among some officials and NGO’s here. A fairly cogent argument can be made that the type of sanctions being imposed on Syria and Iran are illegal under international customary law and, as with the banning of cluster bombs in 2008, should also be outlawed by an international convention. This is because the sanctions are political, rather obviously designed to achieve regime changes. They are also fundamentally indiscriminate and target and endanger the civilian non-combatants population particularly the poor, young, infirm and senior citizens

Claims are made in Washington and Europe that the increasing layers of sanctions target only the regime’s leader and its policies. This is nonsense. As in Iraq where US organized sanctions have been found to be a main cause of nearly 500,000 deaths of children, those seriously affected here are not the government officials.

The sanctions, as designed for application to both Syria and Iran also violate Art. 2 (4) of the UN Charter which commands that all Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

In discussions with officials as well as a rough cross-section of the citizenry of Damascus, including shoppers and clerks at a central Damascus supermarket, as well as students, it is possible to get a fairly good idea how the Western imposed sanctions are affecting families here.

A progressive Syrian journalist who works part time with an American NGO, and is critical of the Assad government but even more so of the desperate rebel groups, shared a fairly representative analysis regarding what is the current situation in Damascus regarding the Western sanctions:

“I think the sanctions being imposed on our country have a tremendous effect on the current crisis. Prices on average have risen at least 40 percent, especially consumer goods and basic food, like meat, milk bread, vegetables, fruit etc. Eggs and chicken have doubled in price and are unavailable in some small shops. Lines are getting longer at some gas stations in some parts of Damascus. The sanctions have also forced many people to close down their factories in Damascus and Aleppo because of lack of raw materials, and the spiral increase in their prices. My daughter works in an accessory household company. They need to import materials from Turkey. Clothing is more expensive since Turkish goods are not entering. I believe her company will close down soon. You can talk to her about it if interested. My son is considering travelling because of the lack of job opportunities. Young men his age are very frustrated here and some of the idle young are joining gangs and being recruited by jihadist groups offering cash and weapons along with indoctrination. As a mother I worry about him staying out of trouble but young people don’t seem to listen. The crisis has also forced employers to discharge people to cut down expenses. Many merchants have already left the country and transferred their money elsewhere. Others, such as warmongers, have benefitted from the crisis. Smuggled goods are expensive if available. The sanctions have hurt the ordinary people more than the regime by far. We are far worse off than 20 months ago.”


What worries this observer a bit is that last night a businessman close to the leadership assured me that “We can fight ten years to retain control of Damascus from Al Qaeda and the fanatics. Do not worry my friend.”

 Worried? I was speechless. Because on exactly August 12, 2011, these were the exact words spoken to me by a friend, Mr Khaled Kane, a good man and at the time Deputy Foreign Minister of Libya. Ten days later, not ten years, Tripoli fell to the rebels and following arrest, torture, and now ill health, Khaled languishes in a Misrata jail.


Franklin LambFranklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon. He is reachable c\o fplamb@gmail.com
Beirut Mobile: +961-70-497-804
Office: +961-01-352-127
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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

I Left My Heart in Palestine – 2012

 
The Phil Monsour Band performing I left my heart in Palestine Brisbane in 2011. The song is on the new album Ghosts of Deir Yassin to be released April 2012.

I Left My Heart in Palestine
Standing at the checkpoint
You were coming home from work
Our eyes met we laughed about how the soldiers talked
A smile of quiet dignity in that cage of shame
Determination in your eyes I might never see again

I left my heart in Palestine
We were people of no consequence quietly crying on the bus
Staring into the distance as we drove back through the dust
A spirit gently bending in this hope we trust
Nothing on our skin makes them better then us

I left my heart in Palestine
Dark hair falling gently in the soft light of the dusk
As the setting sun reflected off the dome of the rock
Crackling like a gunshot a distant call to pray
Someone praising god and saying we’re still here

I left my heart in Palestine
Smiling at the words etched upon the wall
Standing in its shadow dreaming of its fall
Our hopes met like thunder in our arms entwined
Cradling the stories of those we leave behind

I left my heart in Palestine
I left my heart in Palestine

http://www.philmonsour.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Phil-Monsour-Band/213390992033614
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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!
by Jonathon Blakeley Friday, March 30th, 2012

The Checkpoint


A Short film by Porter Speakman, Jr. (@porterspeakman) for the “Christ at the Checkpoint Conference 2012”. “The Checkpoint” looks at the system of Israeli checkpoints in the West Banks and the daily routine Palestinians must face going through the Bethlehem Checkpoint.

GiladAdd The wandering who- Gilad Atzmon
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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Israel Plans More Walls

by Stephen Lendman

My Photo 

Instead of peace, reconciliation, equity and justice, Israel plans settlement expansions and more Walls. More on them below.

 

At the same time, Abbas broke his pledge about no peace talks unless settlement expansions stop. Chief negotiators Saeb Erekat and Yitzhak Molcho are meeting in Amman, Jordan. They’re joined by Quartet representatives.

 

Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev claims “talks are intended to move forward to negotiations.”

 

PLO spokesman Xavier Abu Eid said, “We are just trying to create the right environment for talks.” Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat sidestepped controversy, saying “I would not make a big deal out of it.”

 

According to Abbas:

 

The meeting “was a response to a noble initiative by the brothers in Jordan in an attempt to push forward the peace process and to bridge gaps.”

 

“God willing, results of this meeting will be revealed in the coming two days, and based on that we will set the suitable grounds for resuming negotiations. This would be positive, and we hope Jordan will succeed.”

 

In fact, Abbas and other PLO leaders know decades of peace talks proved fruitless. Israel doesn’t negotiate. It demands. Settlement construction won’t stop. Neither will Israel’s Separation Wall and others on three borders – Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan. More on them below.

 

Claiming meeting in Amman doesn’t begin new talks is duplicitous, even though what follows is uncertain. Hamas denounced them. Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri wants them boycotted, saying they replicate a “failed policy.”

 

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) calls them an affront, a clear setback, and “severe political mistake,” benefitting Israel alone. The Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA) opposes them while land theft, home demolitions, and settlement expansions continue.

 

They benefit Israel at the expense of Palestine. Notably, as talks began, Israel’s Housing Ministry announced 300 new East Jerusalem housing units on stolen Palestinian land. They’re part of 500 units announced in mid-December.

 

At the time, Housing Minister Ariel Atias said it’s “clear that in any future agreement, these neighborhoods will stay under Israel’s sovereignty,” as well as others yet to be announced.

 

According to the NGO Ir Amim:

 

“By releasing (tenders) at this time, Israel is slapping the face of King Abdullah and the entire international community, morbidly injuring the already low chances of peace talks to be renewed,” and eliminating success if initiated.

 

Israel’s Agenda: Settlement Construction and Walls, not Peace

 

Stop the Wall.org (STW) is a “Palestinian movement against the (Separation) Wall.” It wants it dismantled and Palestine liberated.

 

“The Wall is an integral part of the Zionist project to remove Palestinians from Palestine.”
 
“The Palestinian struggle is, at its core, a basic human instinct and drive for self-determination. It is a fight against expulsion and subjugation under Occupation.”

 

It wants Wall construction stopped, portions built dismantled, all confiscated lands returned, and compensation paid victims for lost homes, businesses, farmland, orchards, olive groves, and other property.

 

Projected to exceed 800 km when completed, its route is largely within the Green Line. It’s not for security. It’s land theft plain and simple, around 12% of Palestine, with:
     

  • 34 fortified checkpoints, including three main terminals, nine commercial ones, and 22 others for cars and workers to control Palestinian movement; 
  • 44 tunnels, connecting 22 “small ghettos inside 3 main ghettos (West Bank’s north, central and south);” 
  • 634 checkpoints or other military obstructions, including trenches, roadblocks, and metal gates; and 
  • 1,661 km of Jews-only roads, connecting settlements and accompanying blocs, complementing the Wall.

 

Combined with settlements, military zones, parks, commercial developments, other closed areas, and open spaces, nearly half the West Bank will be annexed. Perhaps more eventually as land theft continues unabated.

 

Villages are being destroyed. Others are isolated. Israel’s scheme involves cantonizing and ghettoizing the territory, imprisoning its people, denying them basic services, controlling its water and other resources, restricting free movement, and preventing a viable two-state solution.

 

At an estimated $2.1 billion cost, construction involves eight meter-high Wall sections (double the Berlin Wall’s height), watchtowers, and a 30 – 100 meter-wide buffer zone for electric fences, trenches, cameras, sensors, and military patrols.

 

Other portions consist of razor wire topped fences, patrol roads, sand paths to trace footprints, ditches, and surveillance cameras. Communities are being encircled. Others are between the Wall and Green Line in the so-called Seam Zone. Landowners and residents need permits to access homes and farmland.

 

The effect is devastating. Thousands are separated from property and means of subsistence. Others lose out altogether, dispossessed to facilitate construction.

 

Hundreds of thousands in dozens communities are affected, including over 200,000 East Jerusalemites. They’ll be totally isolated from other West Bank communities.

 

At issue is lost homes, land, and livelihoods. Also the ability to access health care, education, religious sites, and other West Bank communities easily or at all.

 

It’s a massive land grab, a settlement expansion scheme, and plan to seize all valued land, dispossess tens of thousands, entirely Judaize East Jerusalem, and enforce police state harshness.

 

Through summer 2010, nearly two-thirds of construction was completed. Through December, Jerusalem projects took precedence. In Bethlehem, construction resumed in Walaja village and remains ongoing in Beit Jala.

 

Nearly the entire Jordan Valley is isolated as a closed military zone.

 

Given Wall protection, settlement expansions continue unimpeded. More than 500,000 settlers occupy confiscated land, including over 200,000 in East Jerusalem. Many more will follow. Thousands more Palestinians will lose land, homes, livelihoods and futures.

 

Gaza’s already surrounded by walls and razor wire. It extends 55 km from northwest Beit Lahia to Rafah. It includes 300 – 600 meter buffer zones. They prohibit Palestinians from accessing valued farmlands. Around 25% of Gaza’s most fertile areas are affected and 15% of farmers unable to work. Anyone trying to use it is shot, including children.

 

Israel confronts anti-Wall resisters with violence. Since 2002, thousands were injured, others killed. Thousands more were arrested, including an estimated 750 in East Jerusalem in 2010 alone. At issue is defending their villages, land and rights.

 

More Walls, Less Peace

 

Reports suggest new Israeli Walls along three borders – Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.

 

Along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, a five-meter high/one km Wall will be equipped with alarms and surveillance cameras. It will separate Israel’s al-Matala kibbutz from Lebanon’s Kafr Kala village. Construction’s expected to start early in 2012.

 

Currently underway is a 240 km Wall from Rafah to Ein Netafim along Egypt’s border. It will end 14 km north of Eilat. It’s five meters high, equipped with radar, surveillance cameras, and watch towers. Allegedly, it’s to deter security threats and stop infiltrators, including migrants wanting work and asylum seekers.

 

When completed around end of 2012, another along Jordan’s border will follow for the same purpose. Fortress Israel is walling itself in along three borders.

 

Ilan Pappe believes the Zionist project involves constructing, then defending “a Western/’white’ fortress in the Arab/’dark’ world.”

 

It resembles Crusaders in Islamic lands. They’re encircling themselves within Walls and electric fences. “Most important, the Zionist belief in Fortress Israel guarantees the perpetuation of the conflict with the Palestinians, their Arab neighbors and Muslim societies as far away as South-East Asia.”

 

Like America, Israel needs conflict and violence to defend belligerence, repression and occupation.

 

At issue is how much longer by policies creating more enemies than friends and Palestinians determined to live free.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
 
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.                               

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This Is Israel!!!(must watch)

Barbarism, inhumanity, war crimes…

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Press TV
New video has emerged showing Israeli soldiers beating a handcuffed Palestinian teenage boy, threatening to break his legs and arms during interrogation, Press TV reports.
Reports say that the teenager who has been identified as Mohammed might be one of the 22 people arrested near Jerusalem al-Quds, Press TV reported on Friday.

On Thursday, an Israeli military spokeswoman said 22 people were rounded up for interrogation last night across West Bank, including 10 in the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

There were reportedly nine members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) among the detainees.

Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers stormed Palestinian houses inconsiderate of the presence of women and children. They said one of those arrested was sick while another was disabled.

The raid was the second operation targeting the Palestine (PFLP) in the last month, following a November raid, where 13 leaders of the faction were detained in Ramallah and Jenin.

PG/AZ/JR

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Arrests, a Murder and a Visit to Jenin Camp

var addthis_product = ‘wpp-261’;var addthis_config = {“data_track_clickback”:true}; by Eileen Fleming

(West Bank, July 27, 2011)- At 3:30 AM this morning, heavily armed and masked Israeli Forces hurled blocks of stone into several windows of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp and arrested Adnan Naghnaghiye the manager, and Bilal Saadi a board member and took them away to an unknown location.

When the theatres manager Jacob Gough, from the UK and cofounder Jonattab Stanczak from Sweden arrived on the scene, they were forced at gunpoint to squat next to a family with four small children who were surrounded by about 50 Israeli soldiers.

Juliano Mer-Khamis, established the Freedom Theater in 2006 and was murdered outside of it on 4 April 2011. Palestinian security forces arrested and charged a member of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in connection with his murder. Mer-Khamis, was born to a Palestinian father and Jewish mother. His mother, Arna, first founded the theater in the late 1980s for children in the wake of the first Intifada.
I never made it to the Freedom Theatre, but I did spend a day in Jenin Camp on 23 July 2007.
My driver with VIP plates and I left Jerusalem at 9:45 AM and what had once been an hour and a half’s drive took us nearly three, but the Palestinians we passed along the way stuck at the checkpoints waited much longer.

Once we cleared Beirzeit, I took my first deep breath of fresh air and rested my eyes upon miles of mountain vistas of thousands of olive trees and a few Bedouins whose only shelter was a ripped plastic tent, and who were out grazing a small herd of sheep. There were scattered Arab homes, some quite palatial and then the familiar clumps of red roofed settlements built on the mountain tops with one mount occupied by a half dozen caravans/trailers: the first sign of a new colony.

When we got to the checkpoints, and only because we had the ‘right’ license plate, we were allowed to bypass the queue of scores of Palestinian cars and hundreds of individuals who waited underneath a metal enclosure packed like sardines and denied the freedom of movement.

Racism is visible on the front of every motor vehicle, for Palestinian plates are green with white numbers; Israelis are yellow with black and VIP cars white with black. The latter two get waved on through, but green and white means you wait, wait, wait and even then maybe denied the right to travel on.

When we approached the checkpoint at Wad Elbedar Valley, my driver confessed his anxiety, “I am very afraid of the Israeli’s but also this is dangerous territory; Nablus, Jenin and Qalquiylia.”

I smiled and told him, “Relax, we are doing nothing wrong and I am on a mission from God.”
The soldier who looked about twelve took my passport and as I smiled at him, he asked, “Where are you from?”
“America, I help pay your salary. Where are you from?”
“Israel.”
“You were born here?”
“Yes, Haifa.”
“Nice place.”
“Yes, very nice and what are you doing here?”
“I am visiting a priest in Zababdeh.”
“Okay, enjoy.”
“Thanks, bye bye.”

Ten minutes from Zababdeh, the priest I was to meet, pulled out from a side street in front of us and led us the rest of the way to his home and church grounds, where the very first and only Olive Trees Foundation Olive Grove and Children Park took root in 2005. I have been to the property three times and my first visit was as the Christian delegate for the non-profit Olive Trees Foundation for Peace, which had been dedicated to raising awareness and funds to help replace the over one million food bearing trees that have been destroyed by The Wall.

In 2007, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs reported “Financed with U.S. aid at a cost of $1.5 million per mile, the Israeli wall prevents residents from receiving health care and emergency medical services. In other areas, the barrier separates farmers from their olive groves which have been their families’ sole livelihood for generations.” [Page 43, Jan/Feb. 2007]

My second visit to the priest’s home and church was on 14 March 2006, as a member of a Sabeel [Arabic for The Way] reality tour through the West Bank. That was the very same day that the Israeli Defense Forces/IDF stormed the Jericho prison and the Al Aqsa Brigade issued a warning and demanded that all USA and British citizens immediately vacate the West Bank or they would be abducted.

Ahmed Sa’adat and four other Palestinians had been detained at the Jericho Prison since 2002, despite a court decision ordering their release. They were accused of assassinating the former Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001. They had been detained under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority under the supervision of guards provided by the UK and USA in accordance with an agreement reached between the British, USA, Israel and the PA.

It was immediately after the withdrawal of the American and British troops that the raid took place. The guards had announced their intention to withdraw from the prison but they made no alternative arrangements for their absence. The IDF then began their assault in the absence of any alternative safety-nets. After the American and British forces abandoned the Jericho prison and the IDF showed up demanding Saadate come out with his hands up, rumors began flying throughout the West Bank that the Third Intifada had begun.

The Sabeel group had planned to be in Jericho the very next day, but as John Lennon sang, “life is what happens while you are busy making other plans” and so we went to Nazareth instead.

We learned the news from Jericho while we were breaking bread with the Christians in the village of Zababdeh. Our Sabeel group had been advised by the locals that although we were perfectly safe with them, we should leave the West Bank ASAP and forget about our plans to visit the Jenin Refugee Camp and our meeting with Badil: the Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights.
On 23 July 2007, my plan was to spend the day in the Jenin refugee camp and within three minutes of my arrival the priest’s best friend, a Muslim drove up and invited me to go and see the facts on the ground in the 100% Muslim, Jenin refugee camp and meet with some of the Fatah underground.
In the car, the priest told me, “There are 2,500 Christians now left in Zababdeh and just over 1,000 Muslims and we have always gotten along. Whenever I have a problem here, I go to Jenin and get help there.”

We traveled past the five years young American Arab University where medical and law students from Israel and Palestine study together. The priest informs me, “We are suffering now. The Israelis denied to renew the visas for the American teachers because they do not like them opening America’s eyes. The teachers tell all about the suffering, hunger and anger of the occupied.”

Jenin refugee camp is home for nearly 20,000 Palestinian Muslims who share one square kilometer of land. Within seconds of stopping the car on one of the winding narrow alleys, an elderly woman approached us with a broad smile and immediately invited us all to her home for coffee and lunch. We thankfully decline as we are on the way to meet 40 year old Krozow, the number two leader of El Katib; the underground resistance movement within the Fatah party.

In English, Krozow translates to “good fighter” and Fatah stands for Palestinian Liberation Movement. I am shown a picture of the old and the new logo- the former depicted two hands holding two guns; the new logo had two hands, with one hand holding a gun and the other hand holding an olive branch in memory of Arafat’s pledge at the UN, “Don’t let me drop this olive branch, don’t let me drop this olive branch, don’t let me drop this olive branch!”

Krozow was 16 the first time he was sent to prison for throwing rocks in 1985. He was released in ’88 and resumed his resistance to the occupation and was sent back to jail from 1990-1994, when he was released under the Oslo accords.

Krozow greeted me warmly and his smiling children kept entering the room where we were talking. Krozow patiently and lovingly hugged them all and with a broad smile, deposited them back outside the living room door. He returned with water, and then after another child entered the room, he repeated the ritual but returned with coffee and on the third time with orange soda.

Krozow informed me, “Last week Israel and Abbas agreed that 232 persons here would hand over our weapons. We did and Israel agreed that they would not attack the camp. Yesterday the soldiers came and shot out the streetlights. The children watched from the windows and saw it all. They also saw when the Israelis shot and burned up an ambulance and the man inside died. What can children think when they must see these things?

“The camp is a warm place because children dream of freedom. My son is 4 years old and he knows all about weapons. All his words are about the Israelis attacking us and Apache helicopters that drop bombs. Children all over the world get to go play outside, but here all they see are soldiers who come every day to terrorize.

“We are not violent people, but we do resist the occupation, as is our right. What if Russia came to occupy American, wouldn’t you fight? I support Abbas, but he believes in negotiations, I believe in resisting the occupation. Abbas is the political Fatah, they drive Mercedes and roll up their windows and shutout the suffering of the people. I am dedicated to the people and to protecting them from the IDF. We are people under occupation and we would all love to have our children grow up free and live like children anywhere else in the world, who can play outside, go swimming and not have to see soldiers all the time. The Israeli’s tell the world we are violent, but we are only against their occupation. What if Russia came and occupied America, wouldn’t Americans resist?

“Hamas sends people out to Israel and targets civilians. The underground Fatah movement does not do that, we defend our home ground against Israeli forces. I take care of my family, home and community. I do not target innocent people.

“Last week Abbas told us to surrender our weapons and the PA would take care of the people. I surrendered all I had except for this one hand gun, for my personal safety against the Israelis. Every night I leave my home and sleep in the Mukatar [Palestinian government building in Jenin City].
“We have every right to live like the Israelis. My dream is for a viable Palestinian state, but they have cut up the West Bank and the only way to solve the problem is to give Palestinians the right to live like human beings everywhere else in the world, the right to our land, to move with freedom, the right to a good life like the Israelis.

“I have no hope for the immediate future, but I have hope for my children that American taxes will stop going to buy Apache helicopters that bomb them. My dream is that there will be a political agreement between Israel and Palestine and so all children can live in peace. Our relationship with Christians is we are brothers. We are looking to have peace with all the sons of Abraham.”

I stand to thank him for his time just as his mobile phone rings. It was Zechariah the number one commander of the underground El Katib Fatah resistance movement and he had agreed to speak with me, in the proverbial “five minutes.” In Palestine five minutes can easily take hours, but I sit back down and Krozow brings the fruit out. After a forty-minute wait another phone call and the message received is to leave the camp and drive to where Zechariah is staying that day.

The priest tells me, “Zechariah is number one on the wanted list by the Israelis. He is the top man in Jenin and spends his day solving many of the social problems. His mother and brother were both murdered by the Israelis and his three brothers are in prison. Abbas has asked for his support, for Abbas is very worried about Hamas. Hamas has a very different way of thinking and we don’t hate them, but we hate the way they deal with the issues. No one is born a killer and violence only makes more violence. The stupidest thing Palestinians did was pick up weapons. The second stupidest thing they did was target innocent people.”

We arrive in the home of one of Zechariah’s assistant’s who tells me, “My roof is higher than the roof of Oslo. Your government is controlled by the Zionist agenda. What Americans see on TV and read in the paper is controlled by the Zionist agenda and it is not the truth of what we live and what we are like and what we want. We are living an existence under occupation for 40 years now. All occupied people have been liberated, except the Palestinians. America liberated herself from Britain and we have every right to a free life. We are a resistance movement and Israel calls it terrorism, but we call it resisting occupation.

“The resistance has no strategy to fight Israel and destroy it, or end their existence. Our resistance message to the whole world is that we are people existing under occupation and we can only exist by resisting.

“The more powerful one is the one who must make peace and that is Israel, it is up to them. The weak cannot bring peace and we are not talking peace between nations but between governments. The Holy Land always had all three religions; this land is holy to all the sons of Abraham. Religions idea is suitable for one state, but the political situation doesn’t make it possible. There is no disagreement between the Christians and Muslims here, but we do disagree with the Christians in the U.S.A. who do not come here and see the truth!

“It is wrong news that Jenin is a terrible place to come and visit. What happened in Gaza with Alan Johnston [kidnapped journalist] is not the true Palestinian culture. We are hospitable and it is not our culture to kill.

“My message to the American government is that Arab people do not trust you. You asked for democratic elections and you don’t support the suffering people, you support only Israel. Palestine is a very holy place for Jews, Christians and Muslims and there is no future for the West Bank if it remains under occupation. What we want is freedom from occupation; we want our land, water and refugee rights.”

After coffee and fruit juice, but no sign of Zachariah who was detained by dealing with many of the social problems of the people of Jenin, I thanked the ten men who had gathered with me and my three escorts in the living room for their time and information and then my driver and I headed back to Jerusalem and some more eye opening checkpoint experiences.

At the Wad Elbedar Valley checkpoint the line of cars extended around the mountain, but my driver passed by and pulled in front of the first in line and we were almost immediately waved into the checkpoint area and after the usual questions of where I am from and why had I come, the soldier handed me back my passport with, “Welcome to Israel.”

After passing through the checkpoint we joined four lines of cars at least a mile long waiting to be funneled into one. It took 30 minutes for us to reach the road home, but the other four lanes of cars waiting to go where we had come from, never moved at all. The people passed their time visiting each other and laughing. I asked my driver to ask one of them how long they had been waiting, “They don’t pay attention to the time, this is normal procedure.”

When we reached the Nablus checkpoint the cars stretched at least a half a mile long and there was no side road for NGO’s and VIP’s, so my driver went down the rocky-pitted path and reached a phalanx of rolled barb wire. Somehow, he was able to maneuver around it and turn onto the road first in line at the checkpoint. We waited ten minutes but the soldiers never waved us on, so I got out and walked over to them. They appeared stunned as I approached and announced, “Hi, I am U.S.A. and need to get back to Jerusalem. Can’t you wave us through already?”

We immediately got the wave from the soldiers and with my biggest smile I handed over my passport to one who inquired, “Why are you here?”
“To visit with a priest.”
He replied with a smile, “Have a nice day.”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

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River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Israeli occupation steps up measures in the W.B. in response to reconciliation

[ 06/05/2011 – 12:09 PM ]
WEST BANK, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation has stepped its military measures in the West Bank, through reinstating road blocks and repeated raids of Palestinian villages and towns over the past few days.
The IOF have reinstated the Shavi Shamron and Ennav roadblocks on the road connecting the northern West Bank cities of Nablus and Tulkarem. The soldiers manning the roadblocks stopped cars, searched them and examined identification papers of passengers, causing long queues, according to eyewitnesses.

Although these roadblocks were never removed the traffic was allowed to go through without thorough examination of vehicles and passengers.

Meanwhile, and in a step reminiscent of the tight siege imposed on Nablus in the early years of the decade, the IOF completely sealed the roads leading to Nablus through the Zaatarah and Hawarrah roadblocks. Commuters reported that IOF troops conducted personal searches in cubicles setup for this purpose.

An eyewitness told PIC correspondent that the IOF soldiers stopped their car and started asking the passengers what they thought of the reconciliation, then they started telling them that a return of Hamas will mean more roadblocks and more harassment from the IOF.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Justice For Palestine – Steve Biko Thomas

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Friday, February 18, 2011 at 4:54PM Gilad Atzmon

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

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