Since the Nakba: More than 100,000 martyrs, 6.4 mln refugees

15 May 2022

Source: Agencies + Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

Palestine’s Central Bureau of Statistics reveals shocking numbers related to Palestine, its martyrs, prisoners, and lands, from the Nakba until the present day.

By the end of 2020, Palestinians around the world numbered 14 million, marking a tenfold increase from their numbers in the Nakba

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) says the number of UNRWA’s Palestinian refugees reached 6.4 million by December 2020.

The center’s statistics showed that 28.4% of Palestinian refugees are currently living in 58 official UNRWA camps, with 10 in Jordan, 9 in Syria, 12 in Lebanon, 19 in the West Bank, and 8 in the Gaza Strip.

These estimates show the minimum number of Palestinian refugees, seeing as some refugees are not registered, like those forcibly displaced from Palestine after 1949 until the war of June 1967, according to UNRWA, and this also does not include those who were displaced during the 1967 war, who weren’t refugees.

According to UNRWA’s official definition, Palestinian refugees are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”

The number of Palestinians increased more than tenfold since the Nakba

The PCBS revealed that historical Palestine’s population reached around 690,000 in 1914, 8% of whom were Jews. In 1948, the population rose to more than 2 million, around 31.5% of which were Jews, as 225,000 flocked to Palestine between 1932 in 1939’s organized migration waves. 

Between 1940 and 1947, more than 93,000 Jews entered Palestine, and by 1975, the total number of Jews that immigrated to Palestine reached more than 540,000.

As for the total number of Palestinians around the world, the number was estimated in 2021 to have reached around 14 million, a tenfold increase of their numbers since the Nakba, especially since 7 million of them were living in historical Palestine, including 1.7 million living in 48-occupied territories.

Nakba cause of overpopulation in Palestine

The Palestinian Nakba turned the Gaza Strip into the world’s most densely populated area. While the population density in Palestine reached 878 persons/km2 by the end of 2021, with a density of 557 persons/km2, the Gaza Strip’s density reaches 5,855 persons/km2, knowing that 66% of Gaza’s citizens are refugees.

Furthermore, the occupation’s establishment of a buffer zone on the periphery of the Gaza Strip allowed it to seize control over 24% of the strip’s 365 km2 area, which further exacerbated the city’s economic difficulties, and impoverished over a half of its citizens, with Gaza’s poverty rate reaching 53% in 2017.

Over 100,000 martyred since the 1948 Nakba

Since the Nakba in 1948, both inside Palestine and out, close to 100,000 people were martyred, with the number of martyrs since the beginning of the Intifada reaching 11,358 between 29/9/2000 and up to 30/4/2022.

It is noted that 2014 was the bloodiest year, as 2,240 people were martyred, 2,181 of whom were martyred in Gaza during an Israeli aggression.

The number of martyrs in Palestine reached 341 in 2021, including 87 children and 48 women, whereas the number of wounded reached 12,500.

Close to 1 million arrests since 1967

The occupation has kept 25 Palestinians under arrest for over a quarter century, whereas the total number of detainees in Israeli prisons reached 4,450 in April, including 160 child prisoners, 32 women, 570 sentences to life, 700 prisoners who are in ill health, six Palestinian lawmakers, and 650 prisoners placed in administrative detention.

The overall number of arrests in 2021 reached 8,000 in Palestine, including 1,300 children and 184, while 1,595 people were sentenced to administrative detention without any charges being brought up against them.

226 prisoners have been martyred since 1967, either because of torture inflicted upon them following their arrest or due to medical neglect; these include 103 prisoners that were martyred since September 2000.

Continued colonialist expansion of Israeli occupation

By the end of 2020, 712,815 illegal settlers were living in the West Bank, around 47% of whom (246,909) were living in Al-Quds. The settler/Palestinian ratio reached 23/100 in the West Bank and surged to 71/100 in Al-Quds.

Moreover, 2021 also witnessed a large increase in the speed at which Israeli settlements were built in the West Bank, as Israeli occupation forces approved the building of more than 12,000 new settlement units in 2021, including 9,000 on the lands of Al-Quds’ Qalandia airport.

Continued confiscation of land

The Israeli occupation abused the categorization of lands according to the Oslo Accords (A, B and C) in order to further its control on Palestinian C-classified lands, which are completely under Israeli control in terms of security, planning, and construction, and close to 76% of their area are currently being exploited.

Al-Quds: Displacement and settlement policies

In 2021, Israeli occupation authorities approved the building of more than 12,000 settlement units, most of which were in Al-Quds. Meanwhile, it demolished more than 300 buildings and gave orders to demolish more than 200 others, in addition to approving a project to seize 2,050 Palestinian properties, including those of the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods in eastern Al-Quds, whose area is estimated at 2,500 acres.

Last year also saw close to 1,621 cases of attacks by settlers protected by occupation forces against Palestinians and their properties, marking a 49% increase in attacks from 2020. Israeli settlers are also exploiting around 120,000 acres of Palestinian lands for agriculture.

20% of water in Palestine is bought from Mekorot

Israeli measures against Palestinian water resources force them to compensate for their lack of water by buying 20% of their water from Israeli company Mekorot, meaning around 448.4 million m3. The main reason behind Palestinians’ inability to use surface water is due to the Israeli occupation’s control over the Jordan River and Dead Sea’s waters.

79% of available water drawn from groundwater

Palestine mainly relies on water extracted from surface and groundwater, which constitutes around 79% of all available water resources. In 2020, the amount of water pumped from groundwater wells (eastern, western, and northeastern basins) in the West Bank amounted to 108.6 million m3.

Gaza’s Forthcoming Crisis Might Be Worse than Anything We Have Ever Seen

March 30, 2022

Israel deprives Palestinians of benefiting from natural resources of water. (Photo: Iyad al Baba, via Oxfam)

By Ramzy Baroud

“The water is back,” one family member would announce in a mix of excitement and panic, often very late at night. The moment such an announcement was made, my whole family would start running in all directions to fill every tank, container or bottle that could possibly be filled. Quite often, the water would last for a few minutes, leaving us with a collective sense of defeat, worrying about the very possibility of surviving.

This was our life under Israeli military occupation in Gaza. The tactic of holding Palestinians hostage to Israel’s water charity was so widespread during the First Palestinian Intifada, or uprising , to the extent that denying water supplies to targeted refugee camps, villages, towns or whole regions was the first measure taken to subdue the rebellious population. This was often followed by military raids, mass arrests and deadly violence; but it almost always began with cutting Palestinians off from their water supplies.

Israel’s water war on the Palestinians has changed since those early days, especially as the Climate Change crisis has accelerated Israel’s need to prepare for grim future possibilities. Of course, this largely happens at the expense of the occupied Palestinians. In the West Bank, the Israeli government continues to usurp Palestinian water resources from the region’s main aquifers – the Mountain Aquifer and the Coastal Aquifer. Frustratingly, Israel’s main water company, Mekorot, sells stolen Palestinian water to Palestinian villages and towns, especially in the northern West Bank region, at exorbitant prices.

Aside from the ongoing profiteering from water theft, Israel continues to use water as a form of collective punishment in the West Bank, while quite often denying Palestinians, especially in Area C, the right to dig new wells to circumvent Israel’s water monopoly.

According to Amnesty International, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank consume, on average, 73 liters of water a day, per person. Compare this to an Israeli citizen, who consumes approximately 240 liters of water a day, and, even worse, to an illegal Israeli Jewish settler, who consumes over 300 liters per day. The Palestinian share of water is not only far below the average consumed by Israelis, but is even below the recommended daily minimum of 100 liters per capita as designated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

As difficult as the situation for West Bank Palestinians is, in Gaza the humanitarian catastrophe is already in effect. On the occasion of World Water Day on March 22, Gaza’s Water and Environmental Quality Authority warned of a ‘massive crisis’ should Gaza’s water supplies continue to deplete at the current dangerous rate. The Authority’s spokesman, Mazen al-Banna, told reporters that 98 percent of Gaza’s water supplies are not fit for human consumption.

The consequences of this terrifying statistic are well known to Palestinians and, in fact, to the international community as well. Last October, Muhammed Shehada of the Euro-Med Monitor, told the 48th UN Human Rights Council session that about one-quarter of all diseases in Gaza are caused by water pollution, and that an estimated twelve percent of deaths among Gaza’s children are “linked to intestinal infections related to contaminated water.”

But how did Gaza get to this point?

On May 25, four days after the end of the latest Israeli war on Gaza, the charity, Oxfam, announced that 400,000 people in besieged Gaza have had no access to regular water supplies. The reason is that Israeli military campaigns always begin with the targeting of Palestinian electric grids, water services and other vital public facilities. According to Oxfam, “11 days of bombardment … severely impacted the three main desalination plants in Gaza city.”

It is important to keep in mind that the water crisis in Gaza has been ongoing for years, and every aspect of this protracted crisis is linked to Israel. With damaged or ailing infrastructure, much of Gaza’s water contains dangerously high salinity levels, or is extremely polluted by sewage and other reasons.

Even before Israel redeployed its forces out of Gaza in 2005 to impose a siege on the Strip’s population from land, sea and air, Gaza had a water crisis. Gaza’s coastal aquifer was entirely controlled by the Israeli military administration, which diverted quality water to the few thousand Jewish settlers, while occasionally allocating high saline water to the then 1.5 million Palestinian people, granted that Palestinians did not protest or resist the Israeli occupation in any way.

Nearly 17 years later, Gaza’s population has grown to 2.1 millions, and Gaza’s already struggling aquifer is in a far worse shape. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that water from Gaza’s aquifer is depleting due to “over-extraction (because) people have no other choice”.

“Worse, pollution and an influx of seawater mean that only four percent of the aquifer water is fit to drink. The rest must be purified and desalinated to make it drinkable,” UNICEF added. In other words, Gaza’s problem is not the lack of access to existing freshwater reserves as the latter simply do not exist or are rapidly depleting, but the lack of technology and fuel that would give Palestinians in Gaza the ability to make their water nominally drinkable. Even that is not a long term solution.

Israel is doing its utmost to destroy any Palestinian chances at recovery from this ongoing crisis. More, it seems that Tel Aviv is only invested in making the situation worse to jeopardize Palestinian chances of survival. For example, last year, Palestinians accused Israel of deliberately flooding thousands of Palestinian dunums in Gaza when it vented its southern dams, which Israel uses to collect rain water. The almost yearly ritual by Israel continues to devastate Gaza’s ever shrinking farming areas, the backbone of Palestinian survival under Israel’s hermetic siege.

The international community often pays attention to Gaza during times of Israeli wars; and even then, the attention is mostly negative, where Palestinians are usually accused of provoking Israel’s supposed defensive wars. The truth is that even when Israel’s military campaigns end, Tel Aviv continues to wage war on the Strip’s inhabitants.

Though militarily powerful, Israel claims that it is facing an ‘existential threat’ in the Middle East. In actuality, it is the Palestinian existence that is in real jeopardy. When almost all of Gaza’s water is not fit for human consumption because of a deliberate Israeli strategy, one can understand why Palestinians continue to fight back as if their lives are dependent on it; because they are.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Al-Naqab and Diyar Bir Al-Sab’…The social composition and the people

16 Jan2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Sabreen Al-A’sam

Although the Israeli occupation displaced a large portion of the people of Diyar Bir Al-Sab’ (al-Naqab) in 1948, these lands are still attributed to their owners, some of whom are descendants of tribes originating from the Arabian and Sinai peninsulas.

Some of Al-Naqab’s Bedouins are descendants from Bedouin tribes in the Arabian Peninsula

Diyar Bi’r Al-Sab’, otherwise known as the desert of Al-Naqab, comprises almost half the historical area of the land of Palestine, meaning close to 12,577,000 dunums (1 dunum ~ 1,000  square meters).

Although it’s called a desert, it actually isn’t one; yet, it is a mix of very fertile agricultural land, dry rocky mountainous lands, and sandy lands, and all of them have large amounts of groundwater, according to studies performed by Arab experts in the field, not to mention sizeable mineral riches found in the region.

This large area has been inhabited by Bedouins for hundreds of years, during which they owned title deeds that were written with legible legal wording since the days of the Ottoman Empire. The British mandate also issued them specific deeds that asserted their ownership of the lands. These vast lands are still attributed to their owners, those currently living there, or those displaced, as the Israeli occupation forcibly displaced a large number of them in the Nakba of 1948.

It also worked during the 1950s to forcibly displace a large number of the rest and concentrate them in an area called Al-Siyaj (the fence), robbing them of a large portion of their lands, which it later turned to a closed militarized zone, despite people still living there. The Bedouins were thus left with only 2% of their lands; still, Israeli occupation authorities try today to confiscate what little they have left, and forcibly remove them to ghettos that lack even the basic elements of a normal life.

Bedouin society: A sacred outlook on land

Al-Naqab’s Bedouins are former nomads that used to travel with their cattle according to the seasons from one area to another, each within the recognized boundaries of their lands, as Bedouin tribes have always respected others’ lands, which for them was something they held very sacred, like one’s honor. Later on, they became semi-nomads that lived on raising cattle and agriculture in unrecognized villages, while those who were forcibly concentrated in sedentary towns developed a more comfortable lifestyle, much like that of towns and cities. Still, people still raise cattle in these towns under very restricted conditions.

The Bedouin society is a traditional and conservative society. Some of Al-Naqab’s Bedouin tribes are descended from the Arabian peninsula’s bedouin tribes, and some from the Sinai peninsula’s. In Al-Naqab, a clan is a specific social unit, and the tribe is a grouping of clans that existed in Palestine before 1948, a small number of which remained after the Nakba. In Al-Naqab, clans are split into Rub’, the Rub’ into big families (Hama’el), and each big family split into smaller families.

Al-Naqab historian Dr. Mansour Al-Nasasirah says in his book Badw Al-Naqab wa Bir Al-Sab’ (The Bedouins of Al-Naqab and Bir Al-Sab’: 100 Years of Politics and Resistance) that out of 95 clans that existed in the south of Palestine during the British mandate, only 19 remained in Al-Naqab and Bir Al-Sab’ after the Nakba. These 19 were forcibly gathered after 1948 and taken directly to the Al-Siyaj area northeast of Bir Al-Sab’ until 1967. 

It should be said that the number 19 here goes back to the Israeli concept of the remains of the clans that were recognized, despite there being a much larger number of clans, but the idea was to group the ones that were left under these 19 in order to better control them after 1948. These were the clan leaders that Ben-Gurion’s government ‘acknowledged’.

Al-Nasasirah also clarifies that the policies that were applied against Al-Naqab’s Bedouins in the 1950s, after they were grouped in Al-Siyaj, included the separation of clans while keeping peaceful clans intact, forcefully ejecting clans that remained in the western and northern regions of Al-Naqab to Al-Siyaj, appointing new clan leaders, confiscating their lands by passing new laws, robbing them of their historical ownership, and conducting censuses that aim to keep them under strict observation at all times.

A systemic attack on Al-Naqab’s traditions

The people of Al-Naqab respect each other’s land ownership, even if they’re not registered on paper, and they are arbitrated in accordance with the binding Bedouin traditions and rulings in these matters. Land, just as one’s family, is considered something that cannot be assaulted or taken for granted. These traditions were, however, not listed in the rules of the occupation, especially in this period of time. Al-Naqab was a very neglected region for them, until the first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion drew attention to it and built his residence there, as he famously said “we wish to protect the desert in Al-Naqab, to protect the vacuum.”

Lastly, censuses show that the population of Al-Naqab is about 380,000, half of whom live in sedentary villages and the other half still steadfast in their villages – which the Israeli occupation authorities do not acknowledge – under living conditions that can be said at best to be unsuitable for human life and the modern way of living in the third millennium. They live in these villages without any infrastructure, water, electricity, schools, or infirmaries, in houses that are all made of tin that can neither protect them from the heat of summer nor from the cold of winter.

The Negev Intifada and Existential Danger.. Where will things go?

Jordan-UAE-“Israel” Deal Proves ‘2-State Solution’ Dead For Arab Reactionary Regimes

1 Dec 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Robert Inlakesh

This agreement constitutes, not only a move against a two-State solution that Jordan claims to achieve but also an act of Arab collaboration with a usurper entity that seeks to impoverish and erase the native Palestinian inhabitants of the land.

Stirring tensions between the Jordanian public and its rulers, Amman signed its biggest ever cooperation deal with Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi. As protesters opposing the deal took to the streets, facing arrests and beatings, Jordanian King Abdullah II continued to ignore the violations carried out against not only Palestinians but Jordanians, in East Jerusalem by “Israel”.

Whilst “Israel” continues to violate the sanctity of the Third Holiest site in Islam, the al-Aqsa Mosque, which is supposed to be under the special custodianship of the Hashemite ruler of Jordan, the King completely ignores the site and instead signs a historic energy-water swap deal. 

In recent years, a legacy of tension between former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and King Abdullah II of Jordan, had come to a boiling point after speculation caused the King to believe Saudi Arabia may take over his nation’s custodianship of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites. Yet since the current Israeli PM, Naftali Bennett, had organized a secret meeting this July, the Israeli-Jordanian relationship seems to have been restored, after a three-year period of no high-level contact.

To add insult to injury, “Israel” has been raising one of the oldest Islamic-Palestinian burial sites, the Al-Yusofiya Cemetery, in recent months and had unearthed the remains of Jordanian soldiers in the process. The desecration of graves in the area comes so that “Israel” can build Jewish sites for settlers on top of it. Not only has the Jordanian King refused to act to prevent further unearthing of graves at the site, but has continued to ignore the house demolitions, settler home takeovers, and settler raids into the al-Aqsa Mosque, all taking place in East Jerusalem.

On November 22, a deal between Jordan-UAE-“Israel” was signed, which would see an Emirati firm, called Masdar, construct a massive solar panel farm on Jordanian territory. The Solar Farm will be designed to generate energy for “Israel”, not Jordan, creating roughly 180 million dollars in revenue each year, half of which will be made by Amman and the other half belonging to Masdar. “Israel” in return has agreed to provide Jordan with 200 million cubic meters of water, which the Israelis will desalinate and draw from the Mediterranean sea.

Although the deal only serves the UAE, Jordan, and “Israel”, the plan was actually first presented by an NGO, called ‘EcoPeace Middle East’, that the Palestinian Authority (PA) be involved in some meaningful way, yet this has not come to fruition as of yet. The West Bank currently has a major water crisis for Palestinians who are prevented from accessing their water from the Basin below them. In Gaza, “Israel” purposely destroyed Gaza’s primary aquifer and has allowed seawater intrusion, making it irreparable. Gaza’s water is currently 97% undrinkable, essentially making it so that Palestinians are forced to bathe in and drink contaminated water, causing rampant illness. Therefore, this agreement constitutes, not only a move against a two-State solution that Jordan claims to achieve but also an act of Arab collaboration with a usurper entity which seeks to impoverish and erase the native Palestinian inhabitants of the land.

The joke of the century is that “Israel”, which exploits the resources of the West Bank and the Leviathan gas fields off the occupied Palestinian coast, is working on this project with the joint aim of combating climate change. According to the Brookings Institute – a think-tank based in Washington DC – this is a good move as it utilizes clean energy and represents a push by “Israel”, the UAE, and Jordan towards a climate-wise future. It is ironic that “Israel”, which constantly drops thousands of tons of explosives all over the Middle East and has created an environment in the Gaza Strip – that it illegally besieges – which according to experts at the UN has been uninhabitable for human beings since the start of 2020, is now viewed as a progressive State on climate. The mainstream dialogue on Climate Change, between Western powers and their Arab reactionary allies, is not only a farce, it’s an attempt to brainwash their populations into believing that they are led by responsible leaderships. You can’t drop millions of tons of toxic explosives and then turn around claiming to care about the impact of the emissions let off by conventional energy consumption.

In reaction to this move by the Jordanian regime, students of the Hashemite University of Jordan gathered in protest of the move, singing a popular Arab Nationalist song ‘Mawtini’. Another demonstration was organized at the University of Jordan, calling on their authorities to release protesters who have been arrested for voicing opposition to the deal and urging them to abandon the agreement, which implicates Jordan in the Trump-era normalization deals. The Jordanian public overwhelmingly reject Arab normalization with “Israel” and regard the ‘peace treaty’ signed between “Israel” and Jordan in 1994 as a betrayal.

Jordan’s Minister of Water, Mohammed Al-Najjar, says that “Jordan is not building its water strategy on this declaration, if it is turned into an agreement, it will be presented to the parliament for approval.” Whilst Al-Najjar says it is not connected to the normalization deals, this is clearly not seen as being the case by fellow Jordanian officials who have come out strongly against the move. For many Jordanians, the fact that “Israel” had historically benefited from the diversion of the Jordan River leaves a bad taste in their mouth and so now relying on “Israel” for their water supply is not only a matter of pride, but also puts the nation in a very weak position.

But the Amman-Tel Aviv cooperation doesn’t end there. The Palestinian Authority (PA), led by President Mahmoud Abbas, is facing an economic crisis in the West Bank, amidst an environment descending into outright rejectionism of its altruistic self-rule. Palestinians in Nablus, Jenin, Al-Khalil, and elsewhere are taking it upon themselves to form armed groups to resist “Israel’s” occupation, which the PA fears will turn on its own security forces. “Israel” has pursued all avenues necessary, including giving the PA a 155 Million dollar loan in August, as well as calling on foreign powers like the EU to increase their funding. Taking this further, “Israel’s” ‘Minister of Economy’ Orna Barbivai and Jordan’s ‘Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply’ Yousef Al-Shamali, met earlier this month and secured a deal on West Bank export to the PA from Jordan. The deal secured is speculated to boost West Bank bound exports from Jordan annually, meaning that the 150 million dollars of exports will increase to as much as 700 million dollars worth.

Although Jordan claims to care for a “Two-State Solution”, the Hashemite ruler continues to demonstrate that he couldn’t care less. It’s a matter of words over reality, King Abdullah II doesn’t have a sense of pride on the matters of Jerusalem or the Palestinian people, it’s simply an act and his cooperation with the occupation shows this clearly.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Water as Weapon of War: Activists Say Israel is Drying Out the West Bank to Drive Out Palestinians

October 06th, 2021

By Jessica Buxbaum

Source

MASAFER YATTA, OCCUPIED WEST BANK — Last weekend, around 600 Israeli, Palestinian and international activists marched across Masafer Yatta in the Occupied West Bank to deliver a water tanker to Palestinian villagers. Their message was clear: Water is a human right, and Israel is depriving Palestine of this basic necessity.

Amid a sea of rippling Palestinian flags, demonstrators walked alongside a tractor transporting the water tanker from the village of At-Tuwani. The protesters did not reach their intended destination. Instead, they turned back at the village of Mfakara in order to avoid a confrontation with the Israeli Army waiting for them atop a nearby hill.

Demonstrators attempt to deliver a water tank from the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani.

“Water is a right for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re Black or white or Jewish or Arab,” ​​Adam Rabee — an activist with Combatants for Peace (CFP), one of the march’s organizers — told MintPress News.

On Monday, CFP, along with other human rights organizations, submitted an urgent appeal to international bodies, demanding they “pressure Israel to allow access to water to Palestinians living in Area C,” the Occupied West Bank area that includes Masafer Yatta.

CFP started the water accessibility campaign for Palestine in August. In September, they led a field visit to Masafer Yatta for 20 diplomats from the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Switzerland. During the tour, CFP raised awareness of Palestine’s water crisis and urged the representatives to engage in dialogue with Israel toward providing Palestinians with full access to water.

“[The diplomats] saw families and children without water,” Rabee said of the visit. “My feeling is that they want to help and we have support.”

Soldiers aiding settlers in water attacks

Saturday’s protest was calm and without clashes, but the event was underscored by earlier violence.

Tuesday of that week, at least 60 masked Israeli settlers raided Mfakara — throwing stones, turning over cars, cutting water pipes and slitting the throats of sheep. Five children were injured during the attack, including a four-year-old boy who was sent to the hospital after being pelted in the head with rocks. Israeli soldiers watched from the sidelines — during what activists are describing as a “pogrom”– intervening only to fire tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians.

Earlier in September, a CFP protest to deliver water to Palestinian communities was met with violence from Israeli soldiers. Six Israelis and two Palestinans were injured — including Rabee, who was hit in the stomach with a tear-gas canister.

Protesters held blown-up images of the recent violence as they marched last weekend. In Mfakara, the ground was strewn with shards of glass. Several of the villagers’ cars were dented and the windshields shattered.

The windshield of a Palestinian villager’s car was shattered when Israeli settlers and soldiers attacked the village of Mfakara.

Noma Hamamdah, a Palestinian shepherd living in Mfakara, picked up a tear gas canister off the ground outside his home. He said this was one of 20 launched at the community by the army on Tuesday. He lifted his pants’ leg to reveal where he was hit with a rubber bullet. His daughter-in-law, Sabreen Hamamdah, said the army fired tear gas into their homes and settlers slashed the tires of their water tanker during the raid.

Noma Hamamdah with his son.

“Since last Tuesday we didn’t get water until today,” Noma said, referring to the delivery of the new tanker from activists. “The army aids the settlers and it’s because of the army the settlers have the ability to attack us and destroy our water tanks.” Eight windows in the family’s home were broken, Noma said. He pointed to a bullet hole in the wall of his house where Israeli soldiers fired when trying to disperse settlers. “We’ve been told [President Joe] Biden is a man of peace and he loves peace, but we’ve never heard him mention the Palestinians even once,” Noma continued. “And if the Havat Maon illegal settlement leaves us alone, then there will be peace in this area.”

Noma Hamamdah standing next to his water cistern, in which he stores the water.

Havat Maon is a notoriously violent, illegal settlement outpost adjacent to the Palestinians villages in Masafer Yatta. All of Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law but legal under Israeli law. Outposts, constructed without Israeli authority, are defined as illegal by both international and Israeli law.

Living without water

On days without water, Mfkara operates much like a commune. “We usually borrow from each other and when the water comes, we redivide the water,” Noma said.

Sabreen described how household chores like washing dishes, doing laundry and bathing the children are put off until water is replenished. “I have to put everything on hold until there is water,” she told MintPress. “I can’t do anything until the water comes back.”

Noma Hamamdah’s daughter-in-law, Sabreen.

Sabreen receives 20 liters of water (about 5 gallons) costing 500 shekels ($155) from At-Tuwani, or she sources water from a nearby aquifer. That same amount of water costs nearby Israeli settlers about 100 shekels or $30. Water is stored in a cistern serving 10 people for domestic, agricultural and livestock use and may last between two to four days.

The average American uses between 80-100 gallons of water per day for indoor use. This number doesn’t account for outdoor water use, which, for herding communities like Masafer Yatta, is a significant portion of their water consumption. According to the Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG), Palestinians in the West Bank consume about 18 gallons of water per day. This is below the World Health Organization recommendation of 26-31 gallons of water daily to maintain a basic standard of living. By comparison, Israelis use about 80 gallons of water per day and Israeli settlers may use up to 210 gallons daily.

The history of water apartheid

When Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza after the 1967 war, it took control of the areas’ water resources. The state established pumping quotas and banned construction of new wells in the occupied territories.

Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, was put in charge of the Occupied Palestinian Territories’ (oPT) water in 1982. By 1986, pumping quotas were reduced by 10 percent for Palestinian wells — fostering greater water insecurity.

The 1995 Oslo II Accord was portrayed as a turning point for water independence in Palestine. The Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) and Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee were created but Israel retained control of the flow and volume of water given to the oPT. Despite the name, the PWC doesn’t oversee water resources. Instead its role is to distribute the limited water supply Israel provides.

The agreement was supposed to last only five years but remains in effect today. Under the initiative, 80 percent of the West Bank’s water is for Israeli use and 20 percent is for Palestinian use. Israelis also enjoy an unlimited supply of water while Palestinians have their supply restricted.

What was billed as a cooperative venture between Palestine and Israel is merely the occupation of water in disguise.

“There are no official meetings between the Palestinans and the Israelis because the Israelis don’t consider us as a counterpart,” Dr. Abdelrahman Al Tamimi, PHG’s director, said.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) nonetheless told MintPress that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for providing water to the West Bank and touted collaboration between Palestine and Israel.

“Master programs are being promoted in the area of Judea and Samaria [West Bank], which will address the water supply until the years 2040-2050, to all populations in the area. We will note that these programs are being coordinated with the Palestinian Water Authority and [have] even been shifted in light of its requests,” a COGAT spokesperson said.

“The only solution for lack of water is water”

Dr. Al Tamimi outlined the three main reasons for water scarcity in the oPT — all originating from Israel’s occupation.

First, Israel has not increased the West Bank’s water quota to meet the demands of its rapidly growing population, which is now nearly double what it was in 1995. Al Tamimi explained Israel only increased the commercial consumption (about 10-12 percent of the demand) to around 160 million gallons.

Al Tamimi added that the Oslo II Accord doesn’t allow for Palestinians to do groundwater drilling — eliminating this as a possible water resource. And finally, owing to Israeli military control of Area C of the West Bank, Palestinians are often blocked from developing wells and springs in the region.

Al Tamimi explained these three main factors have intensified the water crisis, specifically in remote Palestinian communities, noting “Some villages in the south of Hebron or north of Jenin receive water twice a month or once a week.”

Water access varies by region in the West Bank. Urban and developed areas have running water while villages Israel prevents from connecting to a water grid rely mostly on costly trucks delivering water that is then stored in black and white tanks on people’s roofs.

“When water is moved from place to place, it’s vulnerable to pollution,” Al Tamimi said. “Because you cannot guarantee the cleanliness of the truck, how they pumped water from the well to the truck and how they empty the trucks. Water is vulnerable to be polluted by air, by bacteria and by other things.”

“The problem is there is no monitoring and there is no authority controlling the quality of water in Area C,” he added.

Palestinians also have to pay a relatively high price for potentially unsafe water. Tanker prices increase when transported on rough terrain — another infrastructural problem, caused by Israel forbidding these communities to pave their roads.

“According to international standards, the average cost of the water bill should not be more than 1 percent of that family’s income. But in some Palestinian villages, they pay more than 10 or 12 percent of their income just to purchase the water,” Al Tamimi said. “The only solution for lack of water is water. There are no other alternatives.”

Access to water in Area C is exacerbated by Israel’s systematic policy of demolishing and confiscating water equipment and resources. Italian NGO WeWorld reported nearly 10 percent of the buildings demolished by Israeli forces in 2020 were water, sanitation and hygiene structures.

CFP’s statement said:

The Military Commander of the West Bank justifies these practices by saying that the Palestinian communities in Area C did not receive building permits; however, the Israeli government’s own policy does not allow Palestinians to obtain building permits in this area. At the same time, all the Israeli outposts and settlers who live in buildings without legal permits are allowed to connect to the water grid.

Activists from the Israeli organization Combatants for Peace hold a banner demanding water for all.

For CFP’s Rabee, water deprivation in Area C highlights the severe discrimination Israel perpetuates. “The Palestinian man can only get water three days a week. And then this illegal outpost next to it has running water,” Rabee said. “So it’s just a very stark example of apartheid.”

After Idlib and the Kurds… What about the Euphrates and the Tigris? بعد إدلب والكرد.. ماذا عن الفرات ودجلة؟

 ARABI SOURI 

Euphrates River - Syria and Iraq Water - Turkey
حسني محلي
International relations researcher and specialist in Turkish affairs

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

After Turkey has become a main party in the overall developments of the Syrian file with the years of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, Ankara has developed many scenarios and calculations for its future relations with Damascus, and through it with the rest of the region, especially Iraq which is bordering Turkey, Syria, and Iran.

The waters of the Euphrates, Tigris and other small rivers (about 12 rivers with Syria and 3 with Iraq) come within these calculations, especially with the continuing dry seasons, which seem to be reflected in one way or another on Ankara’s water policies in the future with the two mentioned countries.

The water of the Euphrates has always been an important material in Turkish bargaining with Syria and Iraq, together or separately since Turkey began building dams on the Euphrates River, the first of which was the Kaban Dam which was inaugurated in 1974, and then the Karakaya Dam in 1987. The Ataturk Dam, which was inaugurated in 1991 was the most important in the water crisis between Turkey and both Syria and Iraq, especially after Prime Minister Suleiman Demirel said in 1991 ‘The Arab countries sell their oil, so why we do not sell our water also?’.

Ankara has insisted from the beginning on building dams after it refused to sign the international agreement (1997) that regulates the joint use of shared international water, including the Nile, the Euphrates and the Tigris, and it says that the last two are Turkish rivers crossing the border and they are not two shared rivers and that it has the right to dispose of its waters as it wishes, taking into account the interests of the downstream countries.

The roots of the Turkish water crisis with Syria and Iraq go back to the year 1920 when ‘tripartite and bilateral’ agreements were signed between Turkey and both Syria (a French colony) and Iraq (a British colony) to divide the water according to international standards followed at the time. The ‘Lausanne’ agreement (1923) by which Western countries recognized the modern Turkish republic, the heir to the Ottoman Empire, included a clause regarding the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, stating: “No country from these three countries has the right to build a dam or a reservoir or divert a river course without coordinating with other countries to ensure that their interests are not harmed.’

With the independence of Syria and Iraq, water remained a fundamental problem hindering the establishment of lasting friendly relations between the three countries, which has enough other problems that prevented them from developing relations between them, with the Syrian and Iraqi doubts always regarding the possibility that the Turkish side would use water as a weapon against them.

The documents of the US embassy in Tehran (November 4, 1979) indicated that “the CIA proposed to the Director General of the National Water Corporation, Suleiman Demirel in the year 1955-1956, to build large dams on the Euphrates, to be a weapon in Ankara’s hand against Syria, whose relations were bad at that time with Turkey.’

This explains the failure of the agreement signed by President Turgut Ozal in 1987 with the late President Hafez al-Assad, after it was affected by the tensions in the relations between the two countries, due to Ankara’s accusation of Damascus of supporting the PKK, if we ignore the psychological-influencing issue of the Iskenderun Strip.

According to the 1987 agreement, the Turkish side pledged to leave 500 cubic meters per second of the Euphrates water for Syria (42%) and Iraq (58%), provided that this amount would increase to reach 650 cubic meters after 5 years, in exchange for Damascus giving up this support, without this agreement preventing Ankara from building the dams of Perajik (50 km from the border with Syria) and Qaraqamish (3 km from the Syrian border) and two dams on the Tigris River, while the National Water Corporation plans to build a total of 22 dams on the two mentioned rivers, to reach the amount of the water that will be stored in these dams amounts to about 140 billion cubic meters.

Ankara plans to irrigate 1.8 million hectares of agricultural land with this water, and it also aims to generate 27 billion kilowatt hours of electricity (23% of Turkey’s consumption) from these dams, in addition to about 750 dams of various sizes (550 of which are large dams) built by Turkey on dozens of small and large rivers, the length of which exceeds 20 thousand km inside the Turkish borders.

President Erdogan’s statements last week in which when he said, “Turkey is not rich in water, as some believe,” raised many questions about the possibilities of using water as a weapon in Ankara’s potential bargains with Syria and Iraq, and most importantly with the “SDF” and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units that control the East of the Euphrates with the support of Washington, which Ankara fears that it seeks to establish an independent Kurdish entity in the region as is the case in northern Iraq.

Official Turkish circles develop many scenarios regarding water policies that include serious studies about water sources, including rain and groundwater, in addition to the mentioned rivers, which number more than 100.

These studies estimate the total capacity of surface (rain) and groundwater that can be utilized at about 115 billion cubic meters, of which about 60 billion cubic meters are used annually. These figures prompted Ankara to implement many projects to build underground dams, a new technology that contributes to storing groundwater as is the case in the rivers on which Ankara builds its dams.

These accounts did not prevent Ankara from continuing to build hundreds of dams on dozens of rivers that flow into its lands and flow into the seas (Aegean, Mediterranean, Marmara and Black), or leave it to other neighboring countries, including Iran, Georgia, Armenia, Bulgaria and Greece, or come from these countries, in. At the time when Turkey succeeded in laying the pipeline (80 km) that carries water under the sea (75 million cubic meters annually) to Turkish northern Cyprus with plans to sell this water to the Greek Cypriots, and even to ‘Israel’, the late President Turgut Ozal failed in his water pipeline project to ‘Israel’ through Syria and Lebanon, and another pipeline extending to the Gulf countries via Jordan to sell the water of the Saihan and Caihan rivers to these countries.

Many academic studies in the West see the Turkish datum as a sufficient reason for both Iraq and Syria to fear about the possible repercussions of Ankara’s policies with the two countries mentioned with the Kurdish element in them, everyone knows that Ankara’s implementation of its projects on the Euphrates, Tigris and other small rivers will put Iraq and Syria in front of serious challenges that will be cause serious implications for agriculture, food security, drinking water and energy generation, especially with the environmental fluctuations that threaten of drought years, according to all scientific studies worldwide.

As Ankara continues its current policies in Syria and Iraq, it has become clear that sooner or later it will use water as an influential card in its bargaining with Damascus, Baghdad and the Kurds, who are the primary beneficiaries of the waters of the Euphrates, the Tigris and other small rivers, given that the Syrian dams are in the “SDF”. This explains the presence of Ankara in Afrin (Afrin River) west of the Euphrates in general, in addition to the area extending from Ras al-Ain to Tal Abyad, where many of the small Turkish rivers enter Syria, without ignoring their presence in Jarablus, the entrance to the Euphrates into Syria, and its attempt to control Ayn al-Arab (Kobane), which is on the eastern bank of the river, similarly is the case in northern Iraq, as Turkey succeeded in establishing many military bases in the strategic mountains overlooking or near the waterways, including the Tigris and the Great Zab.

The bet or hope remains in the possibilities of returning to friendly relations between Ankara and each of Damascus and Baghdad, and even Iran, which is also a party to the water issue, especially with Iraq, after Ankara succeeded after 2003 in establishing friendly relations with Syria, Iraq, Iran and the rest of the countries of the region; President Erdogan, and before him President Abdullah Gul, announced more than once that “there is no longer a so-called water problem with the two aforementioned neighbors so that Mesopotamia will return again as the cradle of the civilizations that lived in it thousands of years ago.” This is what has been blown in the wind and the feelings of brotherhood and friendship between Ankara and both Baghdad and Damascus have become forgotten, after the policies of “zeroing problems with neighbors” succeeded in “zeroing the neighbors”, and water will soon be their most difficult concern!

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بعد إدلب والكرد.. ماذا عن الفرات ودجلة؟

حسني محلي
باحث علاقات دولية ومختصص بالشأن التركي

حسني محلي 

المصدر: الميادين نت

4 شباط

تضع الأوساط التركية الرسمية العديد من السيناريوهات في ما يتعلق بالسياسات المائية التي تتضمّن دراسات جدية حول مصادر المياه، ومنها الأمطار والمياه الجوفية، إضافةً إلى الأنهار المذكورة التي يزيد عددها على 100 نهر. 

بعد إدلب والكرد.. ماذا عن الفرات ودجلة؟

بعد أن أصبحت تركيا طرفاً أساسياً في مجمل تطورات الملف السوري مع سنوات ما يسمى بـ”الربيع العربي”، وضعت أنقرة العديد من السيناريوهات والحسابات لعلاقاتها المستقبلية مع دمشق، وعبرها مع باقي دول المنطقة، وفي مقدمتها العراق المجاور لتركيا وسوريا وإيران. 

وتأتي مياه الفرات ودجلة والأنهار الصغيرة الأخرى (حوالى 12 نهراً مع سوريا و3 مع العراق) ضمن هذه الحسابات، وخصوصاً مع استمرار مواسم الجفاف التي يبدو أنها ستنعكس بشكل أو بآخر على سياسات أنقرة المائية مستقبلاً مع الدولتين المذكورتين. 

وكانت مياه الفرات دائماً مادة مهمة في المساومات التركية مع سوريا والعراق معاً أو على انفراد، منذ أن بدأت تركيا ببناء السّدود على نهر الفرات، وأولها سدّ كابان الذي تمّ افتتاحه في العام 1974، ثم سدّ كاراكايا في العام 1987. وكان سدّ أتاتورك الذي تمّ افتتاحه في العام 1991 هو الأهم في أزمة المياه بين تركيا وكل من سوريا والعراق، وخصوصاً بعد أن قال رئيس الوزراء سليمان ديمريل في العام 1991 “إن الدول العربية تبيع نفطها، فلماذا لا نبيع أيضاً مياهنا؟”. 

وقد أصرّت أنقرة منذ البداية على بناء السّدود بعد أن رفضت التوقيع على الاتفاقية الدولية (1997) التي تنظم عملية الاستخدام المشترك لمياه المجاري الدولية المشتركة، ومنها النيل والفرات ودجلة، وهي تقول إنّ الأخيرين نهران تركيان عابران للحدود، وليسا نهرين مشتركين، ومن حقّها التصرف بمياهها كما تشاء، مع مراعاة مصالح دول المصب. 

تعود جذور أزمة المياه التركية مع سوريا والعراق إلى العام 1920، عندما تم التوقيع على اتفاقيات “ثلاثية وثنائية” بين وتركيا وكل من سوريا (مستعمرة فرنسية) والعراق (مستعمرة بريطانية) لتقسيم المياه وفق المعايير الدولية المتبعة آنذاك. وتضمّنت اتفاقية “لوزان” (1923) التي اعترفت الدّول الغربية بموجبها بالجمهورية التركية الحديثة، وريثة الدولة العثمانية، بنداً خاصاً بنهري دجلة والفرات جاء فيه: “لا يحق لأية دولة من هذه الدول الثلاث إقامة سد أو خزان أو تحويل مجرى نهر من دون أن تنسق مع الدول الأخرى لضمان عدم إلحاق الأذى بمصالحها”. 

ومع استقلال سوريا والعراق، بقيت المياه مشكلة أساسية تعرقل إقامة علاقات ودية دائمة بين الدول الثلاث التي لديها ما يكفيها من المشاكل الأخرى التي منعتها من تطوير العلاقات في ما بينها، مع استمرار الشكوك السورية والعراقية دائماً باحتمالات أن يستخدم الجانب التركي المياه كسلاح ضدها.

وقد بيّنت وثائق السفارة الأميركية في طهران (4 تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر 1979) “أن المخابرات الأميركية CIA اقترحت على مدير عام مؤسسة المياه الوطنية سليمان ديميريل في العام 1955-1956 بناء سدود كبيرة على الفرات، لتكون سلاحاً بيد أنقرة ضد سوريا التي كانت علاقاتها سيئة آنذاك مع تركيا”.

ويفسر ذلك فشل الاتفاقية التي وقع عليها الرئيس تورغوت أوزال في العام 1987 مع الرئيس الراحل حافظ الأسد، بعد أن تأثرت بالتوترات التي شهدتها العلاقات بين البلدين، بسبب اتهام أنقرة لدمشق بدعم حزب العمال الكردستاني، إذا ما تجاهلنا قضية لواء الإسكندرون ذات التأثير النفسيّ.

وقد تعهّد الجانب التركي وفق اتفاقيّة 1987 بترك 500 متر مكعب في الثانية من مياه الفرات لكل من سوريا (42%) والعراق (58%)، على أن تزداد هذه الكمية لتصل بعد 5 سنوات إلى 650 متراً مكعباً، مقابل تخلي دمشق عن هذا الدعم، من دون أن تمنع هذه الاتفاقية أنقرة من بناء سدي بيراجيك (50 كم عن الحدود مع سوريا) وقرقميش (على بعد 3 كم من الحدود السورية) وسدين على نهر دجلة، فيما تخطط مؤسسة المياه الوطنية لبناء ما مجموعه 22 سداً على النهرين المذكورين، لتصل كمية المياه التي سيتم تخزينها في هذه السدود إلى حوالى 140 مليار متر مكعب.

وتخطّط أنقرة لريّ 1.8 مليون هكتار من الأراضي الزراعية بهذه المياه، كما تهدف إلى توليد 27 مليار كيلو واط /ساعة من الكهرباء (23% من استهلاك تركيا) من هذه السدود، إضافةً إلى حوالى 750 سداً بمختلف الأحجام (550 منها سد كبير) بنتها تركيا على عشرات الأنهار الصغيرة والكبيرة، ويزيد طولها داخل الحدود التركية على 20 ألف كم. 

وجاءت أقوال الرئيس إردوغان الأسبوع الماضي، إذ قال “إن تركيا ليست غنية بالمياه، كما يعتقد البعض”، لتثير العديد من التساؤلات حول احتمالات استخدام المياه كسلاح في مساومات أنقرة المحتملة مع سوريا والعراق، والأهمّ مع “قسد” ووحدات حماية الشعب الكردية التي تسيطر على شرق الفرات بدعم من واشنطن، التي تتخوّف أنقرة من أن تسعى إلى إقامة كيان كردي مستقل في المنطقة، كما هو الحال في الشمال العراقي. 

وتضع الأوساط التركية الرسمية العديد من السيناريوهات في ما يتعلق بالسياسات المائية التي تتضمّن دراسات جدية حول مصادر المياه، ومنها الأمطار والمياه الجوفية، إضافةً إلى الأنهار المذكورة التي يزيد عددها على 100 نهر. 

وتقدّر هذه الدراسات الطاقة الإجمالية للمياه السطحية (الأمطار) والجوفية التي يمكن الاستفادة منها بحوالى 115 مليار متر مكعب، يتم استغلال حوالى 60 مليار متر مكعب منها سنوياً. ودفعت هذه الأرقام أنقرة إلى تنفيذ العديد من المشاريع لبناء السدود الجوفية، وهي تقنية جديدة تساهم في تخزين المياه الجوفية، كما هو الحال في الأنهار التي تبني عليها أنقرة سدودها. 

ولم تمنع هذه الحسابات أنقرة من الاستمرار في بناء مئات السدود على عشرات الأنهار التي تنبع في أراضيها وتصب في البحار (إيجة والأبيض المتوسط ومرمرة والأسود)، أو تغادرها إلى دول مجاورة أخرى، ومنها إيران وجورجيا وأرمينيا وبلغاريا واليونان، أو تأتيها من هذه الدول، في الوقت الذي نجحت تركيا في مد الأنبوب (80 كم) الذي ينقل المياه تحت البحر (75 مليون متر مكعب سنوياً) إلى شمال قبرص التركية مع حسابات لبيع هذه المياه للقبارصة اليونانيين، وحتى “إسرائيل”، فقد فشل الرئيس الراحل تورغوت أوزال في مشروعه لمد أنابيب المياه إلى “إسرائيل” مروراً بسوريا ولبنان، وأنبوب آخر يمتد إلى دول الخليج عبر الأردن لبيع مياه نهري سايهان وجايهان لهذه الدول.

وترى العديد من الدراسات الأكاديمية في الغرب في المعطيات التركية سبباً كافياً لتخوّف كل من العراق وسوريا من الانعكاسات المحتملة لسياسات أنقرة مع الدولتين المذكورتين بالعنصر الكردي فيهما، فالجميع يعرف أن تنفيذ أنقرة مشاريعها على نهري الفرات ودجلة والأنهار الصغيرة الأخرى سيضع العراق وسوريا أمام تحديات جدية ستكون لها انعكاسات خطيرة على الزراعة والأمن الغذائي ومياه الشرب وتوليد الطاقة، وخصوصاً مع التقلبات البيئية التي تهدد بسنوات الجفاف، وفق كل الدراسات العلمية عالمياً. 

ومع استمرار أنقرة في سياساتها الحالية في سوريا والعراق، بات واضحاً أنها، عاجلاً أم آجلاً، ستستخدم المياه كورقة مؤثرة في مساوماتها مع دمشق وبغداد والكرد، المستفيد الأول من مياه الفرات ودجلة وباقي الأنهار الصغيرة، باعتبار أن السدود السورية في “قسد”. ويفسر ذلك تواجد أنقرة في عفرين (نهر عفرين) غرب الفرات عموماً، إضافةً إلى المنطقة الممتدة من رأس العين إلى تل أبيض، حيث العديد من الأنهار التركية الصغيرة التي تدخل منها إلى سوريا، من دون أن نتجاهل تواجدها في جرابلس، مدخل الفرات إلى سوريا، ومحاولتها السيطرة على عين العرب (كوباني)، وهي على الضفة الشرقية للنهر، وهو الحال في شمال العراق، إذ نجحت تركيا في إقامة العديد من القواعد العسكرية في الجبال الاستراتيجية المطلة أو القريبة من المجاري المائية، ومنها دجلة والزاب الكبير. 

ويبقى الرهان أو الأمل في احتمالات العودة إلى علاقات الصداقة بين أنقرة وكل من دمشق وبغداد، وحتى إيران، وهي أيضاً طرف في قضية المياه، وخصوصاً مع العراق، فبعد أن نجحت أنقرة بعد العام 2003 في إقامات علاقات ودية مع سوريا والعراق وإيران وباقي دول المنطقة، أعلن الرئيس إردوغان، وقبله الرئيس عبد الله جول، أكثر من مرة، أنه “لم تعد هناك ما يسمى بمشكلة المياه مع الجارتين المذكورتين، ليعود ما بين النهرين من جديد مهداً للحضارات التي عاشت فيها قبل آلاف السنين”، وهو الكلام الذي أصبح في مهب الريح، كما أصبحت مشاعر الأخوة والصداقة بين أنقرة وكل من بغداد ودمشق في ذاكرة النسيان، بعد أن نجحت سياسات “تصفير المشاكل مع الجيران” في “تصفير الجيران”، وستكون المياه قريباً همها الأصعب!

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What I saw in the West Bank

Conflict Looms for Egypt and Ethiopia Over Nile Dam

Source

Conflict Looms for Egypt and Ethiopia Over Nile Dam - TheAltWorld
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cunningham_1-175x230.jpg

Finian Cunningham Former editor and writer for major news media organizations. He has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages

July 17, 2020

Ethiopia appears to be going ahead with its vow to begin filling a crucial hydroelectric dam on the Nile River after protracted negotiations with Egypt broke down earlier this week. There are grave concerns the two nations may go to war as both water-stressed countries consider their share of the world’s longest river a matter of existential imperative.

Cairo is urging Addis Ababa for clarification after European satellite images showed water filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Ethiopia has stated that the higher water levels are a natural consequence of the current heavy rainy season. However, this month was designated by Addis Ababa as a deadline to begin filling the $4.6 billion dam.

Egypt has repeatedly challenged the project saying that it would deprive it of vital freshwater supplies. Egypt relies on the Nile for 90 per cent of its total supply for 100 million population. Last month foreign minister Sameh Shoukry warned the UN security council that Egypt was facing an existential threat over the dam and indicated his country was prepared to go to war to secure its vital interests.

Ethiopia also maintains that the dam – the largest in Africa when it is due to be completed in the next year – is an “existential necessity”. Large swathes of its 110 million population subsist on daily rationed supply of water. The hydroelectric facility will also generate 6,000 megawatts of power which can be used to boost the existing erratic national grid.

Ominously, on both sides the issue is fraught with national pride. Egyptians accuse Ethiopia of a high-handed approach in asserting its declared right to build the dam without due consideration of the impact on Egypt.

On the other hand, the Ethiopians view the project which began in 2011 as a matter of sovereign right to utilize a natural resource for lifting their nation out of poverty. The Blue Nile which originates in Ethiopia is the main tributary to the Nile. Ethiopians would argue that Egypt does not give away control to foreign interests over its natural resources of gas and oil.

Ethiopians also point out that Egypt’s “claims” to Nile water are rooted in colonial-era treaties negotiated with Britain which Ethiopia had no say in.

What makes the present tensions sharper is the domestic political pressures in both countries. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is struggling to maintain legitimacy among his own population over long-running economic problems. For a self-styled strong leader, a conflict over the dam could boost his standing among Egyptians as they rally around the flag.

Likewise, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is beset by internal political conflicts and violent protests against his nearly two years in office. His postponement of parliamentary elections due to the coronavirus has sparked criticism of a would-be autocrat. The recent murder of a popular singer-activist which resulted in mass protests and over 100 killings by security forces has marred Abiy’s image.

In forging ahead with the dam, premier Abiy can deflect from internal turmoil and unite Ethiopians around an issue of national pride. Previously, as a new prime minister, he showed disdain towards the project, saying it would take 10 years to complete. There are indicators that Abiy may have been involved in a sinister geopolitical move along with Egypt to derail the dam’s completion. Therefore, his apparent sudden support for the project suggests a cynical move to shore up his own national standing.

Then there is the geopolitical factor of the Trump administration. Earlier this year, President Donald Trump weighed in to the Nile dispute in a way that was seen as bolstering Egypt’s claims. Much to the ire of Ethiopia, Washington warned Addis Ababa not to proceed with the dam until a legally binding accord was found with Egypt.

Thus if Egypt’s al-Sisi feels he has Trump’s backing, he may be tempted to go to war over the Nile. On paper, Egypt has a much stronger military than Ethiopia. It receives $1.4 billion a year from Washington in military aid. Al-Sisi may see Ethiopia as a softer “war option” than Libya where his forces are also being dragged into in a proxy war with Turkey.

Ethiopia, too, is an ally of Washington, but in the grand scheme of geopolitical interests, Cairo would be the preferred client for the United States. Up to now, the Trump administration has endorsed Egypt’s position over the Nile dispute. That may be enough to embolden al-Sisi to go for a showdown with Ethiopia. For Trump, being on the side of Egypt may be calculated to give his flailing Middle East policies some badly needed enthusiasm among Arab nations. Egypt has the backing of the Arab League, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Egypt has previously threatened to sabotage Ethiopia’s dam. How it would do this presents logistical problems. Egypt is separated from Ethiopia to its south by the vast territory of Sudan. Cairo has a strong air force of U.S.-supplied F-16s while Ethiopia has minimal air defenses, relying instead on a formidable infantry army.

Another foreboding sign is the uptick in visits to Cairo by Eritrean autocratic leader Isaias Afwerki. He has held two meetings with al-Sisi at the presidential palace in the Egyptian capital in as many months, the most recent being on July 6 when the two leaders again discussed “regional security” and Ethiopia’s dam. Eritrea provides a Red Sea corridor into landlocked Ethiopia which would be more advantageous to Cairo than long flights across Sudan.

Nominally, Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace deal in July 2018 to end nearly two decades of Cold War, for which Ethiopia’s Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. However, the Eritrean leader may be tempted to dip back into bad blood if it boosted his coffers from Arab money flowing in return for aiding Egypt.

There will be plenty of platitudinous calls for diplomacy and negotiated settlement from Washington, the African Union and the Arab League. But there is an underlying current for war that may prove unstoppable driven by two populous and thirsty nations whose leaders are badly in need of shoring up their political authority amid internal discontent.

israel (apartheid state) cuts off water supply for 2600 Palestinians in Jordan Valley

Israel cuts off water supply for 2600 Palestinians in Jordan Valley

Ma’an – March 6, 2019

Israeli forces and the Israeli Civil Administration cut off water supply for dozens of Palestinians living in communities in Bardala village in the Jordan Valley in the northern occupied West Bank, on Wednesday

Mutaz Bisharat, an official who monitors settlement activity in Tubas/Jordan Valley, told Ma’an that Israeli forces cut off water supply for 60% of residents of the Bardala village; that is 2600 people.

Israeli forces also cut off water supply for 1800-2000 dunams of Palestinian agricultural lands that must be continuously irrigated.

Bisharat added that Israel claims that water sources supplying residents with water are illegal, stressing that the water comes from water wells in the village and inside Palestinian lands.

He pointed out that as Israeli forces cut off water supply for Palestinians, they construct water wells for Israeli settlers.

Bisharat called upon international and humanitarian institutions to immediately intervene to stop Israeli violations of human rights.

The Jordan Valley forms a third of the occupied West Bank, with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C — under full Israeli military control.

Water allocations are very necessary for the increase of agricultural production, in order to support the economic growth of many Palestinian farmers.

Jordan Valley residents mostly live in enclaves closed off by Israeli military zones, checkpoints, and more than 30 illegal Israeli settlements

israel (apartheid state) says “No” to clean running water for Palestinian villages

Israel says “No” to clean running water for Palestinian villages

Israel says “No” to clean running water for Palestinian villages

While illegal, unauthorized Israeli settlements nearby enjoy full access to water, twelve Palestinian villages lose their water supply as Israeli forces systematically destroy their EU-donated water system.
On February 13, 2019, Israeli forces arrived near the village of a-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills. The forces used excavating equipment to unearth and destroy stretch of pipe, which was laid just months ago and supplied water to over 1,000 Palestinians. Residents say that without the system, “water has become every family’s largest expense.”

by Amira Hass, Ha’aretz

The dream that came true, in the form of a two-inch water line, was too good to be true. For about six months, 12 Palestinian West Bank villages in the South Hebron Hills enjoyed clean running water. That was until February 13, when staff from the Israeli Civil Administration, accompanied by soldiers and Border Police and a couple of bulldozers, arrived.

The troops dug up the pipes, cut and sawed them apart and watched the jets of water that spurted out. About 350 cubic meters of water were wasted. Of a 20 kilometer long (12 mile) network, the Civil Administration confiscated remnants and sections of a total of about 6 kilometers of piping. They loaded them on four garbage trucks emblazoned with the name of the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan on them.

The demolition work lasted six and a half hours. Construction of the water line network had taken about four months. It had been a clear act of civil rebellion in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King against one of the most brutal bans that Israel imposes on Palestinian communities in Area C, the portion of the West Bank under full Israeli control. It bars Palestinians from hooking into existing water infrastructure.

A little background

The residential caves in the Masafer Yatta village region south of Hebron and the ancient cisterns used for collecting rainwater confirm the local residents’ claim that their villages have existed for decades, long before the founding of the State of Israel. In the 1970s, Israel declared some 30,000 dunams (7,500 acres) in the area Firing Range 918.

In 1999, under the auspices of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the army expelled the residents of the villages and demolished their structures and water cisterns. The government claimed that the residents were trespassing on the firing range, even though these were their lands and they have lived in the area long before the West Bank was captured by Israel.

When the matter was brought to the High Court of Justice, the court approved a partial return to the villages but did not allow construction or hookups to utility infrastructure. Mediation attempts failed, because the state was demanding that the residents leave their villages and live in the West Bank town of Yatta and come to graze their flocks and work their land only on a few specific days per year.

But the residents continued to live in their homes, risking military raids and demolition action — including the demolition of public facilities such as schools, medical clinics and even toilets. They give up a lot to maintain their way of life as shepherds, but could not forgo water.

“The rainy season has grown much shorter in recent years, to only about 45 days a year,” explained Nidal Younes, the chairman of the Masafer Yatta council of villages. “In the past, we didn’t immediately fill the cisterns with rainwater, allowing them to be washed and cleaned first. Since the amount of rain has decreased, people stored water right away. It turns out the dirty water harmed the sheep and the people.”

Palestinian children fill plastic gallons with drinking water from a vendor in Khan Younis. (AP)

Because the number of residents has increased, even in years with abundant rain, at a certain stage the cisterns ran dry and the shepherds would bring in water by tractor. They would haul a 4 cubic meter (140 square foot) tank along the area’s narrow, poor roads — which Israel does not permit to have widened and paved. “The water has become every family’s largest expense,” Younes said.

In the village of Halawa, he pointed out Abu Ziyad, a man of about 60. “I always see him on a tractor, bringing in water or setting out to bring back water.”

Sometimes the tractors overturn and drivers are injured. Tires quickly wear out and precious work days go to waste. “We are drowning in debt to pay for the transportation of water,” Abu Ziyad said.

In 2017, the Civil Administration and the Israeli army closed and demolished the roads to the villages, which the council had earlier managed to widen and rebuild. That had been done to make it easier to haul water in particular, but also more generally to give the villages better access.

The right-wing Regavim non-profit group “exposed” the great crime committed in upgrading the roads and pressured the Civil Administration and the army to rip them up. “The residents’ suffering increased,” Younes remarked. “We asked ourselves how to solve the water problem.”

The not very surprising solution was installing pipes to carry the water from the main water line in the village of Al-Tuwani, through privately owned lands of the other villages. “I checked it out, looking to see if there was any ban on laying water lines on private land and couldn’t find one,” Younes said.

Work done by volunteers

The plumbing work was done by volunteers, mostly at night and without heavy machinery, almost with their bare hands. Ali Debabseh, 77, of the village of Khalet al-Daba, recalled the moment when he opened the spigot installed near his home and washed his face with running water. “I wanted to jump for joy. I was as happy as a groom before his wedding.”

Umm Fadi of the village of Halawa also resorted to the word “joy” in describing the six months when she had a faucet near the small shack in which she lives. “The water was clean, not brown from rust or dust. I didn’t need to go as far as the cistern to draw water, didn’t need to measure every drop.”

Now it’s more difficult to again get used to being dependent on water dispensed from tanks.

The piping and connections and water meters were bought with a 100,000 euro ($113,000) European donation. Instead of paying 40 shekels ($11) per cubic meter for water brought in with water tanks, the residents paid only about 6 shekels for the same amount of running water. Suddenly they not only saved money, but also had more precious time.

The water lines also could have saved European taxpayers money. A European project to help the residents remain in their homes had been up and running since 2011, providing annual funding of 120,000 euros to cover the cost of buying and transporting drinking water during the three summer months for the residents (but not their livestock).

The cost was based on a calculation involving consumption of 750 liters per person a month, far below the World Health Organization’s recommended quantity. There are between 1,500 and 2,000 residents. The project made things much easier for such a poor community, which continued to pay out of its own pocket for the water for some 40,000 sheep and for the residents’ drinking water during the remainder of the year. Now that the Civil Administration has demolished the water lines, the European donor countries may be forced to once again pay for the high price of transporting water during the summer months, at seven times the cost.

For its part, the Civil Administration issued a statement noting that the area is a closed military zone. “On February 13,” the statement said, “enforcement action was taken against water infrastructure that was connected to illegal structures in this area and that were built without the required permits.”

Ismail Bahis should have been sorry that the pipes were laid last year. He and his brothers, residents of Yatta, own water tankers and were the main water suppliers to the Masafer Yatta villages. Through a system of coupons purchased with the European donation, they received 800 shekels for every shipment of 20 cubic meters of water. But Bahis said he was happy he had lost out on the work.

“The roads to the villages of Masafer Yatta are rough and dangerous, particularly after the army closed them,” he said. “Every trip of a few kilometers took at least three and a half hours. Once I tipped over with the tanker. Another time the army confiscated my brother’s truck, claiming it was a closed military zone. We got the truck released three weeks later in return for 5,000 shekels. We always had other additional expenses replacing tires and other repairs for the truck.

Nidal Younes recounted that the council signed a contract with another water carrier to meet the demand. But that supplier quit after three weeks. He wouldn’t agree to drive on the poor and dangerous roads.

On February 13, Younes heard the large group of forces sent by the Civil Administration beginning to demolish the water lines near the village of Al-Fakhit. He rushed to the scene and began arguing with the soldiers and Civil Administration staff.

Border Police arrests

Border Police officers arrested him, handcuffed him and put him in a jeep. His colleague, the head of the Al-Tuwani council, Mohammed al-Raba’i, also approached those carrying out the demolition work to protest. “But they arrested me after I said two words. At least Nidal managed to say a lot,” he said with a smile that concealed sadness.

Two teams carried out the demolition work, one proceeding toward the village of Jinbah, to the southeast, the second advanced in the direction of Al-Tuwani, to the northwest. They also demolished the access road leading to the village of Sha’ab al-Butum, so that even if Bahis wanted to transport water again, he would have had to make a large detour to do so.

Younes was shocked to spot a man named Marco among the team carrying out the demolition. “I remembered him from when I was a child, from the 1980s when he was an inspector for the Civil Administration. In 1985, he supervised the demolition of houses in our village, Jinbah — twice, during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr [marking the end of the Ramadan holy month],” he said.

“They knew him very well in all the villages in the area because he attended all the demolitions. The name Marco was a synonym for an evil spirit. Our parents who saw him demolish their homes, have died. He disappeared, and suddenly he has reappeared,” Younes remarked.

Marco is Marco Ben-Shabbat, who has lead the Civil Administration’s supervision unit for the past 10 years. Speaking to a reporter from the Israel Hayom daily who accompanied the forces carrying out the demolition work, Ben-Shabbat said: “The [water line] project was not carried out by the individual village. The Palestinian Authority definitely put a project manager here and invested a lot of money.”

More precisely, it was European governments that did so.

From all of the villages where the Civil Administration destroyed water lines, the Jewish outposts of Mitzpeh Yair and Avigayil can be seen on the hilltops. Although they are unauthorized and illegal even according to lenient Israeli settlement laws, the outposts were connected almost immediately to water and electricity grids and paved roads lead to them.

“I asked why they demolished the water lines,” Nidal Younes recalled. He said one of the Border Police officers answered him, in English, telling him it was done “to replace Arabs with Jews.”


Amira Hass is a Ha’aretz correspondent

Murder Of A Holocaust Survivor

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How a Map of Palestine Drove the American Neo-colonial Elite Mad

By Juan Cole
Source

I mirrored a map of modern Palestinian history that has the virtue of showing graphically what has happened to the Palestinians politically and territorially in the past century.

map-story-of-palestinian-nationhood.jpg

Andrew Sullivan then mirrored the map from my site, which set off a lot of thunder and noise among anti-Palestinian writers like Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, but shed very little light. (PS, the map as a hard copy mapcard is available from Sabeel.)

The map is useful and accurate. It begins by showing the British Mandate of Palestine as of the mid-1920s. The British conquered the Ottoman districts that came to be the Mandate during World War I (the Ottoman sultan threw in with Austria and Germany against Britain, France and Russia, mainly out of fear of Russia).

But because of the rise of the League of Nations and the influence of President Woodrow Wilson’s ideas about self-determination, Britain and France could not decently simply make their new, previously Ottoman territories into mere colonies. The League of Nations awarded them “Mandates.” Britain got Palestine, France got Syria (which it made into Syria and Lebanon), Britain got Iraq.

The League of Nations Covenant spelled out what a Class A Mandate (i.e. territory that had been Ottoman) was:

“Article 22. Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognised subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory [i.e., a Western power] until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory.”

That is, the purpose of the later British Mandate of Palestine, of the French Mandate of Syria, of the British Mandate of Iraq, was to ‘render administrative advice and assistance” to these peoples in preparation for their becoming independent states, an achievement that they were recognized as not far from attaining. The Covenant was written before the actual Mandates were established, but Palestine was a Class A Mandate and so the language of the Covenant was applicable to it. The territory that formed the British Mandate of Iraq was the same territory that became independent Iraq, and the same could have been expected of the British Mandate of Palestine. (Even class B Mandates like Togo have become nation-states, but the poor Palestinians are just stateless prisoners in colonial cantons).

The first map thus shows what the League of Nations imagined would become the state of Palestine. The economist published an odd assertion that the Negev Desert was ’empty’ and should not have been shown in the first map. But it wasn’t and isn’t empty; Palestinian Bedouin live there, and they and the desert were recognized by the League of Nations as belonging to the Mandate of Palestine, a state-in-training. The Mandate of Palestine also had a charge to allow for the establishment of a ‘homeland’ in Palestine for Jews (because of the 1917 Balfour Declaration), but nobody among League of Nations officialdom at that time imagined it would be a whole and competing territorial state. There was no prospect of more than a few tens of thousands of Jews settling in Palestine, as of the mid-1920s. (They are shown in white on the first map, refuting those who mysteriously complained that the maps alternated between showing sovereignty and showing population). As late as the 1939 British White Paper, British officials imagined that the Mandate would emerge as an independent Palestinian state within 10 years.

In 1851, there had been 327,000 Palestinians (yes, the word ‘Filistin’ was current then) and other non-Jews, and only 13,000 Jews. In 1925, after decades of determined Jewish immigration, there were a little over 100,000 Jews, and there were 765,000 mostly Palestinian non-Jews in the British Mandate of Palestine. For historical demography of this area, see Justin McCarthy’s painstaking calculations; it is not true, as sometimes is claimed, that we cannot know anything about population figures in this region. See also his journal article, reprinted at this site. The Palestinian population grew because of rapid population growth, not in-migration, which was minor. The common allegation that Jerusalem had a Jewish majority at some point in the 19th century is meaningless. Jerusalem was a small town in 1851, and many pious or indigent elderly Jews from Eastern Europe and elsewhere retired there because of charities that would support them. In 1851, Jews were only about 4% of the population of the territory that became the British Mandate of Palestine some 70 years later. And, there had been few adherents of Judaism, just a few thousand, from the time most Jews in Palestine adopted Christianity and Islam in the first millennium CE all the way until the 20th century. In the British Mandate of Palestine, the district of Jerusalem was largely Palestinian.

The rise of the Nazis in the 1930s impelled massive Jewish emigration to Palestine, so by 1940 there were over 400,000 Jews there amid over a million Palestinians.

The second map shows the United Nations partition plan of 1947, which awarded Jews (who only then owned about 6% of Palestinian land) a substantial state alongside a much reduced Palestine. Although apologists for the Zionist movement say that the Zionists accepted this partition plan and the Arabs rejected it, that is not entirely true. Zionist leader David Ben Gurion noted in his diary when Israel was established that when the US had been formed, no document set out its territorial extent, implying that the same was true of Israel. We know that Ben Gurion was an Israeli expansionist who fully intended to annex more land to Israel, and by 1956 he attempted to add the Sinai and would have liked southern Lebanon. So the Zionist “acceptance” of the UN partition plan did not mean very much beyond a happiness that their initial starting point was much better than their actual land ownership had given them any right to expect.

The third map shows the status quo after the Israeli-Palestinian civil war of 1947-1948. It is not true that the entire Arab League attacked the Jewish community in Palestine or later Israel on behalf of the Palestinians. As Avi Shlaim has shown, Jordan had made an understanding with the Zionist leadership that it would grab the West Bank, and its troops did not mount a campaign in the territory awarded to Israel by the UN. Egypt grabbed Gaza and then tried to grab the Negev Desert, with a few thousand badly trained and equipped troops, but was defeated by the nascent Israeli army. Few other Arab states sent any significant number of troops. The total number of troops on the Arab side actually on the ground was about equal to those of the Zionist forces, and the Zionists had more esprit de corps and better weaponry.

[The nascent Israeli military deliberately pursued a policy of ethnically cleansing non-combatant Palestinians from Israeli-held territory, expelling about 720,000 of them in 1947-48, then locking them outside, bereft of their homes and farms and penniless.

Map6_RefugeesRoutes.gif

The final map shows the situation today, which springs from the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank in 1967 and then the decision of the Israelis to colonize the West Bank intensively (a process that is illegal in the law of war concerning occupied populations).

There is nothing inaccurate about the maps at all, historically. Goldberg maintained that the Palestinians’ ‘original sin’ was rejecting the 1947 UN partition plan. But since Ben Gurion and other expansionists went on to grab more territory later in history, it is not clear that the Palestinians could have avoided being occupied even if they had given away willingly so much of their country in 1947. The first original sin was the contradictory and feckless pledge by the British to sponsor Jewish immigration into their Mandate in Palestine, which they wickedly and fantastically promised would never inconvenience the Palestinians in any way. It was the same kind of original sin as the French policy of sponsoring a million colons in French Algeria, or the French attempt to create a Christian-dominated Lebanon where the Christians would be privileged by French policy. The second original sin was the refusal of the United States to allow Jews to immigrate in the 1930s and early 1940s, which forced them to go to Palestine to escape the monstrous, mass-murdering Nazis.

The map attracted so much ire and controversy not because it is inaccurate but because it clearly shows what has been done to the Palestinians, which the League of Nations had recognized as not far from achieving statehood in its Covenant. Their statehood and their territory has been taken from them, and they have been left stateless, without citizenship and therefore without basic civil and human rights. The map makes it easy to see this process. The map had to be stigmatized and made taboo. But even if that marginalization of an image could be accomplished, the squalid reality of Palestinian statelessness would remain, and the children of Gaza would still be being malnourished by the deliberate Israeli policy of blockading civilians. The map just points to a powerful reality; banishing the map does not change that reality.

Goldberg, according to Spencer Ackerman, says that he will stop replying to Andrew Sullivan, for which Ackerman is grateful, since, he implies, Goldberg is a propagandistic hack who loves to promote wars on flimsy pretenses. Matthew Yglesias also has some fun at Goldberg’s expense. [Otherwise, like most other major US institutions, our press is corrupt on this issue.]

People like Goldberg never tell us what they expect to happen to the Palestinians in the near and medium future. They don’t seem to understand that the status quo is untenable. They are like militant ostriches, hiding their heads in the sand while lashing out with their hind talons at anyone who stares clear-eyed at the problem, characterizing us as bigots. As if that old calumny has any purchase for anyone who knows something serious about the actual views of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or . . . Avigdor Lieberman, more bigoted persons than whom would be difficult to find…

israeli Racism – Legalized and Running Rampant

Source

Israeli Racism – Legalized and Running Rampant

What might it look like to be a minority in an apartheid state that has spelled out your second-class status, sanctioned discrimination against you, and not-so-secretly wants to get rid of you? Here’s how that looks in Israel.
Israel’s new Nation State Law, just over 1 month old, has already increased the discrimination against Palestinians in Israel to absurd levels: they’re being prohibited from raising chickens, planting potatoes, gathering traditional herbs. Small sewing and knitting factories are being closed down and moved to Jordan. The only logical explanation: it’s part of a plan to make survival in Israel impossible, to initiate a “soft transfer” or “voluntary emigration” of Palestinians, because mass deportation – as in the Nakba – is no longer practical.

By Zuhair Andraus, Nazareth, Raialyoum; translated by Ziyad Shihadah

Israel is increasing its economic, political, and security siege on the 1.6 million Palestinians of 1948 – the Palestinians who make up 21% of Israel’s population. Its discriminatory policies have reached a level in which Palestinians are prevented from raising chickens and planting potatoes, small textile factories have been closed and transported to Jordan, and other products and ways of life have been impacted as well.

This is a racist phenomenon with the deliberate goal of “soft transfer” or “voluntary emigration” of Palestinians, because mass deportation – as in the Nakba – is no longer practical.

Help Wanted – with a catch

But before we get into the details, it must be noted that every job in Israel, whether governmental or non-governmental, has as a condition that the applicant has served in the occupation army, which clearly prevents the Arabs of 1948 from entering the labor force. This explains why Arabs undisputedly have the highest level of unemployment, and why 50% of Palestinian children at home live below the poverty line.

In addition to that, on the facades of many, many shops from the far north to the far south of the Jewish State, Help Wanted signs are posted for salespeople. In Eilat (Umm al-Rashrash), this writer saw a help wanted sign in an underwear shop with a requirement that the candidate has served in the occupation army.

What is the relationship of the army to underwear? Perhaps the answer can be found in the many advertisements by Jewish call girls. They say clearly what others hint at: “We do not welcome Arabs!” Of course there are clear obscene messages in public places, like “Arabjarrab” (Arabs are lepers) and other filthy insults and curses.

Chickens, eggs, and potatoes

In the context of the economic persecution of Palestinians, the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture lately decided to prohibit the 1948 Arabs from raising chickens. As a result, they prevented them from obtaining eggs, asserting that this product should come only from Jews in the moshavim (cooperative villages) . Within days, Arab eggs disappeared from the markets and were replaced by Israeli eggs, which came from moshavim built on the ruins of Palestinians villages destroyed since the Nakba.

Israeli authorities also issued a law forbidding Arabs to plant potatoes, thanks to pressure from Israel’s large potato farmers – after authorities discovered that potato cultivation is inexpensive and that potatoes are a valuable source of income for Palestinians. The eggs and potatoes are examples of the institutional racism in the Jewish state.

Potatoes have always been an important cash crop for Palestinian farmers – but in a moment’s time, their clientele has dried up: now that it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate in Israel, Israeli potato farmers have demanded all of the action, and gotten it.

No more free thyme

It is well known that Palestine is a fertile agricultural land, rich in many types of plants that grow in the wild. Some of these, such as thyme and hibiscus, are harvested and used by Palestinians for food, but not known or eaten by Jews.

The Israeli government has recently instructed the so-called “Nature Protection Authority” to declare that these plants are on a list of “protected” plants, and that those who harvest them are breaking the law.

At the same time, many Jewish merchants who discovered the importance of these plants for Palestinians have applied to the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture for the necessary permits to grow these plants and then sell them in Arab markets. Thus, the Palestinian has become a profitable market for Israeli trade for a product that used to be available for free.

Tobacco is another crop important to economic survival for Palestinian farmers – which makes it an excellent target for those seeking to ruin them. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Tobacco and textiles are out

In this context, the occupation authorities found another outlet to narrow the economic space to the Palestinians, with the Dubek, the only Israeli cigarette producer, stopped purchasing tobacco from Arab farmers. Keep in mind that tobacco is one of the main cash crops for Palestinians in the Galilee (West Bank), within the so-called “Green Line.” Thus, Israel has eliminated the market for one of the most important Arab agricultural products in Palestine. Instead of Arab tobacco, Israel has turned to its ally Turkey, and is importing Turkish tobacco.

To make things even worse in the economic war against the Palestinians – and in cooperation with Jordan – Israel recently closed a number of small sewing and knitting factories in the Galilee, the Triangle (a cluster of Israeli Arab villages near the Green Line), and the Negev areas. These factories, the source of income for a large number of Palestinian families, are now being moved to Jordan with the excuse of cheap labor. It is rumored that this is an attempt to support Jordan’s fragile economy, but clearly  the occupation wants to cut off income sources of the 1948 Arabs.

And on and on

It is worth mentioning that Israel’s economically strangling policies to date have led to a 33% unemployment rate in the Negev and Umm al-Fahm, and widened the employment gap between Palestinians and Israelis: unemployment among Palestinians reached 25%, vs. 6.5% among Israelis.

To illustrate the depth of Israeli racism, it is enough to point to the humiliation the 1948 Arabs face during Israeli airport searches and unnecessary, inciting investigations. In addition, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office does not employ even one Arab; homes are demolished; towns and villages are not allowed to expand and build. Finally, Israeli trains do not pass through any Arab cities or towns inside Palestinian land.

israel’s (apartheid state) Food Theft as a Form of Cultural Genocide

Food Theft as a Form of Cultural Genocide

Palestinian-Cuisine

Cultural Genocide

Back in 2012 I wrote a short book entitled Cultural Genocide (Rutgers University Press). It looked at four case studies of this phenomenon: the American Indians, Russian treatment of Jews in the 19th century, Chinese assimilation of Tibet, and Israel’s ongoing treatment of the Palestinians. It is an aspect of Palestinian plight that I want to revisit here.

The idea behind cultural genocide is relatively simple—it is the systematic erasure of the culture of indigenous people subject to colonization. The endgame here is that the conquered land will no longer be popularly identified with the culture and traditions of those who were once native to it. Instead, their culture will be replaced by that of the colonizer.

The most common way of doing this is to disperse or actually wipe out a good part of the indigenous population, with the resulting trauma causing their culture, at least in its native form, to disappear. However, sometimes the colonizers will appropriate elements of the native culture as their own. This is cultural genocide by theft as well as destruction.

In Cultural Genocide I laid out how the Israelis were attempting to undermine and ultimately destroy Palestinian culture in a seemingly never-ending effort to “Hebraize” the territory now called Israel. Here are some of the techniques employed: (1) the practice of renaming, which began as early as the 1920s:

“With the help of archeologists, geographers and biblical scholars” the Zionists “began to systematically erase Palestine’s Arab history and heritage from what would be Israel’s own official records, maps and histories”; (2) The physical destruction of Palestinian archeological sites, artifacts, ancient mosques and historic houses to the extent that the UNESCO World Heritage office describes the Israeli actions as “crimes against the cultural history of mankind”; (3) The purposeful looting and subsequent destruction of Palestinian libraries, archives and museums; and (4) the imposition of literally thousands of regulations designed to make it impossible for Palestinians in occupied territory to express themselves culturally or politically. For further information, see Cultural Genocide, pp. 77-80.

Mislabeling Palestinian Cuisine

When I wrote this book in 2012, the issue of the appropriation of native foods as the colonizer’s own did not come up. It was, if you will, “under my radar.” It got on my radar about five years ago, whereupon I began complaining (often to no avail) to supermarkets and restaurants about hummus and falafel being advertised as “Israeli food.”

I was again reminded of the issue by a series of events, most recently, a local catered dinner to raise money for Playgrounds for Palestine. The food was all Palestinian. The well-known chef Anan Zahr reminded us all that “this is a crucial time for the Palestinian people, whose identity and culture are aggressively threatened on a daily basis by the Israeli government. It is so important for us to highlight and showcase the Palestinian cuisine to prevent ongoing food appropriation.”

To “highlight and showcase Palestinian cuisine” here in the West is a difficult task, if only because the effort must overcome a sea of ignorance and indifference. Despite the decades of ongoing conflict that has been grist for the mill of mass media, there are still millions of Americans, and others too, who know little about the cultural genocide of the Palestinians. What resides now in the minds of most people (when they consider the topic at all) is Israel presented to them as a “normal country” periodically threatened by Muslim Arabs. And, just as the Italians eat Italian food, and the French eat French food, the average American assumes that the Israelis eat “Israeli food.”

A good example of this was the controversy sparked by celebrity chef Rachel Ray, who appears on a number of on-line and televised cooking shows. Back in December 2017Ray, who is not Jewish, put out a number of tweets describing “an Israeli night meal.” The foods she tweeted about included hummus, tabbouleh (“tabouli”), stuffed grape leaves, chicken fried in za’atar and cucumber salad—all of them traditional Palestinian foods.

As the Times of Israel described it, “the posts spurred a cascade of more than1, 600 replies, most of them critical.” This is an expression of the fact that Palestinians “see Israeli claims to these foods as just one more form of oppression.” Yousef Munayyer, who directs the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, placed the situation in context: “place names, street names, historical markers have been changed.

Zionists and their supporters have a response to these complaints. However, like all their other arguments, they rest on an utter unwillingness to take responsibility for their own collective actions.

Forests have literally been planted above our villages, obfuscating the very remnants of our history and the graves of our ancestors. So please understand, when you label this food ‘Israeli’ you’re participating in a broad process of replacement that goes way beyond what is on a plate and is instead about denying Palestinians [to] even have a place at the global table.” He asserted that Ray’s tweets had contributed to “a culture in which Palestinians, as a people, are often told they do not exist.” In other words, by taking Palestinian food and renaming it Israeli, the Zionists perform an act of cultural genocide.

All of this must have left Rachael Ray’s head spinning. She did not directly respond to the consequences of her faux pas but quickly moved on to tweeting about Greek cuisine. As far as I can learn, her mislabeling of Palestinian cuisine as Israeli was largely due to ignorance. She has no particular connections to Israel beyond the fact that she has a friend who goes there and brings her back recipes. She certainly is no hard-core Zionist. For instance, back in 2008 Ray was accused of giving moral support to a “murderous Palestinian jihad,” by appearing in a commercial for Dunkin Donuts wearing a scarf that “looked too much like a keffiyeh.”

The Zionist Response

Zionists and their supporters have a response to these complaints. However, like all their other arguments, they rest on an utter unwillingness to take responsibility for their own collective actions. What they do in this case is talk around the issue, thus avoiding a complete picture. Thus, their principle response, given here by one Alex Kay, goes like this: “Israeli cuisine is a beautiful celebration of Jews from around the world, including 800,000 Jewish Arabs thrown out from Arab countries. In Israel you have Eastern and Western food mixed perfectly. … Palestinians don’t own chopped salad or za’atar.”

It is quite beside the point whether or not Israeli cuisine is “a beautiful celebration of Jews from around the world” or “in Israel you have Eastern and Western food mixed perfectly.” The context for the complaint of food appropriation has nothing to do with the celebration of “Jewishness” or a melding of cuisines. Nor, quite frankly, has it to do with the allegation that 800,000 Jewish Arabs were “thrown out from Arab countries” soon after Israel was founded. This assertion is an exaggerated element of the broader Zionist mantra.

Jewish Arabs faced much less hostility in most Arab countries than the Zionists say they did, particularly considering that, at the time, the Zionists had begun to ethnically cleanse Palestinians. However, in every case these Arab Jewish communities faced relentless Zionist pressure to emigrate. And, when they did go to Israel they faced discrimination because of their Arab heritage.

The only pertinent allegation in the Zionist retort is “Palestinians don’t own chopped salad or za’atar.” Yet, within the broader context in which Israel’s appropriation of Palestinian food takes place, the truth is that the Palestinians do “own” these foods—not only historically, but also morally. As noted above, that greater context is one of purposeful destruction of the Palestinian people, and that makes all the difference.

As long as the Israelis practice ethnic cleansing and continue down the road to apartheid state status (as they did with their recent nationality law), their claim on any aspect of Palestinian heritage—be it land or food—is a de facto act of cultural genocide. And, if this form of destructive racism is not to become ever more frequent, every aspect of Zionist appropriation must be fought, right down to the last “Israeli” falafel.

 

israel (apartheid state) was founded on and is maintained by theft, we shouldn’t be surprised

Eyewitness Onboard Boat to Gaza Says Israeli Forces Beat Passengers and Stole Thousands of Dollars, Antibiotics During Raid

Dr. Swee Ang is a medical doctor and was a passenger onboard the al-Awda, a ship headed to Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla. The Israeli navy commandeered the vessel on July 29, 2018. 

The last leg of the journey of al-Awda (the boat of return) was scheduled to reach Gaza on 29 July 2018. We were on target to reach Gaza that evening. There are 22 on board including crew with $15,000 of antibiotics and bandages for Gaza. At 12.31 p.m. we received a missed call from a number beginning with +81… Mikkel was steering the boat at that time. The phone rang again with the message that we were trespassing into Israeli waters. Mikkel replied that we were in International waters and had right of innocent passage according to maritime laws. The accusation of trespassing was repeated again and again with Mikkel repeating the message that we were sailing in international waters. This carried on for about half an hour, while al-Awda was 42 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza.

Dr. Swee Ang. (Photo: Blizard Institute
Queen Mary University of London)

Prior to the beginning of this last leg, we had spent two days learning non-violent actions and had prepared ourselves in anticipation of Israeli invasion of our boat. Vulnerable individuals especially those with medical conditions were to sit at the rear of the top deck with their hands on the deck table. The leader of this group was Gerd, a 75-year-old elite Norwegian athlete and she had the help of Lucia, a Spanish nurse in her group.

The people who were to provide non-violent barrier to the Israelis coming on deck and taking over the boat formed three rows – two rows of threes and the third row of two persons blocking the wheel house door to protect the wheel house for as long as possible. There were runners between the wheel house and the rear of the deck. The leader of the boat Zohar and I were at the two ends of the toilets corridor where we looked out at the horizon and inform all of any sightings of armed boats. I laughed at Zohar and said we are the Toilet Brigade, but I think Zohar did not find it very funny. It was probably bad taste under the circumstances. I also would be able to help as a runner and will have accessibility to all parts of the deck in view of being the doctor on board.

Soon we saw at least three large Israeli warships on the horizon with five or more speed boats (Zodiacs) zooming towards us. As the Zodiacs approached I saw that they carried soldiers with machine guns and there was on board the boats large machine guns mounted on a stand pointing at our boat. From my lookout point the first Israeli soldier climbed on board to the cabin level and climbed up the boat ladder to the top deck. His face was masked with a white cloth and following him were many others, all masked. They were all armed with machine guns and small cameras on their chests.

They immediately made to the wheel house overcoming the first row by twisting the arms of the participants, lifting Sarah up and throwing her away. Joergen the chef was large to be manhandled so he was tasered before being lifted up. They attacked the second row by picking on Emelia the Spanish nurse and removed her thus breaking the line. They then approach the door of the wheel house and tasered Charlie the first mate and Mike Treen who were obstructing their entry to the wheel house. Charlie was beaten up as well. Mike did not give way with being tasered in his lower limbs so he was tasered in his neck and face. Later on I saw bleeding on the left side of Mike’s face. He was semi-conscious when I examined him.

They broke into the wheel house by cutting the lock, forced the engine to be switched off and took down the Palestine flag before taking down the Norwegian flag and trampling on it.

They then cleared all people from the front half of the boat around the wheel house and moved them by force and coercion, throwing them to the rear of the deck. All were forced to sit on the floor at the back, except Gerd, Lucy and the vulnerable people who were seated around the table on wooden benches around her. Israeli soldiers then formed a line sealing off people from the back and preventing them from coming to the front of the boat again.

As we entered the back of the deck we were all body searched and ordered to surrender our mobile phones or else they will take it by force. This part of search and confiscation was under the command of a woman soldier. Apart from mobile phones – medicines and wallets were also removed. No one as of today (4 August 2018) got our mobile phones back.

I went to examine Mike and Charlie. Charlie had recovered consciousness and his wrists were tied together with plastic cable ties. Mike was bleeding from the side of his face, still not fully conscious. His hands were very tightly tied together with cable ties and the circulation to his fingers was cut off and his fingers and palm were beginning to swell. At this stage the entire people seated on the floor shouted demanding that the cable ties be cut. It was about half an hour later before the ties were finally cut off from both of them.

Around this time Charlie the first mate received the Norwegian flag. He was visibly upset telling all of us that the Norwegian flag had been trampled on. Charlie reacted more to the trampling of the Norwegian flag than to his own being beaten and tasered.

The soldiers then started asking for the captain of the boat. The boys then started to reply that they were all the captain. Eventually the Israelis figured out that Herman was the captain and demanded to take him to the wheel house. Herman asked for someone to come with him, and I offered to do so. But as we approached the wheel house, I was pushed away and Herman forced into the wheel house on his own. Divina, the well known Swedish singer, had meanwhile broken free from the back and went to the front to look through the window of the wheel house. She started to shout and cry “Stop –stop they are beating Herman, they are hurting him”.  We could not see what Divina saw, but knew that it was something very disturbing. Later on, when Divina and I were sharing a prison cell, she told me they were throwing Herman against the wall of the wheel house and punching his chest. Divina was forcibly removed and her neck was twisted by the soldiers who took her back to the rear of the deck.

I was pushed back to the rear of the boat again. After a while the boat engine started. I was told later by Gerd who was able to hear Herman tell the story to the Norwegian Consul in prison that the Israelis wanted Herman to start the engine, and threatened to kill him if he would not do so. But what they did not understand was that with this boat, once the engine stopped it can only be restarted manually in the engine room in the cabin level below. Arne the engineer refused to restart the engine, so the Israelis brought Herman down and hit him in front of Arne making it clear that they will continue to hit Herman if Arne would not start the engine. Arne is 70 years old, and when he saw Herman’s face went ash color, he gave in and started the engine manually. Gerd broke into tears when she was narrating this part of the story. The Israelis then took charge of the boat and drove it to Ashdod.

Once the boat was on course, the Israeli soldiers brought Herman to the medical desk. I looked at Herman and saw that he was in great pain, silent but conscious, breathing spontaneously but shallow breathing. The Israeli Army doctor was trying to persuade Herman to take some medicine for pain. Herman was refusing the medicine. The Israeli doctor explained to me that what he was offering Herman was not army medicine but his personal medicine. He gave me the medicine from his hand so that I could check it. It was a small brown glass bottle and I figured that it was some kind of liquid morphine preparation probably the equivalent of Oramorph or Fentanyl. I asked Herman to take it and the doctor asked him to take 12 drops after which Herman was carried off and slumped on a mattress at the back of the deck. He was watched over by people around him and fell asleep. From my station I saw he was breathing better.

With Herman settled I concentrated on Larry Commodore, the Native American leader and an environmental activist. He had been voted Chief of his tribe twice. Larry has labile asthma and with the stress all around my fear was that he might get a nasty attack, and needed adrenaline injection. I was taking Larry through deep breathing exercises. However Larry was not heading for an asthmatic attack, but was engaging an Israeli who covered his face with a black cloth in conversation. This man was obviously in charge.

I asked for the Israeli man with black mask his name and he called himself Field Marshall Ro…..Larry misheard him and jumped to conclusion that he called himself Field Marshall Rommel and shouted how can he an Israeli take a Nazi name. Field Marshall objected and introduced himself as Field Marshall ? Ronan. As I spelt out Ronan he quickly corrected me that his name is Ronen, and he Field Marshall Ronen was in charge.

The Israeli soldiers all wore body cameras and were filming us all the time. A box of sandwiches and pears were brought on deck for us. None of us took any of their food as we had decided we do not accept Israeli hypocrisy and charity. Our chef Joergen had already prepared high calorie high protein delicious brownie with nuts and chocolate, wrapped up in tin foil to be consume when captured, as we know it was going to be a long day and night. Joergen called it food for the journey. Unfortunately when I needed it most, the Israelis took away my food and threw it away. They just told me ”It is forbidden” I had nothing to eat for 24 hours, refusing Israeli Army food and had no food of my own.

As we sailed towards Israel we could see the coast of Gaza in total darkness. There were three drilling rigs in the northern sea of Gaza. The brightly burning oil flames contrasted with the total darkness the owners of the fuel were forced to live in. Just off the shore of Gaza are the largest deposit of natural gas ever discovered and the natural gas belonging to the Palestinians were already being siphoned off by Israel.

As we approached Israel, Zohar our boat leader suggested that we should start saying goodbye to each other. We were probably two to three hours from Ashdod. We thanked our boat leader, our captain, the crew, our dear chef, and encouraged each other that we will continue to do all we can to free Gaza and also bring justice to Palestine. Herman our Captain, who managed to sit up now, gave a most moving talk and some of us were in tears.

We knew that in Ashdod there will be the Israeli media and film crews. We will not enter Ashdod as a people who had lost hope as we were taken captive. So we came off the boat chanting “Free Free Palestine” all the way as we came off. Mike Treen the union man had by then recovered from his heavy tasering and led the chanting with his mega-voice and we filled the night sky of Israel with Free Free Palestine as we approached. We did this the whole way down the boat into Ashdod.

We came directly into a closed military zone in Ashdod. It was a sealed off area with many stations. It was specially prepared for the 22 of us. It began with a security x-ray area. I did not realize they retained my money belt as I came out of the x-ray station. The next station was strip search, and it was when I was gathering up my belongings after being stripped when I realized my money belt was no longer with me. I knew I had about a couple hundred Euros and they were trying to steal it. I demanded its return and refused to leave the station until it was produced. I was shouting for the first time. I was glad I did that as some other people were parted from their cash. The journalist from Al Jazeera, Abdu,l had all his credit cards and $1,800 taken from him, as well as his watch, satellite phone, his personal mobile, his ID. He thought his possessions were kept with his passport but when he was released for deportation he learnt bitterly that he only got his passport back. All cash and valuables were never found. They simply vanished.

We were passed from station to station in this closed military zone, stripped searched several times, possessions taken away until in the end all we had was the clothes we were wearing with nothing else except a wrist band with a number on it.  All shoe laces were removed as well. Some of us were given receipts for items taken away, but I had no receipts for anything. We were photographed several times and saw two doctors. At this point I learnt that Larry was pushed down the gangway and injured his foot and sent off to Israeli hospital for check-up. His blood was on the floor.

I was cold and hungry, wearing only one teeshirt and pants by the time they were through with me. My food was taken away; water was taken away, all belongings including reading glasses taken away. My bladder was about to explode but I am not allowed to go to the toilet. In this state I was brought out to two vehicles – Black Maria painted gray. On the ground next to it were a great heap of rucksacks and suit cases. I found mine and was horrified that they had broken into my baggage and took almost everything from it – all clothes clean and dirty, my camera, my second mobile, my books, my Bible, all the medicines I brought for the participants and myself, my toiletries. The suitcase was partially broken. My rucksacks was completely empty too. I got back two empty cases except for two dirty large man size teeshirts which obviously belonged to someone else. They also left my Freedom Flotilla T-shirt. I figured out that they did not steal the Flotilla tee as they thought no Israeli would want to wear that tee in Israel. They had not met Zohar and Yonatan who were proudly wearing theirs. That was a shock as I was not expecting the Israeli Army to be petty thieves as well. So what had become the glorious Israeli Army of the Six Day War which the world so admired?

I was still not allowed to go to the toilet, but was pushed into the Maria van, joined by Lucia the Spanish nurse and after some wait taken to Givon Prison. I could feel myself shivering uncontrollably on the journey.

The first thing our guards did in Givon Prison was to order me to go to the toilet to relieve myself. It was interesting to see that they knew I needed to go desperately but had prevented me for hours to! By the time we were re-x-rayed and searched again it must be about 5 to 6 a.m.. Lucia and I were then put in a cell where Gerd, Divina, Sarah and Emelia were already asleep. There were three double decker bunk beds – all rusty and dusty.

Divina did not get the proper dose of her medicines; Lucia was refused her own medicine and given an Israeli substitute which she refused to take. Divina and Emelia went straight on to hunger strike. The jailers were very hostile using simple things like refusal of toilet paper and constant slamming of the prison iron door, keeping the light of the cell permanently on, and forcing us to drink rusty water from the tap, screaming and shouting at us constantly to vent their anger at us.

The guards addressed me as “China” and treated me with utter contempt. On the morning of 30 July 2018, the British Vice Consul visited me. Some kind person had called them about my whereabouts. That was a blessing as after that I was called “England” and there was a massive improvement in the way England was treated compared to the way China was treated. It crossed my mind that “Palestine” would be trampled over, and probably killed.

At 6.30 a.m. 31 July 2018, we heard Larry yelling from the men’s cell across the corridor that he needed a doctor. He was obviously in great pain and crying. We women responded by asking the wardens to allow me to go across to see Larry as I might be able to help. We shouted “We have a doctor” and used our metal spoons to hit the iron cell gate get their attention. They lied and said their doctor will be over in an hour. We did not believe them and started again. The doctor actually turned up at 4 p.m., about 10 hours later and Larry was sent straight to hospital.

Meanwhile to punish the women for supporting Larry’s demand, they brought hand cuffs for Sarah and took Divina and me to another cell to separate us from the rest. We were told we were not going to be allowed out for our 30 minutes fresh air break and a drink of clean water in the yard. I heard Gerd saying “Big deal”

Suddenly Divina was taken out with me to the courtyard and Divina given four cigarettes at which point she broke down and cried. Divina had worked long hours at the wheel house steering the boat. She had seen what happened to Herman. The prison had refused to give her one of her medicines and given her only half the dose of the other. She was still on hunger strike to protest our kidnapping in international waters. It was heart-breaking to see Divina cry. One of the wardens who called himself Michael started talking to us about how he will have to protect his family against those who want to drive the Israelis out. And how the Palestinians did not want to live in peace…and it was not Israel’s fault. But things suddenly changed with the arrival of an Israeli Judge and we were all treated with some decency even though he only saw a few of us personally. His job was to tell us that a tribunal will be convened the following day and each prisoner had been allocated a time to appear, and we must have our lawyer with us when we appear.

Divina by the end of the day became very giddy and very unwell so I persuaded her to come out of hunger strike, and also she agreed to sign a deportation order. Shortly after that possibly at 6 p.m. since we had no watches and mobile phones, we were told Lucia, Joergen, Herman, Arne, Abdul from Al Jazeera and I would be deported within 24 hours and we would be taken to be imprisoned in the deportation prison in Ramle near Ben-Gurion airport immediately to wait there. It was going to be the same Ramle Prison from which I was deported in 2014. I saw the same five strong old palm trees still standing up proud and tall. They are the only survivors of the Palestinian village destroyed in 1948.

When we arrived at Ramle prison Abdul found to his horror that he his money, his credit cards, his watch, his satellite phone, his own mobile phone, his  ID card were all missing – he was entirely destitute. We had a whip round and raised around a hundred Euros as a contribution towards his taxi fare from the airport to home. How can the Israeli Army be so corrupt and heartless to rob someone of everything?

Conclusion:

We, the six women on board al-Awda had learnt that they tried to completely humiliate and dehumanize us in every way possible. We were also shocked at the behaviour of the Israeli Army especially petty theft and their treatment of international women prisoners. Men jailors regularly entered the women’s cell without giving us decent notice to put our clothes on.

They also tried to remind us of our vulnerability at every stage. We know they would have preferred to kill us but of course the publicity incurred in so doing might be unfavourable to the international image of Israel.

If we were Palestinians it would be much worse with physical assaults and probably loss of lives. The situation is therefore dire for the Palestinians.

As to international waters, it looks as though there is no such thing for the Israeli Navy. They can hijack and abduct boats and persons in international water and get away with it. They acted as though they own the Mediterranean Sea. They can abduct any boat and kidnap any passengers, put them in prison and criminalise them.

We cannot accept this. We have to speak up, stand up against this lawlessness, oppression and brutality. We were completely unarmed. Our only crime according to them is we are friends of the Palestinians and wanted to bring medical aid to them. We wanted to brave the military blockade to do this. This is not a crime. In the week we were sailing to Gaza, they had shot dead seven Palestinians and wounded more than 90 with life bullets in Gaza. They had further shut down fuel and food to Gaza. Two million Palestinians in Gaza live without clean water, with only two to four hours of electricity, in homes destroyed by Israeli bombs, in a prison blockaded by land, air and sea for 12 years. The hospitals of Gaza since the 30 March had treated more than 9,071 wounded persons, 4,348 shot by live fire from a hundred Israeli snipers while they were mounting peaceful demonstrations inside the borders of Gaza on their own land. Most of the gun-shot wounds were to the lower limbs and with depleted treatment facilities the limbs will suffer amputation. In this period more than 164 Palestinians had been shot dead by the same snipers, including medics and journalists, children and women. The chronic military blockade of Gaza has depleted the hospitals of all surgical and medical supplies. This massive attack on an unarmed Freedom Flotilla bringing friends and some medical relief is an attempt to crush all hope for Gaza. As I write I learnt that our sister Flotilla, Freedom, has also been kidnapped by the Israeli Navy while in international waters.

BUT we will not stop, we must continue to be strong to bring hope and justice to the Palestinians and be prepared to pay the price, and to be worthy of the Palestinians. As long as I survive I will exist to resist.  To do less will be a crime.

Between israel’s bullets and bulldozers

Between Israel’s bullets and bulldozers

Adlan Mansri The Electronic Intifada

The shepherding community of Khirbet al-Malih is located in a hilly area of the Jordan Valley in the northeast corner of the occupied West Bank. Pockets of families live in metal-frame tents in small Bedouin encampments. Israel occupied the area in 1967 and, like some 60 percent of the West Bank, it is under full Israeli military control.

Since the 1970s, this area has also been an Israeli live-fire military zone, along with around half of the rest of the Jordan Valley, according to the rights group B’Tselem.

In an otherwise peaceful countryside lies a military outpost. For the residents of Khirbet al-Malih, the firing zone designation means the Israeli military can train whenever they want. The shepherds and their families live with the constant presence of military vehicles criss-crossing the countryside, semi-trailer trucks transporting tanks, low-flying aircraft, gunfire and explosions.

Khirbet Al-Malih is dry and hot in the summer, rainy in the winter and deep green in the spring. Spring is the best season for milk because there is plenty of food for the animals.

A Bedouin resident of Khirbet al-Malih rolls a cigarette made with tobacco grown on his field.

If Israeli forces want to use the land around a Bedouin family compound for military exercises, they do. They pull up to a tent and demand everyone leave for a certain period of time, often for days. Families pack the few things they can, gather their animals and leave. They sleep outside until they are allowed to return, often to trampled crops and turned-up earth where tanks passed through. This photo shows the aftermath of one such military exercise. Since 2014, at least three Palestinians have been killed and five injured by unexploded ordnance left behind during military exercises in the Jordan Valley, according to B’Tselem.

Khadir Brahim lives in Khirbet al-Malih on land owned by a Christian church. In recent days, Brahim said, the military performed exercises. “They made us and others leave our homes,” he said. When Brahim is forced to evacuate, he said: “I take the minimal, the goats, the sheep and just go.” Brahim added that, “If anyone is caught staying in their home, the army would physically throw us out and beat them if necessary.” The army once shot a camel, he said.

Ezra Nawi is an Israeli human rights activist who has been working in the northern Jordan Valley for years. He says Israel’s aim in the Jordan Valley is the same as in the South Hebron Hills and East Jerusalem: pushing Palestinians off their land. “It is the police, the army, the intelligence. It’s the same body with many arms. All of them with the same target, how to squeeze them out,” he said.

Mahyoub al-Meer is a shepherd living with his family on land his grandfather owned. He said he has papers proving his family’s ownership of the land. But under military occupation, papers do little to protect one’s rights. “Every day there is the army, the settlers, the exercises. Every day there are problems,” he said.

The army recently approached al-Meer’s family, some of whom are seen here, and declared his land a closed military zone. There were no military exercises as far as he could see but they still forced him to leave. “I resisted, I asked why? I asked if it was just me, or did the settler two kilometers away also have to evacuate. The army then asked for my papers. I told them that I was born here, why would I need a license? So I had to leave, I took my family away with me for two days.“

Al-Meer and his family are surrounded by three hillsides cradling their cluster of tents and sheep pens. One hillside has a road cutting through it, leading to Amihai, the newest settlement, just two kilometers away, built on his family’s land in 2017. On the adjacent hill, directly above them, is a military outpost with a watchtower and cellphone tower, leaving them with the feeling of always being watched. These hills were once for grazing, but now al-Meer keeps his distance unless Nawi or other volunteers are with him.

Because Israel prevents Palestinians from building in Area C – a zone comprising about 60 percent of the West Bank – al-Meer cannot dig a well. He cannot access the water line that goes up to the military outpost. Instead, he pays for water tanks trucked in from the nearest town. He has been cut off from his pastures, reducing the available food for his sheep and goats. In 2016, his family dwellings and animal shelters, built of mud and earth, were demolished by the military. They also tore down a small kindergarten on his land. The small schoolhouse served children from neighboring camps, giving them a head start before they went to Tubas for regular schooling.

Adlan Mansri is a French-Algerian photojournalist based in the Middle East.

israeli army blows up three Palestinian wells in occupied Hebron

Israeli army blows up three Palestinian wells in occupied Hebron
As the extensive Israeli military invasion into the southern West Bank district of Hebron continues to escalate, the soldiers destroyed, on Thursday morning, water wells, and the entrances of several Palestinian homes. Media sources in Hebron said the soldiers destroyed several Palestinian water wells, detonated the entrances of eight apartments, in Hebron city, violently searched many residences and kidnapped at least one Palestinian. Also in Hebron, the army invaded Farsh al-Hawa area, and the area around the al-Ahli Hospital, before storming a residential building, and violently searched several apartments. During the invasions, the soldiers detonated three Palestinian water wells. The soldiers invaded two workshops in Hebron city, allegedly used for manufacturing weapons, and also stormed and ransacked many homes in the towns of Sa‘ir and Bani Ne‘im, east of Hebron, and placed concrete blocks, closing Hebron’s northern road
.http://imemc.org/article/army-destroys-water-wells-damages-property-in-hebron/

Greenwashing the Nakba: The Real Story Behind israel’s “Blooming Desert”

Whitney Webb | MintNews
Though the official narrative of the state of Israel claims that it has turned the land it occupies from an empty desert into a lush, agricultural wonder, the actual fate of the land following Israel’s establishment in 1948 tells a very different story.

In this Monday, Sept. 7, 2009 file photo, an Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim on the outskirts of Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

Were it not for Israel, the desert would have remained unproductive and fallow – or so the story goes.It has often been said that Israel, since its establishment in 1948, has presided over the “miracle” of making the country’s “desert bloom.” That heavily promoted narrative — which asserts that the Palestinians have long lacked the capacity, knowledge or desire to properly develop agriculture in the region — has often been used as a legitimizing factor in Israel’s establishment. As former Israel Prime Minister Shimon Peres once said, “The country [Palestine] was mostly an empty desert, with only a few islands of Arab settlement; and Israel’s [cultivated] land today was indeed redeemed from swamp and wilderness.”

There is, however, another side to this story, one that shows that the “blooming desert” of Israel is a convenient disguise for the degradation and destruction of Palestine’s natural resources, a means of obfuscating the worst of occupation by wrapping it in the cloak of Zionist mythology. While a central theme of Zionist mythology has long been the need for the Jewish Diaspora community to re-establish itself by returning to agricultural labor, the truth of Israel’s agricultural “success” involves the unsustainable use of occupied resources and the deliberate destruction of the land and water still used by Palestinians today.

Erasing a rich history
Though the official narrative of the state of Israel claims that it has turned the land it occupies from an empty desert into a lush, agricultural wonder, the actual fate of the land following Israel’s establishment in 1948 tells a very different story. Indeed, prior to 1948, the historical record demonstrates that Palestinian farms were very productive and that both Palestinian Arabs and Jewish settlers were successful farmers. For example, a UN report on agriculture in Palestine between 1945 and 1946 recorded that Palestinian-grown crops accounted for nearly 80 percent of Palestine’s total agricultural yield that season, with Palestinian farms producing over 244,000 tons of vegetables, 73,000 tons of fruit, 78,000 tons of olives, and 5 million liters of wine.

“Villagers of Sidna Ali drawing water from communal well. (source: Palestine Remembered)

Two years later, when the majority of Palestinians were forced from their land during the “Nakba” that founded the state of Israel, the farms and orchards that had previously been tended by Palestinians were left abandoned, as their owners fled under the threat of death at the hands of Zionist militias.

As Israeli historian and journalist Meron Benvenisti detailed in his book Sacred Landscape: The Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948:

By April 1948 Jewish farmers had already begun harvesting the crops that had ripened in the abandoned fields and picking the citrus fruit in Arab groves. […] by mid-1949 two-thirds of all land sown with grain in Israel was abandoned Arab land.”

Thus, it was land theft that was largely responsible for Israel’s initial agricultural production, not the labor or agricultural expertise of Zionist settlers.

In addition, the claim that Israel turned an undeveloped desert into an agricultural wonder seems to be – in part – projection on the part of the Israeli state. Indeed, as Benvenisti noted, following the removal of Palestinians, the vast majority of centuries-old fruit orchards that had long been maintained by the native inhabitants of the land were untended, neglected and, in some cases, bulldozed to make room for ever-expanding settlements.

According to Benvenisti’s research, that neglect led to a situation in which “entire tracts of productive citrus trees, especially in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa area, were earmarked for the construction of housing developments,” as was the case for Palestine olive groves and pomegranate orchards that the land’s new occupants considered “an annoyance.” Part of the reason for the destruction of the land was that it would weaken Palestinian claims to return to the land, as keeping agricultural infrastructure intact “might have made possible the absorption of the returning refugees.”

Current Israeli government policy, particularly its support for the construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, is the continuation of this effort to erase Palestine’s history by targeting its agricultural heritage as well as its natural wonders. Indeed, Israeli newspaper Haaretz noted back in 2011 that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s steady push for Israeli expansion into Palestinian territory had been coupled with “his insistence on seeing nature and landscape as no more than an obstacle to the realization of his settlement vision.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres, right, and French President Francois Hollande, plant a Cedar tree in Jerusalem. The National Lawyers Guild called for the investigation of the Jewish National Fund, an organization famous for planting tress on land forcibly seized from Palestinians. (AP/Abir Sultan)

Covering a crime with water-sucking pines
Another project central to the “desert bloom” mythology is Israel’s “afforestation” of the desert, which has helped “turn the desert green” through the planting of non-native pine trees. These forests, largely planted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), have been touted as a “miracle.” Yet, the pine stands, much like Israel’s treatment of Palestine’s agricultural legacy, have been motivated by a need to cover up the events that led to the creation of the Israeli state.

Indeed, more than two-thirds of all JNF forests and sites lie on top of the ruins of Palestinian villages demolished during and after the founding of Israel, and the group’s continuing afforestation efforts are aimed at acquiring land in the occupied West Bank to prevent “trespassing” and “conceal” Palestinian villages in order to prevent the return of Palestinian refugees.

Moreover, the effort to maintain a forest of non-native trees – regardless of whether its chief aim is to cover up the true history of Palestine or “green” a desert — has come at a great cost to the natural environment. As journalist Max Blumenthal has noted:
Most of the saplings the JNF plants at a site near Jerusalem simply do not survive, and require frequent replanting. Elsewhere, needles from the pine trees have killed native plant species and wreaked havoc on the ecosystem.”
They also become fodder for forest fires that have caused major damage and mass evacuations throughout Israel over the years.

Another ecological consequence of JNF forests is their likely effect on Israel’s horrendous drought, considered to be the worst the region has faced in over 900 years. As studies have shown in other countries where non-native pine plantations have been introduced in vast numbers, pines consume a significant amount of water – leading to droughts and even the disappearance of entire rivers – as well as fundamentally alter and degrade the soil. While these forests have been presented as an ecological miracle, they are instead destroying the environment and degrading the land’s resources, suggesting that the main driver behind the long-standing project is aimed at covering up the ruins of Palestine.

Continuing the attack on Palestinian agriculture
Today, the stark difference in agricultural development in the land tended by Israelis and Palestinians derives from policies that often receive little coverage in the media and are largely absent from the “desert bloom” narrative. Indeed, much of the coverage the issue has received paints Palestinian agricultural successes as either the work of foreigners offering aid or resulting from the “theft” of Israeli-settlement agricultural infrastructure.

Such reports fail to acknowledge the realities of the issue, such as the illegal blockade of Gaza that has crippled its economy and agricultural sector, as well as Israel’s destruction of agricultural infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank. Gazan agricultural infrastructure was ravaged by Israel in times of war and, in the West Bank, Israeli soldiers regularly demolish rain cisterns, pipelines and irrigation systems installed by Palestinians, citing as a reason that such structures lacked the “proper authorization” from Israel. Farmers themselves, mainly in Gaza, are often targeted directly by Israeli soldiers if they come too close to the border fence.

A Palestinian elderly woman collects olives from broken olive tree branches in the village of Qusra, northern West Bank, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Palestinian farmers say Jewish settlers from the nearby settlement of Eli cut more than 70 olive trees overnight. Olives are the backbone of Palestinian agriculture. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

The Israeli government has also targeted Palestinian agriculture through chemical warfare. The use of white phosphorus as a weapon against Gaza, for example, has had major consequences for the area’s farmers. In addition to the chemical weapon’s often deadly effects on the human body, it has destructive effects on the environment and plants, as its incendiary nature often leads to the spontaneous ignition and burning of trees, forests and farmland. It also lingers in the environment for several years.

Beyond the use of chemical weapons, Israel has also directly targeted Gazan farmland with herbicide. In 2015, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) admitted to using herbicides and germination inhibitors to kill off vegetation along the Palestinian side of the border, damaging over 420 acres of land. A year later, tactic was repeated, this time destroying around 400 acres of farmland. The IDF has stated that it sprays the chemicals over the vaguely defined “no-go zone” it has established along the border “in order to enable optimal and continuous security operations.” However, the area accounts for a third of Gaza’s arable land and 17 percent of the entire territory.

Furthermore, the herbicides, like white phosphorus, have consequences for the environment long after they are sprayed. As Anwar Abu Assi, manager of the chemical laboratory at Gaza’s Ministry of Agriculture, told Al Jazeera in 2016:
Herbicides are sprayed in high concentrations. Thus, they remain embedded in the soil, and then find their way to the water basin. This constitutes a real hazard for the population.”
The targeting of Palestinian agriculture in the present and its treatment by the Israeli and American press suggest another and nefarious way in which Israel’s “desert bloom” mythology has manifested. In order for Israel’s agricultural “superiority” to remain unchallenged, Palestinian agriculture must also be suppressed. Were Palestinian agriculture able to develop unimpeded and flourish, it would call into question the idea that the land was barren before the Zionists, threatening the latter’s legitimacy.

The cover-story for all conquerors and colonizers 
The myth of Israel “making the desert bloom” has its basis in neo-colonial narratives that have long been used in other settler states such as Canada, New Zealand, the United States and Australia. In the cases of the latter countries, the native inhabitants and their culture have also inaccurately been depicted as “primitive” and incompetent, a narrative that suggests that the land would have remained “wild” and undeveloped were it not for the “fortunate” appearance of European settlers. Such narratives cast the settlers as both superior and normal while the natives become inferior and abnormal, thus obfuscating the settler’s status as foreigner and conqueror.

Zionist mythology reinforces similar themes. For example, as in the United States Native Americans were considered as uncivilized and wild as the natural environment, Zionist mythology reinforces the idea that all Arabs are “sons of the desert” while the desert similarly represents a barbaric obstacle to “progress” and development.

Another historical analogue is the 19th century concept of “manifest destiny” — the idea that the expansion of the United States had been preordained by God himself, which led the U.S. to break many of its numerous treaties with indigenous tribes and even go to war with Mexico in order to acquire the land it coveted. The Israeli government similarly sees its expansion and control of all of Palestine as a matter of fulfilling prophecy and “redeeming” the Holy Land. This effort of redemption continues to feed Israel’s expansion. As Netanyahu has said, Israel is “obligated to develop all parts of the country – the Galilee and the Negev [the West Bank].”

Living the myth and the lie
Yet, no matter how much evidence exists to the contrary, Israel will never tell the real story behind the “miracle” of making “the desert bloom.” It will never tell the real story precisely because it can’t – to do so would mean demolishing the neo-colonial narrative at the center of the settler state, a narrative that is the pillar of its legitimacy.

Indeed, if Israel has not actually improved the land by making “the desert bloom” but instead degraded the land, the legitimacy of the state of Israel itself becomes questionable, as it suggests that its native inhabitants – the Palestinians – were better caretakers of the land than the current occupiers. For this reason, Israel must continue to propagate the myth regardless of the facts, and continue to deny Palestine’s rich cultural history and agricultural legacy.

With Israel now facing the consequences of its mistreatment of the land and its resources, the historical revisionism once used to sell the disparity between Israeli and Palestinian agricultural prowess has become ineffective. For that reason, Israel must now use other tactics — chemical warfare through toxic agrochemicals, the physical destruction of Palestinian agricultural infrastructure, and illegal blockades – in order to keep the artificial narrative alive, creating the illusion of primitivism and scarcity where none exists.


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Gaza Summer

April 28, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

 By Enzo Apicella

Apartheid is the REAL anti-Semitism

Palestinians file complaint to UN over Israel violation of anti-racism convention

MEMO | April 23, 2018

Palestinians have filed a complaint to the UN against Israel for numerous violations including breaches of its obligations under international anti-racism treaty.

The move, which is likely to trigger a lengthy and high-profile investigation by world bodies monitoring racism and discrimination, was handed to the UN by the Palestinian ambassador to the international organisation, Ibrahim Khraishi, to the body that monitors the implementation of the UN convention against racism.

In the 350 page document seen by the Guardian, which accuses Israel of establishing an apartheid regime, Palestinians say that Israel is implementing policies that have “the common aim of displacing and replacing the Palestinian people for the purpose of maintaining a colonial occupation”.

Palestinians list a number of Israeli violations in the occupied territories and accuse Israel of seeking to maintain “a Jewish demographic majority in the entirety of historic Palestine”.

“Not only is the purpose of the settlement regime discriminatory in itself, it is further maintained by a system of discriminatory measures, severely depriving Palestinians of their fundamental rights,” the report says.

The complaint sent to the UN is over violations of the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Israel has ratified the convention and Palestinians, who were granted UN observer status in 2014, filed the complaint which is believed to be the first interstate complaint filed under the treaty.

The convention is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a body of 18 independent experts that is now tasked with assessing the complaint. Israel will now be required to submit written explanations within three months, including any remedies it has taken. The committee could then move to investigate the claims.

According to Ammar Hijazi, from the Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs, the complaint “does not reach the level of a court order.” Hijazi added that the finding that Israel had breached the treaty would oblige other signatories to the convention, which include the US, to “ensure that such practices are not continued”, reported the Guardian.

In their list of complaints Palestinians say that they are severely limited in their freedom of movement compared to Israeli settlers and are subject to “confiscation and seizure” of their land, including home demolitions.

In addition to the violations relating to the right to equal treatment under the law, Palestinians claim that Israel is in breach of article 3 of the convention, which prohibits racial segregation and apartheid. “It is clear that Israel’s acts are part of a widespread and oppressive regime that is institutionalised and systematic; that accords separate and unequal treatment to Palestinians,” the summary says, calling for the dismantling of all existing Israeli settlements.

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