Sunday, October 31, 2010

Remembering The 54th Anniversary Of
The israeli Massacre In Kafr Qasim

By Ghassan Bannoura - Palestine News Network

On the evening of October 29, 1956 Israeli troops shot and killed 49 unarmed Palestinian civilians in the village of Kafr Qasem, 20 km east of Tel Aviv near the green line.

The Israeli Massacre In Kafr Qasim

Now the village has a population of 18,100 Palestinians, some of whom marched today alongside neighboring Arab villages to commemorate those killed 1956. People marched from the village center to the memorial site and placed candles for those killed; village leaders made speeches in commemoration.


From 1949 till late 1966 the Israeli government decided to consider all its Palestinians citizens a “hostile population “. All major Arab population centers were governed by military administrations and divided into four districts.

Seven Arab villages, including Kafr Qasim, all along the green line, were considered as high infiltration threat. The villages were patrolled regularly by border police (Magav) under the command of Israeli army brigade commander Colonel Issachar Shadmi. Those villages, containing some 40, 000 villagers, were called the Central District.

October 29, 1956

On the day of the massacre, the Israeli army decided to place all seven villages along the green line under a curfew called the War Time Curfew, from 5 in the evening until 6 the following morning. Israeli soldiers were instructed to shoot and kill any villager violating the curfew.

Even though the border police troops were given the order by their commander at 3:30 in the afternoon, they only informed the mayor of Kafr Qasim about an hour later, leaving a window of 30 minutes for the 400 villagers working in the fields or outside the village to come back home.

According to Israeli investigation committee records, from 5:00 pm until 6:30 on October 29, 1956, border police shot and killed 49 villagers from Kafr Qasim as they tried to return home. Among those killed were 23 children and one pregnant woman.

The killed and injured were left unattended through the night. After the curfew ended, villagers took the injured to hospitals and laid the dead to rest in a mass grave.

In his testimony during the investigation, the survivor Jamal Farij said that soldiers shot villagers without any warning. He was driving back to his village along with 28 passengers in a truck.

'We talked to them. We asked if they wanted our identity cards. They didn't. Suddenly one of them said, 'Cut them down' - and they opened fire on us like a flood.'

Legal Action

Kafr Qasim Massacre Memorial

Eight Israeli soldiers were charged by the Israeli court and found guilty of murder. The two commanding officers of the unit, Malinki and Dahan, received 17 and 15 years’ imprisonment, respectively. These sentences were later reduced.

Colonel Issachar Shadmi was tried and found guilty only of extending the curfew without authority. He was released after paying a fine of one Israeli cent. On November 1959, after two years, all eight convicted soldiers were released on orders by the Israel Committee for the Release of Prisoners .

Malinki retained his military post and got a promotion to be in charge of security for a top secret Israeli Nuclear Research Center located in the Negev. Dahan was appointed as the head of the "Arab Affairs" department by the city of Ramla, another Palestinian village Israel taken over during 1948.

During Israel's creation in 1948, and years later, Israeli soldiers shot and killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians. No legal action has been taken against any Israeli leader, commander, or soldier involved in what would later become known as the Palestinian Nakba.

Could Have Danced All Siege


DEIR AL-BALAH, Oct 31, 2010 (IPS) - "I'd planned to have my wedding party on a Thursday night, when more people could come, and stay later. But because the Dabke dancers weren't free then, I held it on a Tuesday," says Mohammed Ghronaim, 27, from Deir al-Balah, central Gaza.

"Canaan Dabke is a talented group," he says. "But everyone loves them all the more because they are children and dance in an amazing way. Most of the people who came to my wedding probably came just for the Dabke."

Dabke, the traditional Middle Eastern line dance of agile steps, stomps and jumps, is still today an important element of Palestinian culture, and is virtually imperative to wedding parties. While professional groups abound in Gaza and Dabke is good business during wedding season, one group has made itself known for its unique style and energy.

Founder and trainer of Canaan Dabke, Yasser el-Izzerai, 31, lives in Deir al- Balah and started the group on a whim and out of his own pocket.

"There was a small party at the school nearby and some children around 7 years old danced Dabke. They weren't terrific, but I saw their potential and decided to train them," says Izzerai. "We trained at my home because there were no clubs or other places for us to use."

After a year of practice, he says, they danced at a large wedding party in Deir al-Balah. "The crowd loved them, and that was the real beginning of their passion for Dabke."

A group effort, Dabke dancers wear uniforms varying from a basic black pants white shirt combination to ornately hand-embroidered robes.

"Because the kids all come from simple families, they couldn't afford uniforms, not even the black pants," says Izzerai. "But so they would feel more like a group, the boys borrowed from their friends, even if only for the day of the party."

Years later, Canaan Dabke has a name renowned throughout Gaza, and uniforms to match.

"A guest at a wedding party they had danced at donated clothes to the boys," their trainer recalls.

"Black boots up to the knees, black pants flared above, loose white shirts with vests over them," he explains, "and of course the Palestinian Kuffiyeh," he says of the traditionally black and white checked scarf that has come to symbolise Palestine.

Continually booked, the Canaan group appears at wedding parties all over the Strip.

"We add flair to the weddings. Not only by our dancing, but we brings lights, decorations, and even flowers to use during the youths' performance. We want our audience to relax, forget their problems. Everyone in Gaza has lost family members to Israeli attacks or prisons. Everyone suffers under the siege."

Including the group itself.

"When the Israelis were here, it was hard to get to the parties, because Gaza was divided into three parts: southern, central, and northern, with Israeli military checkpoints cutting off the roads," recalls Izzerai.

"Once, we had a wedding to dance at in Gaza, but the roads were closed from Deir al-Balah," he says. "So I hired a donkey and cart and we went along the beach to Gaza. We made it in time to dance at the wedding."

Years later, under the Israeli-led siege on Gaza, Canaan again resorted to donkey and cart travel.

"It was during the hardest time of the fuel crisis. People still get married, even under siege. Because of the lack of fuel, there were few taxis, so we had to travel again by cart to our engagement," says Izzerai.

By now, the group's fame has spread from Gaza to other countries.

"We've received invitations to dance in Norway and Italy, but we've never gone, because we can't get out. The borders are closed, even to dancers."

Israeli authorities maintain that the siege on Gaza, imposed since early 2006 and severely tightened since mid-2007, is for security reasons.

But the siege continues to prevent the ill from accessing medical care and treatment, students from reaching universities, families from re-uniting, workers from going to former jobs outside of Gaza, and even cultural groups from leaving Gaza.

Dabke groups like El-Funoun have at times been able to leave the Israeli- occupied West Bank to dance in other countries. The demand for Palestinian Dabke is real, and the opportunities for Gaza's Canaan Group many, if they were able to breach the Strip's sealed borders.

"We want to introduce people to Dabke, show them our beautiful culture. That's our biggest dream: to dance around the world," says Izzerai.

Over the decades of Israeli occupation, many feel Dabke is a form of resistance under occupation, keeping Palestinian culture and tradition alive in the worst of circumstances.

Yet for the Canaan Group it is much simpler.

"There's nothing political about our group," says Yasser el-Izzerai. "We just want to express the beauty of Palestinian culture to whomever we can." (END)

Picking olives under occupation

International Solidarity Movement Palestine | October 28, 2010

Families in the village of Qusin with properties close to the illegal settlements Shave Shomeron and Shave Shomron, make an attempt to harvest their olives but soldiers forced them to leave.

One of these families has been unable to access their land for the last nine years due to settler attacks and pressure from Israeli soldiers. Another family tried to pick olives about ten days ago but soldiers arrived and stopped them.

According to the Israeli High Court of Justice decision, Palestinian farmers have the right to access their land and soldiers must protect them. Immediately upon the families’ arrival at their land, however, soldiers confronted them and argued that for the protection of them from settler violence, it was necessary for the farmers to leave.

  Saturday, October 30, 2010

Suffering of Palestinian Children
Among Highest in the World

By Mays Al-Azza - IMEMC & Agencies

The Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported, on Wednesday, that Dr. Hanna Issa, an expert in international law, confirmed that among all the children of the world, Palestinian children are suffering the most.

Their plight began in 1948, and has been ongoing to this day due to Israeli practices against them. Thousands of children were displaced and became homeless without committing any sin or fault, Issa said.

He added that Israeli occupation has also harmed all Palestinians over the course of several decades and up to the present time; and has violated their rights and has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of women, men, and children.

Dr. Issa pointed out that Palestinian children were the victims of the Israeli army during the al-Aqsa Intifada, when more than 1,000 children under the age of 18 were killed and more than ten thousand were wounded and thousands more were left to suffer psychological trauma as a result of the impact of horrific scenes witnessed every day.

More than 3,000 children have been kidnapped by the Israeli army; many of them are still detained in Israeli prisons and detention centers where they face abuse and bad living conditions that deprive them of basic human rights.

Israeli violations against Palestinian children affect the rights of children to receive an education and the right to receive proper mental and physical health services.

These continuous violations indicate that no country that is a signatory of the human rights convention and treaties, has taken any action to prevent the abuser country from violating these basic human rights.

Dr. Issa demanded that the international community exert pressure on the Israeli government to abide by the international law to protect the internationally guaranteed rights of Palestinian children.

israeli police shoot legislator
as racists march in Arab town

Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 28 October 2010

Israeli police injured two Arab legislators on Wednesday in violent clashes provoked by Jewish right-wing extremists staging a march through the northern Arab town of Umm al-Fahm.

Haneen Zoabi, a parliament member who has become a national hate figure in Israel and received hundreds of death threats since her participation in an aid flotilla to Gaza in the summer, was among those hurt.

Zoabi reported being hit in the back and neck by rubber bullets as she fled the area when police opened fire. In an interview, she said she believed she had been specifically targeted by police snipers after they identified her.

Police denied her claims, saying they had used only tear gas and stun grenades.

Some 1,500 police were reported to have faced off with hundreds of Palestinian citizens of Israel and Israeli Jewish demonstrators in the town.

Shimon Koren, the northern police commander, admitted special paramilitary forces had been used against the counter-demonstration by Palestinian citizens of Israel, as well as an undercover unit more usually deployed at Palestinian protests in the occupied West Bank.

An officer disguised as an Arab demonstrator, from the so-called mistaravim unit, was among the injured, apparently after police fired a stun grenade at him by mistake (mistaravim is a Hebrew-lanugage word meaning "disguised as an Arab").

Zoabi harshly criticized the police violence. "The police proved that they are a far more dangerous threat to me and other Arab citizens than the fascist group that came to Umm al-Fahm," she said.

The march was organized by far-right settlers allied to Kach, a movement that demands the expulsion of Palestinians from both Israel and the occupied territories. The movement was formally outlawed in 1994, but has continued to flourish openly among some settler groups.

The organizers said they were demanding the banning of the Islamic Movement, which has its headquarters in Umm al-Fahm.

The Islamic Movement's leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, has angered Israeli officials by heading a campaign in Jerusalem's Old City to highlight what he says is an attempted Israeli takeover of the Haram al-Sharif compound that includes the al-Aqsa mosque.

He was also on the Mavi Marmara aid ship to Gaza in May, and claimed at the time that Israeli commandos had tried to assassinate him. Nine passengers were killed, some of them by close-range shots to their heads.

The sheikh is currently serving a three-month jail sentence over clashes with the Israeli security forces close to the al-Aqsa mosque.

Michael Ben Ari, a former Kach member and now an MP with the right-wing National Union party, who attended the march, said Israel must not be a "stupid democracy and let people who want to destroy us have a voice."

Baruch Marzel, one of the march organizers, told Israel Radio: "If the Kach Party was outlawed, then the Islamic Movement deserves to be outlawed 1,000 times over."

On hearing of Zoabi's injuries, he added: "It was worth going to Umm al-Fahm. She is our enemy."

Afu Aghbaria, a Palestinian citizen of Israel MP with the joint Jewish-Arab Communist party, was also hurt. He said he had been hit in the leg.

Leaders among Palestinian citizens in Israel said the clash had been triggered by undercover police who began throwing stones from among the demonstrators -- a tactic that the unit has been caught on film using at protests in the West Bank.

Mohammed Zeidan, head of the Higher Follow-Up Committee, the main political body for Israel's Palestinian citizens, who comprise a fifth of the total population, condemned the police actions.

"Racism is no longer found only in documents or on the margins, like with Marzel, but has become a phenomenon among decision-makers and carried out on the ground. What happened today in Umm al-Fahm is a menacing escalation."

The committee demanded a state investigation into what it called "exaggerated violence" by the police.

Police said nine Arab demonstrators had been arrested for stone-throwing.

Four police officers were reported to be lightly injured. The far-right marchers were escorted away by police, unharmed.

Zoabi, a first-term MP, shot to notoriety this summer after she was among the first passengers to be released following Israel's violent takeover of the Mavi Marmara.

Zoabi contradicted the Israeli account that the nine passengers had been killed by commandos defending themselves, accusing the navy of opening fire on the ship before any commandos had boarded. She also claimed several passengers had been allowed to bleed to death.

She was provided with a bodyguard for several weeks after receiving a spate of deaths threats and general vilification in the parliament.

The Israeli police have been criticized in the past for lying about the strong-arm methods used to quell protests by the country's Palestinian citizens.

A state commission of inquiry found in 2003 that the police had used live ammunition and rubber bullets, in violation of its own regulations, to suppress solidarity demonstrations inside Israel at the start of the second Palestinian intifada.

Thirteen Palestinian citizens were killed and hundreds injured in a few days of clashes in 2000. Police had falsely claimed that the deaths had been caused by "friendly fire" from among the demonstrators.

A recently parliamentary report revealed that there were only 382 Muslims in Israel's 21,000-strong national police force -- or less than two per cent.

The establishment of the undercover mistaravim unit against the country's Palestinian population caused outrage among civil rights groups when it was first revealed last year.

The far-right march in Umm al-Fahm was timed to coincide with the twentieth anniversary this week of the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who founded Kach. At a commemoration service in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel told hundreds who attended that the government was allowing the Palestinians to "establish an Ishmael state in Israel."

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is

A version of this article originally appeared in
The National, published in Abu Dhabi.

  Friday, October 29, 2010

A refugee, single mother, worker, struggler

Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 28 October 2010

Seventy-year-old Amna Hammad, or Umm Jihad as she is more commonly known, sat on a mattress in her cement room as the sun began to set over al-Maghazi camp in the central Gaza Strip. She started to relate her story of raising three children -- now grown men -- despite decades of separation from her husband.

"In 1967, when Israel occupied the Gaza Strip, my husband left Gaza along with thousands of others who fled the Israeli invasion. He left me with three sons, Jihad, then aged four, Nihad, then two and Adnan, a six-month-old baby. So I had to take responsibility for all of them, being a mother and father at the same," Umm Jihad explained.

To take care of her children, Umm Jihad had to start working, but she faced restrictive traditions and customs. Her brother objected to her working, but to get by for the sake of her children, she defied his wishes and the norms of a very conservative society.

"The situation at that time was so difficult not only for me -- a single mother of three -- but also for the entire community around me. In 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians like myself were displaced by the Israeli troops from our original towns and villages like al-Maghar, from where I am from."

Al-Maghar, whose recorded history dates back to at least eighth century, was a village of 1,700 persons near the city of Ramle in what is now inside Israel. It was attacked and its residents expelled by the Givati Brigade of the Haganah Zionist militia on 15 May 1948, and within weeks ordered destroyed by the Jewish National Fund, as Walid Khalidi's essential reference book All That Remains records.

From 1948 when she first became a refugee until the Israeli occupation of Gaza in 1967, "We had very harsh conditions, depending entirely on UN-provided food aid. So I had to defy the customs that would bring nothing to my three sons and my mother-in-law [whom I also cared for]," Hammad recalled with pride.

Hammad began her working life right after her husband left for Egypt. "At that time there wasn't much work, all very simple jobs. Sometimes I used to work harvesting citrus. I kept moving from place to place for about three years. In 1970, I began working inside Israel, mainly in factories for citrus juice or food canning."

Umm Jihad recalls how tough it was when she used to work inside the "green line" or what is now Israel: "I would get up at 3am to start my day. I used to prepare the food and wash the clothes before leaving for work. I had no chance to hug my children like any other mother, to feel the warmth of family life."

"During the early years of my work inside the green line I don't remember that I prepared my sons for school, as as many other women normally did," Umm Jihad recalled as her grown sons sat at her side. "That was enough for me to feel the bitterness of such a life, while their father was away from them, while the community was too poor to help and while the society's traditions restricted the life of a woman in my situation."

Jihad Abu Saqer
As he prepared to hop on his motorcycle and part company, Jihad Abu Saqer, Umm Jihad's eldest son, said with a broad smile on his face: "My mother is a symbol for patience, tolerance and hard work. I give her due respect and appreciation for helping all of us, especially me, until we became well-raised adults."

In 1980, Jihad headed for Egypt to study English with the money his mother had saved through her work in Israeli factories. Now Jihad is a well-known person in the al-Maghazi community who teaches English to secondary school students.

"I have learned how to make my way in life from my tolerant and hardworking mother," Jihad said. "May God bless her and make her the happiest mother in town."

Umm Jihad's son Nihad, who lives in the same house as his mother, remembers the hardships his mother endured, working in the absence of their father.

"During my high school education, I recall that I used to be very embarrassed while speaking to my classmates. Once I argued with my colleagues by saying that no one is suffering like myself," said Nihad while putting his hand on his mother's shoulder.

Nihad said that his mother would always boast of his and his brothers' high marks at school and show off their awards to their neighbors. But in his eyes this only made things more difficult.

"In the final high-school exam, I didn't answer any questions, and instead I filled in the answer sheets with the lyrics of songs, just to make myself fail and force my mother to stop working so I would work instead of her," Nihad recalled. "You cannot imagine -- our society is that hard and can hardly accept you being sponsored by a woman, even if she is your mother."

Adnan, Umm Jihad's youngest, said that after his father returned to Gaza in 1995, right after the Oslo accords, he found it hard to utter the word "dad."

"Only last year could I call him my father; I have never felt that I have a father," Adnan said. "How could I call him 'dad' while was never around over the past years?" Adnan said that his father now also has four daughters and a son with another wife.

But despite such feelings, Adnan said his mother always told him and his brothers, "At the end of the day he is your father."

For Nihad as well, the return of his father was fraught. "For the first time ever since he returned to Gaza, to my surprise I took some money my father held in front of us while visiting us at this home. I don't know what happened, maybe I just felt I needed to take rather than give. I had been deprived of taking money from a father like other children on this earth," Nihad said, a smile on his face.

However, Umm Jihad reminded, "I have always been keen not to deprive my sons of anything they need ... Thank God, they do their best to make me the happiest mother in the neighborhood, may God be satisfied with them."

All photos by Rami Almeghari.

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

  Thursday, October 28, 2010

MK Hanin Zoabi Wounded By israeli Fire

By Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

Arab member of the Israeli Knesset, Haneen Zoabi, stated that she was hit by two rubber-coated bullets fired by the Israeli police during Wednesday clashes in Umm al-Fahm, after the police violently attacked protesters who took off to the streets to counter a march by fundamentalist settlers.

The Arabs48 news website reported that Zoabi was deliberately targeted by the police.

The police fired dozens of gas bombs and rubber-coated bullets at the protesters and also chased and clubbed several residents before arresting them.

Dozens of residents were wounded by rubber-coated bullets, while others were treated after inhaling gas fired by the police. The wounded residents were moved to local hospitals.

A local reporter, identified as Mohammad Watad, was hit by a gas bomb in his neck, and member of the National Democratic Assembly, Murad Haddad, was shot by a rubber-coated bullet in his foot leading to a fracture.

The Arabs48 news website reported that the police deliberately attacked political leaders including Mohammad Zeidan, head of the Higher Follow-up Committee; MK Dr. Jamal Zahalka; Awad Abdul-Fattah, secretary-general of the National Democratic Assembly; Umm al-Fahm mayor, Khaled Hamdan; MK Afou Agbaria and several other political and social figures.

MK Zoabi told the Arabs48 news that “the real threat against the protesters did not actually come from the extremist settlers, but in fact came from the police who deliberately attacked the protesters with the intent to hurt them”.

She added that the police started firing rubber-coated bullets way before any clashes took place, and that the police apparently intended to send a message stating that “Arabs who defend themselves and stand for their rights, will be punished”.

Zoabi further stated that the police apparently agrees with the mentality and stances of the extreme fundamentalist right-wingers in Israel, “therefore, the police is more dangerous that the extremists, as policemen can justify the use violence without being punished”.

She added that the Arabs will continue to defend themselves and their lands, and will always demand their legitimate rights in their own historical country.

'israel benefited Rafiq Hariri murder'

The former head of Israel's Military Intelligence says Israel benefited from the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

Major General Amos Yadlin said on Wednesday that Israel has been able to launch more than one operation in Lebanon following Hariri's killing.

In 2005, Hariri was killed in a massive car bombing in the capital city of Beirut.

He also admitted that Tel Aviv carried out the terror assassination of Hezbollah's commander Imad Mughniyeh in Syria two years ago.

The former official noted that Israel restored a huge number of espionage networks inside Lebanon and managed to assassinate Mughniyeh through the very same spy rings.

Yadlin claimed Mughniyeh's murder helped Israel enter a new stage in its conflict with Hezbollah, adding that the Israeli Military Intelligence should proceed with such plans in Lebanon.

Earlier reports had revealed that chief of Israeli spy agency Mossad Meir Dagan personally planned the assassination at orders by former Israeli premier Ehud Olmert.

Mughniyeh, who was one of the most prominent Hezbollah figures, was assassinated in a car bomb explosion in the Syrian capital on February 12, 2008.

Hezbollah held the Israeli regime responsible for the assassination of Mughniyeh, but the regime's officials at the time denied having any role in the assassination.


Life in Palestinian Refugee Camps


Besides mass slaughter and destruction, wars create refugees, millions at times, uprooted, displaced and homeless, on their own somehow to survive. Israel's "War of Independence" was no different, dispossessing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, a story Western media reports don't explain or even mention.

In his book, "My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story," Ramzy Baroud recounted his father Mohammed's story. Born in 1938 in Beit Daras village, he saw it conquered, leveled and erased, except from the memory he took to his grave. A captive in his own land, he lived years as a Gaza Nuseirat camp refugee, raising his family including son Ramzy, dreaming always of going home, struggling as a freedom fighter to end decades of conflict, violence, occupation, and oppression, what Edward Said called "a slow death," shattered hopes, and inexorable toll of its incalculable horror to so many.

Spanning over seven decades of history and survivor recollections, it tells a powerful firsthand story of those who lived it, not the airbrushed Western version of the new Israeli state, born in blood, mass slaughter, destruction, and displacement of hundreds of thousands of survivors, to this day oppressed, harassed, intimidated, humiliated, attacked and arrested for being Muslims, not Jews on their own land, in their own country, illegally occupied for decades.

In his book "Behind the Wall: Life, Love, and Struggle in Palestine," Rick Wiles recounts other refugee stories, people he encountered firsthand in the West Bank, connecting them to their original villages, expulsion, daily life and dreams of return.

Abu Gaush shared his own 1967 experience, saying:

During the Six Day War, "My family fled to the mountains as we were frightened that 1948 was happening all over again....The soldiers emptied all the houses in the villages and forced everyone out onto the streets. The only direction left was to Ramallah, and they told us to go there. Other soldiers were saying, 'Go to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) - all land before there is ours - and if you stop before (arriving), we will kill you.' "

Including poignant photos, Wiles' book includes seven sections, discussing: Memories of Exile, The Wall, The Spirit of Resistance, Purity and Love, Land of Palestine, Strength and Sumoud (steadfastness), and Dreams of Return, including his final image of a grandfather giving his original home's key to his son, symbolic of the continuing right to return struggle, what won't ever stop until succeeding.

Numbers of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons

Al Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, says Palestinian refugees today are the world's "longest suffering and largest refugee population." In its January 2010 report titled, "Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, 2008 - 2009," the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights (BRC) calls them "the largest and longest-standing case of forced displacement in the world today," numbering 9.8 million, increasing by about 100,000 a year.

Most are refugees, another 450,000 internally displaced. For over six decades, they've been denied solutions and reparations for their rights under international law and UN resolutions. An earlier article discussed BRC's report in detail, accessed through the following link:

Life in Occupied Camps

Besides those internally displaced, Palestinians have lived in forced exile for decades throughout the world, most within 100 km of their original homes. Those in camps comprise about 21% of the total. Hundreds of thousands of others are in 17 unofficial camps in Occupied Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. About 79% live outside UNRWA's 58 camps, including many in West Bank villages and cities, about 100 locales comprising over half the population.

In 2008, the European University Institute's Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies published a report titled, "Palestine Refugee Camps: Disciplinary Space and Territory of Exception," examining daily camp life in 59 camps: 19 in the West Bank, 8 in Gaza, 12 in Lebanon, 10 in Jordan, and 10 in Syria. Saying they're not "natural" settings, they become "slum areas" or under-developed urban sprawls, some "open spaces," others "closed."

In Lebanon, for example, "the gap between the numbers of camp and urban refugee enormous," compared to Jordan and Syria where differences are minimal, yet even "country-by-country analysis does not in any way suggest internal homogeneity, because the question of camp locations within the different countries matters as well."

Some are more urban, other peripheral or rural, the differences among them huge, including job discrimination, poverty, and overall conditions. According to Norweigian Institute for Applied Social Science surveys in Jordan and Syria, Palestinian refugee living conditions for those outside camps differ little from host country populations. In camps, however, it's worse, especially in Lebanon. Education there is one of many problems, 60% of 18 - 29 year old Palestinians not finishing school.

In Lebanon and Jordan, 60% of camp homes lack proper sanitary installations for safe drinking water. Population density is a major issue, too many people occupying too little space, creating an enormous environmental and public health problem. Buildings are crammed together in narrow alleys, with little natural light, exposure to hazardous substances, inadequate temperature control, and poor ventilation. In Lebanon, the infant mortality rate is 239 per 100,000 births, and chronic infant illnesses are up to three times higher than the country's norm.

The Schuman Centre's study preceded Cast Lead, so its Gaza analysis needed updating. The war displaced up to 90,000 people and caused mass destruction. Yet little reconstruction is possible with the Strip under siege and virtually all needed materials and spare parts banned. In addition, three years of closure wrecked Gaza's economy, and sent unemployment and poverty levels soaring - the former up to 65%, the latter 80% with 96% of the Strip's industrial capacity shuttered, leaving well over 80% of the population aid-dependent. Three-fourths of Gazans live in camps, but all of them get below minimal amounts of everything, struggling daily to survive.

Overall, Palestinians see camps as "symbols of illegitimacy," a disconnected gray zone under occupation conditions. Of the 4.8 million registered by UNWRA, about 1.2 million live in Gaza, another 800,000 in the West Bank in 27 camps - 19 in the West Bank, 8 in Gaza, the rest in towns and villages.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), their 2009 dependency ratio is 85.3% in Gaza and 72.1% in the West Bank. High unemployment and poverty remain grave in both areas, especially in Gaza. So does public health and malnutrition, causing growing levels of illnesses and chronic diseases.

UNWRA calls the refugee population "victims of health inequalities," the occupation, of course, the main contributor, resulting in a chronic imbalance between needs and demands on the one hand, and resources and other constraints on the other. Healthcare, personal safety, legal and political protection, and human welfare are fundamental human rights. Under occupation, they're consistently denied, especially in Gaza under siege.

Despite established laws, no international body has an explicit mandate to protect Palestinian refugees. After the 1948 Nakba, the UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP), UNWRA, and later the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were supposed to provide aid, protection, and reparations, but supplied little. In addition, UN agencies, the ICRC, and world community, in deference to Israel, avoided durable solutions, including their obligation to enforce binding international law provisions.

Moreover, refugees are seen more as needing humanitarian aid than having mandated rights, even though international law protects them, including their "inalienable right" of return. As a result, displaced Palestinians remain among the world's most neglected, abused people, including diaspora ones (the majority) excluded from the political process and peace negotiations.

The Palestinian National Authority (PA) represents those in the Territories alone, but, in fact, given the Hamas/Fatah split, only West Bank and East Jerusalemites. Most Palestinians are thus disenfranchised. As a result, a volunteer Civitas participant, a collective research project on exiled Palestinian communities, expressed her frustration, saying:

"Before the peace treaties, Palestinian political parties were more effective, and we had a voice: we worked properly! We made our voice heard to the entire world. But the world now hears only the voice of the Palestinian president, and his prime minister. As a citizen, I no longer have a voice. His voice is enough, (and he collaborates with Israel. Earlier) my voice was heard. If....peace....silence(s) me then I don't want it!"

Diaspora and internal refugees demand their legal rights. Those in Gaza and the West Bank can challenge their occupier directly. Those outside cannot. Without legal documents, passports, travel rights, identity papers, electoral involvement, and ownership and inheritance entitlements, they can't seek redress for decades of injustice, what Israel all along has denied, unchallenged by PA officials. Unless their collective voices are heard, the conflict's historical roots and their rights will go unaddressed, and they'll remain the world's "longest suffering and largest refugee population."

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

  Wednesday, October 27, 2010

BDS movement claims victories

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 25 October 2010

At least fifteen Palestinians were injured in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Friday, 22 October, when Israeli forces opened fire at a demonstration against the wall and ongoing land confiscation.

Villagers "marched alongside Israeli and international supporters towards the village lands, where Israel is building the wall," the Palestinian News Network (PNN) reported. "Soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas at them, injuring 15 civilians, one critically. Troops also fired tear gas into homes, burning three houses. Soldiers took a fourth house and told the owner they would use it as a military post for 45 days" ("Fifteen injured, Three Homes Burned In Nabi Saleh Village," 22 October 2010).

That same day, in the village of al-Masara near Bethlehem, one international activist was wounded and two others were arrested by Israeli soldiers during a similar weekly protest against the planned construction of the wall. "Israeli soldiers stopped the protesters near the local school and used tear gas and sound bombs to force them back. A French activist sustained head injuries from a tear gas bomb and soldiers arrested two other internationals," according to PNN. ("One Injured, Two Arrested, During Wall Protest Near Bethlehem," 22 October 2010).

Elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, PNN reported that three Palestinian youths were injured that same day by Israeli-fired tear gas canisters during a protest in the village of Bilin. Villagers have waged regular, nonviolent demonstrations for several years against the encroaching Israeli wall and the nearby settlement colonies. Eight-year-old Lamma Abu Rahma, 17-year-old Muhammad al-Khatib and 17-year-old Ahmad Burnat were hit in the legs and feet by the tear gas grenades. ("Three Civilians Injured During Weekly Bil'in Anti Wall Protest," 22 October 2010).

In related news, EU representatives and consuls general in Jerusalem released a statement on 20 October condemning the imprisonment of Abdallah Abu Rahme, a leader of the nonviolent resistance movement in Bilin who was recently sentenced by a military court to one year in Israeli prison. "The EU considers Abdallah Abu Rahme a human rights defender who has protested in a peaceful manner against the route of the Israeli separation barrier through his village of Bilin," said the statement. "The EU considers the route of the barrier where it is built on Palestinian land to be illegal. The EU supports the key role of human rights defenders in promoting and furthering of human rights" ("EU Representatives Regret Israeli Military Court Sentence," 20 October 2010).

Meanwhile, around the globe, solidarity activists accelerated efforts to hold Israel accountable for its repressive policies, as well as corporations that profit from Israel's human rights abuses.


The Irish government has officially refused to grant weapons manufacturer Israel Military Industries a contract to supply 10 million bullets to the Irish Defense Forces, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) confirmed. Organizers had waged a seven-month campaign of lobbying, letter-writing and protesting outside the constituency offices of Ireland's defense minister Tony Killeen.

In an 11 October press release, the IPSC National Chairperson Freda Hughes stated "We commend the Irish government's actions in this instance. For the Irish government to have bought bullets from Israel -- the same bullets that have been used to murder thousands of Palestinians over the past decade -- would have given succor to that rogue state, and given the impression that it can do what it likes to the Palestinian people and not suffer any consequences. The IPSC is proud of our campaign around this issue, and have no doubt that it played a role, albeit unacknowledged, in bringing about this decision" ("Victory as Palestine campaigners welcome Government scrapping of 'Israeli bullets' deal, warn against future deals," 11 October 2010).


On 6 October, student activists in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh were able to shut down a career fair at Edinburgh University in protest of the inclusion of a major weapons manufacturer, BAE Systems, which produces and sells arms and equipment to the Israeli military. According to a press release issued by Edinburgh University Students for Justice In Palestine, a dozen students entered the career fair, holding the Palestinian flag and banners that read "BAE - Blatant Absence of Ethics" and "BAE sells - Israel kills" ("Students Shut Down Careers Fair in Protest," 7 October 2010).

"Upon being asked to leave by security, the students held a 'die-in' in front of the stall, to symbolize all the people killed by BAE's weapons," the press release stated.

"BAE Systems is the world's second-largest arms producer," the the students' statement added. "It makes fighter aircraft, armored vehicles, artillery systems, missiles, munitions and much more. In 2008, company sales exceeded £18.5 (USD $29) billion, with about 95 percent of these being for military use. BAE has been under investigation for corruption and was, as a result, forced earlier this year to pay a £30 (USD $40) million fine in the UK and one of $400 million in the US. BAE's arms are sold indiscriminately around the world, with military customers in over 100 countries. These countries include Israel."


In Norway, a petition calling for a widespread institutional cultural and academic boycott of Israel has quickly gathered a hundred signatories, following major divestment actions by the Norwegian government ("Call for an academic and cultural boycott of the state of Israel"). Norway's state sovereign wealth fund -- which is the third-largest in the world, holding more than $300 billion -- recently moved to divest from both Elbit Systems and Africa Israel. The two Israeli corporations are deeply involved with the construction of Israel's wall and the ongoing settlement industry in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in violation of international law.

The Norwegian petition, drafted by academics and activists in support of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, has been signed by academics, writers, musicians, cultural workers and sports figures, including Egil "Drillo" Olsen, the coach of the Norwegian national soccer team. Following the Israeli commando raid and deadly attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla in May, a national public opinion poll found that approximately 40 percent of all Norwegians had already begun to boycott Israeli products or were in favor of doing so.


After a broad-based grassroots campaign in the town of Cigales, a town in Spain's Valladolid province, the city council voted to remove bottled water produced by the Israeli company Eden Springs Ltd. from all municipal buildings.

In a press release, activists with the Platform for Solidarity with Palestine-Valladolid stated that with this decision, "the City Council joins the international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel. The City Council of Cigales has taken this decision after a strong mobilization of its [residents], including demonstrations, signature event and public awareness campaigns" ("El Ayuntamiento de Cigales retira la marca israelí de agua embotellada Eden de sus dependencias," 21 October 2010).

Activists say that this is the third successful boycott campaign against Eden products this year in the Valladolid province. In June, teachers and workers at a nursing school at the University of Valladolid pressured the administration to remove Eden water from vending machines; and the City Council of Villanueva de Duero, a nearby town, removed Eden from its municipal buildings as well.


The Asia to Gaza Caravan, a group of approximately five hundred activists from seventeen different Asian countries, plans to gather in New Delhi, India, on 1 December. Activists intend to march through 18 cities in Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt in an effort to pressure Israel to lift the siege and blockade on Gaza.

Organized by Asian People's Solidarity for Palestine, activists will be carrying humanitarian supplies intended for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, with the march culminating at the Rafah crossing into southern Gaza.

According to the campaign's website (, organizers say that the caravan will coordinate with existing and new solidarity groups during the march. "The aim of this campaign is to build a diverse and inclusive Asian solidarity for the Palestinians and against the blockade that denies the Palestinians their rights," state the organizers on the website.

The fifth Viva Palestina convoy arrives in Gaza, 22 October 2010.


In Egypt, more than three hundred activists affiliated with the "Viva Palestina" organization arrived in the port town of al-Arish with humanitarian aid -- including more than $5 million worth of medical equipment and food supplies, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz ("Viva Palestina Activists Deliver Tons of Aid to Gaza Strip," 21 October 2010).

United States

At Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the university's undergraduate council, representing 6,700 undergraduate students, voted on 18 October to approve a bill calling on Harvard President Drew Faust "to establish a commission of concerned faculty, students and administrators to investigate" their decision to honor Martin Peretz. The council also "fully condemned" Harvard's decision to accept a $650,000 fund for undergraduate social studies research named after Peretz.

Martin Peretz, a former Harvard professor, is the editor-in-chief of the Washington DC-based New Republic magazine, and recently wrote in an op-ed that "Muslim life is cheap," and that Muslims should not be afforded free speech rights under the US Constitution. Peretz has also opined that Palestinians are "unfit" to govern their own country, and that Arabs in general are "genetically" predisposed to violence.

Peretz also wrote that many African-Americans "are afflicted by cultural deficiencies" and that "in the ghetto a lot of mothers don't appreciate the importance of schooling." He also claimed that "Latin societ[ies]" exhibit "characteristic deficiencies" such as "congenital corruption" and "near-tropical work habits."

Protesting Peretz' honoring by the university, more than four hundred students and faculty signed a letter written by student organizations including the Harvard Islamic Society, the Black Students Association, Latinas Unidas, the Society of Arab Students and the Progressive Jewish Alliance. "Such an invitation lends legitimacy and respectability to views that can only be described as abhorrent and racist in their implication that the rights guaranteed by the US Constitution should be withheld from certain citizens based on their religious affiliation," the organizations stated ("Student Letter Criticizes Marty Peretz," The Harvard Crimson, 20 September 2010).

The bill gained the support of both the university student president and vice president, and passed two council committees before reaching the student union floor and passing by a wide margin: 26-7, with four abstentions.


And finally, Palestine solidarity activists and groups convened last weekend in Montreal, Canada, for the BDS Conferénce Montréal. The conference, organizers state on the website, "aim[ed] to regain the momentum of the international BDS campaign in Quebec, and bring together organizations that stand in solidarity with the plight of Palestinians. Through a collaborative approach, organizations can work together to start building a popular BDS movement in order to educate and inform the Canadian public." Community and international activists, such as Omar Barghouti, coordinator of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the Palestinian Boycott National Committee, and members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions presented panel discussions and workshops over the weekend to hundreds of attendants.

Colonists Flood Palestinian Village With Sewage

Palestine Monitor

Beit Ummar is just one of hundreds of villages in Palestine under constant harassment from Israeli settlers. They have suffered the loss of their land, limited access to their own water supply, rocks smashing their windows, midnight arrests, tear gas, rubber bullets, and daily Israeli military aggression. The most recent insult: settlers’ feaces covering the vineyards of Beit Ummar.

Twelve vital acres of farmland lie underneath thousands of litres of raw sewage leaked from the nearby illegal settlement of Gush Etzion. The settlement stores its sewage in a reservoir, where it is filtered to extract non-potable “grey” water for agricultural purposes. The leftover, concentrated toxic sludge was released on October 18, downhill directly onto Palestinian farmland. The stench is overpowering, the grape harvests ruined, and the residents of Beit Ummar are tired.

“Even if the Israelis never dump sewage again,” said Beit Ummar Public Committee volunteer Raied Aboyyash, “the land would need to be cleaned with a chemical solvent and the top meter of polluted dirt removed, and then new dirt brought in.”

This is the fourth time this year the settlement has pumped sewage from their storage reservoir into Beit Ummar, destroying crops and effectively depriving the farmers of thousands of shekels in lost harvest. Following settler threats after the weekly Saturday demonstration against the annexation wall in the village, last Monday sewage again surged onto the farmland. The previous week eight peaceful protesters were arrested, held down and pepper-sprayed.

One of the arrested, a twenty-four-year old student named Eiad Alalame, was sentenced to six months in jail and fined 4,000 shekels, charged with demonstrating illegally. Earlier this month, Israeli Defense Forces raided eleven Beit Ummar Public Committee volunteers’ houses at 2 am, breaking furniture and threatening arrests if the peaceful protests continue. Israeli occupation forces continues to terrorize local volunteers and activists: early yesterday morning on October 23, two additional pre-dawn raids forced family members of Beit Ummar villagers into the streets.

The villagers of Beit Ummar rented a bulldozer on the afternoon of October 18 and dug a large reservoir to contain the sewage water and prevent the waste from spreading and causing further damage. The next morning, the settlers of Gush Etzion descended into the Palestinian farmland, and forced the rented bulldozer into the middle of the toxic pond. Villagers then rented a crane to extract the bulldozer from the sludge, and climbed into the toxic muck in order to salvage their costly equipment.

JPG - 39.3 kb
The villagers rented a bulldozer to create a containment reservoir for the toxic sludge, trying to prevent further damage (Photo Palestine Solidarity Project)

The sludge contains bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi that can cause serious illness and death. Microbes from raw sewage can enter the body through the nose, mouth, or open cuts. Even more daunting for Beit Ummar’s future is the likelihood of groundwater contamination - the area is already plagued by drought and suffering from Israeli control of precious water resources.

The farmers are left to clean the farmland themselves, with the assistance of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society and volunteers. They must also buy new plants. The Palestinian farmers are not provided any reparations or financial assistance by the government for their lost crops, nor are they compensated for the loss of land stolen by the Israelis settlements or blocked behind the wall. Instead, the villagers of Beit Ummar must depend on the help of civil society organisations. The Palestinian Agricultural Committee will help the farmers by providing new plants, but this is pointless without necessary soil replacement and protection from the settlers.

The Israeli military told the Public Committee members of Beit Ummar that they would stop “making problems” for the village if the weekly demonstrations against the construction of the wall were to cease. However, the villagers feel that the continued construction of the wall, which will take away an additional 1,550 acres of land from the village, is a problem in itself. The people of Beit Ummar will continue to protest, facing arrest, fines, and harassment, trudging across their soiled fields.

Major rabbi says non-Jews are donkeys, created to serve Jews

  Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Colony Mouth ~
"settlements are not an obstacle to peace"

TEL AVIV (Ma'an) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that construction in existing West Bank settlements "does not contradict the aspiration for peace and an agreement."

Addressing the Knesset at a session to mark the 15th anniversary of the assassination of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Netanyahu said the partial settlement freeze was a temporary "gesture."

Peace talks, relaunched last month in Washington, quickly reached a deadlock over Netanyahu's refusal to extend restrictions on settlement expansion, despite pleas from the US, UN, EU and Russia. The PLO's Executive Committee on Saturday reiterated its stance that negotiations would not resume until Israel stopped expanding settlements on land which would be a future Palestinian state.

The Associated Press said Wednesday that ground has been broken on 544 new West Bank homes since the partial freeze expired on 26 September.

The prime minister further said a Palestinian state must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Netanyahu quoted from Rabin's final speech to the Knesset, in which he said "We are convinced that a binational state will not be able to fulfill the Jewish role of the State of Israel, which is the state of the Jews."

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have criticized a recent bill passed by the Cabinet, which would require all those seeking citizenship to swear loyalty to a Jewish state. Palestinian officials said it discriminated against Israel's Palestinian minority, who make up around 20 percent of Israel's population, and threatened the right of Palestinian refugees to return. The bill sparked protests in Tel Aviv, as critics of the amendment described it as fascist and racist.

The prime minister said that Israelis were no longer divided into two opposing camps. Over the last 15 years, "our positions have grown closer together; the gaps have narrowed," he said.

Quoting further from Rabin's speech, Netanyahu said "The land of the prophets, which bequeathed to the world the values of morality, law and justice, was, after two thousand years, restored to its lawful owners -- the members of the Jewish people. On its land, we have built an exceptional national home and state."

The prime minister continued to cite Rabin's call that "The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term. 'Jerusalem,' Rabin said in his speech, would be 'united as the capital of Israel under Israeli sovereignty,' and 'will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev'"

Palestinian negotiators and the international community insist that a two-state solution must be based on 1967 borders. Ma'ale Adumin and Givat Ze'ev are recognized by the international community as illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, which Palestinians consider the capital of a future state.

Calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state, Netanyahu said "We withdrew from Lebanon and Iran is sitting on the border. We withdrew from Gaza and there, too, Iran is sitting on the border. We cannot let this happen a third time."

"Fundamentalist Islam" had strengthened exponentially, and was the greatest enemy to peace, Netanyahu said, adding that Israel must "join hands with the free world" to face "the enemy of our country."

  Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shooting And Electric-Shocking Palestinian Children

By Stephen Lendman

21 October, 2010

Defence for Children International (DCI) Palestine Section (DCI/Palestine) "is a national section of the international non-government child rights organisation and movement (dedicated) to promoting and protecting the rights of Palestinian children," according to international law principles.

Two earlier articles addressed their work, accessed though the following links:

Both covered Israel's systematic, institutionalized use of torture of Palestinian children as brutally as against adults. DCI/Palestine's latest September Bulletin adds more, saying:

"For the first time....three (documented) cases of children reporting being given electric shocks by Israeli interrogators (occurred) in Ari'el Settlement." Each was accused of stone throwing. Electric shocking extracted confessions although the boys maintain their innocence.

DCI and PACTI (the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel) demanded Israel investigate reports that a Gush Etzion settlement interrogator "attached car battery jump leads to the genitals of a 14-year old boy in order to obtain a confession to stone throwing."

The August 5 incident involved four boys walking near a road used by settlers when an Israeli jeep approached. "Just for fun," one boy waved. The jeep turned, was joined by others, and chased the boys. They were seized, blindfolded, painfully shackled, detained, and taken to the Zufin settlement, then to the Ari'el settlement where one boy, Raed, was interrogated.

Though innocent, "Threat of electrocution" made him confess to stone throwing, after which his head was slammed against a cupboard. He was also punched in the stomach, and a second interrogator shocked him with a handheld device, making him dizzy and shiver. He then signed a confession in Hebrew he couldn't understand, was transferred to Salem Interrogation and Detention Center, after which he was taken to Megiddo Prison, in violation of Fourth Geneva's Article 76, pertaining to the rights assured protected persons detained under occupation.

A second incident involved a 17-year old boy, Malek, falsely accused of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. About 30 soldiers arrested and brutalized him like Raed before transferring him to Ofer Prison. On arrival, he was painfully struck on the head, then interrogated and threatened with physical violence and rape if he didn't confess. "He denied both accusations" during a two hour interrogation.

On September 15, 13-year old Khalil was arrested and accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail. At 1AM, Israeli soldiers smashed windows of his family's home, searched it, and took him to Ma'ale Adumin settlement. Though innocent, he was threatened with rape and intimidated to confess. He signed a six page document in Hebrew he didn't understand and has been detained at Ofer prison.

An earlier incident involved 16 year old Moatasem, arrested on March 20. He remains in administrative detention without charge or trial, at best hoping for a December release. Like the others, from arrest to detention, he was brutalized. During interrogation, he was asked about a plot involving a riot, bullets and weapons with no further explanation, something he knew nothing about and said so. On March 25, he was ordered administratively held for six months, then extended three more on September 26.

On average, from January 2008 - September 2010, Israel held over 300 Palestinian children captive, about 10% of them aged 12 - 15. Usually when complaints or requests for investigations into child arrests and mistreatment are submitted to the Judge Advocate General's Office (JAG), responses aren't forthcoming or issued raised are denied.

Shooting Children Collecting Building Gravel

Separately, DCI/Palestine reported on 12 incidents from May 22 - October 14, 2010, involving children aged 13 - 17, collecting gravel near Gaza's border fence with Israel. Under siege, Israel banned construction materials, forcing hundreds of men and boys to scavenge for what they can find, collecting gravel, placing it in sacks, loading it on donkeys, then selling it to builders for concrete.

In border watch towers, Israeli soldiers at times shoot and kill donkeys. They also target workers, usually shooting at their legs. In recent DCI/Palestine-documented cases, children reported being shot while working from 50 - 800 meters from the border.

In addition, a UN January 2009 - August 2010 study reported at least 22 Gazan civilians killed and 146 injured by live fire adjacent to Israel's border, including 27 children.

Of DCI's 12 documented cases, nine "were on, or outside the 300 metre exclusion zone unilaterally imposed by the Israeli army when they were shot." Under all circumstances with no exceptions, international law prohibits targeting noncombatant civilians. Israel, of course, flouts all international laws with impunity.

On November 10 and 11, DCI/Palestine in cooperation with DCI's International Executive Council and DCI International Secretariat, Geneva, will conduct an International Children's Conference titled, "Protective Environment - Active Participation," under the motto - "Together We Build and Change."

DCI explains that "Child participation is one of the four basic principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child." Under occupation, involving them is especially important to address their collective needs, interests, and concerns. The upcoming conference thus encourages children to participate and facilitates it "by finding the spaces for them to carry it out."

Some Final Comments

On October 19, published a wide-ranging interview with Khaled Mesh'al, since 1996, Chairman of Hamas' Political Bureau. Exiled in Damascus, he became the movement's overall leader after Israel assassinated Abdul 'Aziz Rantisi in 2004. His comments below are based on a July published interview in Jordan's Arabic language Al-Sabeel newspaper.

(1) Negotiating with Israel

Calling it a thorny and sensitive issue, he stressed that it's "not absolutely prohibited....from a legal or political perspective," but must be subject to "equations, regulations, calculations, circumstances, contexts and proper management...." Otherwise, "it becomes a negative and destructive tool."

Currently, he calls it the wrong choice, given the imbalance of power favoring Israel, saying it "refuses to withdraw from the (seized) land, and does not recognise Palestinian rights." Negotiations under such conditions are fruitless. Israel demands but won't give. On equal fair terms, negotiations are very acceptable.

(2) Recognizing Israel

As things now stand, he believes recognition means legitimizing occupation, "aggression, settlement(s), Judaization, murders, arrests, and other crimes and atrocities against our people and our land." Recognition must be earned, not demanded or given, based on equity for both sides. Israel shows no sign of agreeing.

(3) Suggesting Israel and international insistence on recognition a sign of weakness, not stength

"Without a doubt, the enemy is concerned about (its) matter" its regional strength. "The demand for recognition is certainly a sign of weakness, an expression of....inferiority, (and) a feeling that it is illegitimate and still rejected" by regional states "as alien" intruders.

However, superiority feelings also come into play, or in other words, the way "Western nations deal with third world countries," believing they alone dictate terms from a position of strength, including negotiating preconditions.

(4) Why Israel and the international community reject Hamas' proposed long-term truce

First, "the logic of power." Second, "they see Arab and Palestinian parties making (better) offers." Third, Israeli and Western experience suggests pressure works best, forcing adversaries or counterparties to succumb.

(5) Hamas' resistance model

It's "a natural and authentic part of the experience of the Palestinian struggle" for liberation and ending the occupation.

(6) Hamas and international relations

First, the "conviction that the Palestine battle (is for) humanity against Israeli injustice and oppression. Second, "the necessity of promoting (the) legitimate right to resist occupation and aggression." Third, the importance of using the world stage to address injustice. Fourth, concern for developing relations at all levels. Fifth, doing it begins in the region, "the plant (to) harvest (in) the West."

(7) Hamas and Jews

"We do not fight the Zionists because they are Jews; we fight them because they are occupiers," and commit crimes against the Palestinian people. The struggle isn't about religion.

(8) Hamas and women

"Women in the Islamic concept of thought, jurisprudence, mandate and role are - indeed - one half of society, and (have) been given (their) prestige and respect. However, there is a huge difference between respect and appreciation for women and (their) rightful role (on the one hand), and abusing (them) and presenting (them) as cheap commodit(ies) as is done in the Western civilization (on the other)." In Palestine's struggle for liberation, women play a distinctive role,"not only as mothers, wives and sisters," but as activists, teachers, fighters, and providers of logistical assistance.

(9) Zionism's future

It "has no future in the region." It's in decline, and except for attacking Beirut in 1982, Israel hasn't won a war since 1967. "This is an important indicator of the Zionist project's ability....In my estimation, the 'Greater Israel' project has come to an end, simply because the Zionist enemy is no longer able to accomplish it, and because Israel continues (self-destructively) on the same path as did apartheid South Africa."

(10) Israel's role as a regional strategic asset

It's no longer so, especially after the Goldstone Report and Gaza Flotilla massacre. As a result, "Israel is falling morally, and its true ugly face is being exposed. This is a very important development." It signifies "premature aging of this enterprise....In short, the Zionist project, like all other" forms of occupation, colonizations, and aggression, "has no legitimacy because it is alien to our region and lacks the elements of survival." It will end like all the others.

(11) The region's future

It's very much in flux with years before better resolution. However, we're "confiden(t) and hop(eful) that the future will be to the benefit of the nation and the Palestinian resistance and cause....Our reading is not fanciful, and is certainly not defeatist." It's realistic and achievable.

"We are a great nation, proud of ourselves, our religion, our land, our history, our culture and identity." Palestine and Jerusalem as one is "our beating heart and an indicator of our life and survival."

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

  Saturday, October 23, 2010

Remembering Furkan Dogan

Ralph G. Loeffler writing from Kayseri, Turkey, Live from Palestine, 18 October 2010

Furkan Dogan. I'm going to say Furkan Dogan so often that it will sound, as it rightly should, just as "American" as John Smith or Bill Jones. Furkan Dogan was an American, a young American of only 19 years when on 31 May a hail of Israeli bullets ended his life on the Mavi Marmara Turkish humanitarian aid ship. Furkan was filming the Israeli assault when an Israeli commando fired his first shot pointblank hitting Furkan squarely in the face. Four more shots were fired into Furkan leaving him dead and unrecognizable.

The Mavi Marmara, the largest ship of an international flotilla of six vessels that made of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, was carrying food, medicine and school supplies to the Israeli besieged Gaza Strip. The Israelis have blockaded Gaza since the Hamas government was democratically elected in 2006. For more than three weeks, in December 2008 and January 2009 the Israelis wantonly attacked Gaza destroying essential infrastructure and killing more than 1,400 citizens, a large percentage of them women and children.

Furkan, who was born in the Albany-Troy area of New York, had gone back to live in his family's hometown of Kayseri, Turkey. His family knew the names of the eight Turkish nationals who had been killed on the Mavi Marmara but one casualty had not been immediately identified. In their normal pattern of lies and misinformation the Israelis had not identified Furkan because he was an American. They waited until the initial impact of their murderous attack on innocent, defenseless humanitarians subsided a bit before confirming the ninth victim was Furkan.

When Furkan's father went to meet the Mavi Marmara's survivors and casualties he had no idea that his son had been murdered. Instead of greeting his son he was taken to the morgue to identify his remains. Surely such a day defies description.

In an immediate reaction to the Mavi Marmara massacre Viva Palestina announced plans for another humanitarian aid mission to Gaza. Viva Palestina, a UK-based charity founded by former Member of British Parliament George Galloway, launched its initial land aid convoy in March 2009 shortly after the Israeli attack ended. On 18 September 2010, four missions later, Viva Palestina 5 left the UK for Gaza.

The Viva Palestina 5 convoy arrived in Kayseri late on 29 September and spent the night on a mountain overlooking the town. We had come to Kaseyri for the sole purpose of visiting Furkan's gravesite and extending our condolences to his family. The following morning we were told that our convoy would be passing by the high school from which Furkan had graduated and that students from the school would be waiting for us. As we began our slow journey down the twisting mountain road the convoy took on the air of a funeral procession. Suddenly, there they were. The students lined both sides of the road standing for who knows how long. Each one sadly, silently, proudly held up Furkan's picture as the convoy rolled by.

Beautiful, moving words were spoken at the gravesite and afterwards we met with Furkan's family at the recently built community center named in Furkan's honor. The grandfather and uncle bore their grief perhaps with the acceptance of mortality that comes with age. But the older brother's grief was palpable. Deep, dark lines were etched under his eyes and he seemed detached from his surroundings. The despair evident on his face made a statement greater than words could ever do.

Any country should be proud to have a promising young man such as Furkan as one of its own. Intelligent and mature beyond his years Furkan had already dedicated his life to the struggle for Palestinian justice. Such a course bears no import with the US Congress, which allows for the US bankrolling of the occupation. And the Israeli thug who gunned down Furkan is no more responsible for murdering him than Furkan's own country which paid for the bullets.

Ralph G. Loeffler is an activist with the International Action Center in New York City.

The Forgotten American

  Friday, October 22, 2010

U.S. Activist's Death Pits Parents Against lsrael

by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro                                            h/t Jnoubiyeh
Cindy and Craig CorrieCindy and Craig Corrie, seen earlier this month in Jerusalem, are suing the Israeli Defense Forces to get a full accounting of their daughter's death. Rachel Corrie was crushed by a bulldozer as she tried to stop it from demolishing a Palestinian home in 2003.
October 21, 2010

Cindy Corrie says she'd given little thought to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict until her daughter Rachel became immersed in it.

"She'd check out documentary films from the college library, and we watched them together," she says. "She'd send me books about the situation in Gaza. My really deeper education into this began with her."

But it wasn't until Rachel was killed in 2003 that Corrie and her husband, Craig, were catapulted out of their comfortable lives in Olympia, Wash., and into their unlikely roles as activist icons.

Rachel came to Israel seven years ago, drawn by what she saw as injustices faced by Palestinians. She was killed by a bulldozer manned by Israeli soldiers as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip.

Now her parents are suing the Israeli Defense Forces to get a full accounting of her death.

"When Rachel was killed, it was overwhelming," says Craig Corrie, who took a six-month leave of absence from his job after Rachel's death. "At the end of six months, oddly enough, I was in Gaza instead of back at my office."

Suing For Answers

The Corries were looking for answers they say they have yet to get. The internal military investigation at the time ruled that Rachel's death was an accident, that she had been partially hidden by a mound of dirt, so those driving the bulldozer couldn't see her. No one was charged.
Rachel CorrieRachel Corrie, 23, stands in front of a Palestinian's home to prevent it from being demolished by an Israeli bulldozer on March 16, 2003. Corrie was killed when a bulldozer ran over her.
The Corrie family says the investigation was flawed. The U.S. State Department says many questions were left unanswered.

"We tried all these other means, but at the end of the day, the only thing we can do and we can control is a civil lawsuit in Israeli courts," Craig Corrie says. "So when you look at all of the Palestinians who have been killed or injured by the Israeli military, who don't have that opportunity, then I guess we have the obligation to bring it forward."

Their lawsuit seeks symbolic damages of $1.

"I'd say with every witness there are surprises and bits of information or confirmation of things that we haven't had in this way before," Cindy Corrie says. "So to me, while we can't be at all sure what the outcome will be, I think the process has been very, very important to me personally."

No Peace Without Justice

Assuaging their grief as parents is part of the reason they are here, they say. But they have also come to care deeply about Rachel's cause.

"We've come here because of Rachel and to seek some accountability in her case," Cindy Corrie says. "But we are also very much aware of all of the cases that are not fully investigated here and that are never prosecuted in any way here, so I do feel like that is part of the reason why we're here as well."

"You have to search for justice," Craig Corrie adds. "A lot of activists will say without justice there's no peace. No matter what happens in court, we will have at least done our part to bring this forward, done our part to bring it in front of the world."

The family has spent tens of thousands of dollars of their own money and given up pretty much everything else in their lives to pursue that goal.

"It is a sacrifice both emotionally and financially to do this," Craig Corrie says, noting the cost of flying back and forth from the U.S. to Israel and the accommodation costs. In addition, the court proceedings are in Hebrew, he says, estimating that they've spent about $50,000 on translators.

Whatever the result of the trial, they say, they won't stop fighting for Rachel and what she stood for.

"I can't describe exactly what the form of it will take, but I know we are learning things that we'll be able to utilize as we move forward," Cindy Corrie says.

Craig and Cindy give us an update on the trial from Haifa, Palestine♥

  Thursday, October 21, 2010

Boycott, divestment and sanctions against israel promoted at Montreal conference

free mp3
By Mostafa Henaway

Palestine solidarity organizations from communities and movements across Quebec and elsewhere in Canada will be meeting in Montreal for a historic conference this weekend, Friday October 22 to Sunday October 24.

Carrying Forward the Moment Against Isreali Apartheid will map the future of the growing anti-Israeli apartheid movement by bringing together activists from across the country, as well as from the U.K., France, the U.S., and, most significantly, South Africa and Palestine. The intention is to assess and advance the global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of the Israeli State until there is full justice, equality, and dignity for all Palestinians.

This international campaign is based on the July 2005 call put forth by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, which demands that Israel respect the right of return for all Palestinian refugees, that Israel dismantle the wall and put an end to its colonization of East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, and that Israel grant full equality to Palestinian citizens of Israel. The aim is to assess and advance a comprehensive global campaign for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions until there is full justice, equality and dignity for all Palestinians.

The conference opens on Friday evening with a panel titled "From Sharpeville to Gaza: five years since the Palestinian call for BDS," in which the Steve Faulkner, Omar Barghouti, and Areej Ja'afari will compare the experiences of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement in South Africa and Palestine.

Steve Faulkner is a member of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), as well as the South African Municipal Workers Union which is campaigning to make every one of the 283 South African municipalities Israeli-apartheid-free zones. Omar Barghouti is one of the founders of the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the Boycott National Committee. Areej Ja'afari is the West Bank co-ordinator for the Palestine Freedom Project. A Palestinian refugee herself, Ja'afari has been working with other Palestinian refugees and women to engage in the BDS movement in the West Bank

Many different elements of this movement are going to be in attendance at this historic conference. This is a rare opportunity, and it is the first time since the BDS call more than five years ago that the different individuals, collectives, and organizations mobilizing for Palestinian justice, equality, and dignity have come together to strategize.

The different realms of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement are represented in the seven sectors of the conference, namely: cultural, academic, consumer, queer, labour, community, and government

Trade Unions that are engaged in BDS and participating in the conference include the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CCMM-CSN), a labour council that represents over 80,000 members in 12 federations and more than 600 unions from various sectors and CSN federations, including construction, education, health, and communications, and (FNEEQ) Federation Nationale des Enseignantes et des Enseignants du Quebec representing 20,000 college level teachers.

Queer activists from Queers Against Israeli Apartheid and Q-Team in Montreal are attending the conference. Artists and film makers such as John Greyson, Malcom Guy, Marie Botie, Detroit hip-hop artist Invincible, as well as other artists engaged in the cultural boycott will be participating in the cultural sector of the conference. Invincible will be performing at a Saturday night as part of Artists Against Apartheid series -- a Montreal initiative that worked on the historic letter signed by 500 artists in Montreal who support BDS.

The Academic sector will bring together faculty from across the province and country, as well as those working for academic boycott in France and England. Students from Hampshire College in the United States, as well as Carleton University in Canada will also be speaking about their divestment campaigns on campus. Within the government sector, Amir Khadir, who represents Quebec Solidaire -- a progressive Quebec political party that has adopted BDS, will speak as well.

More than 60 different organizations have endorsed this conference, such as Fédération des femmes du Québec, Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ), Canadian Arab Federation, US Palestinian Community Network, Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from within (Israel). Their participation, as well as the participation of individual speakers is evidence to the strength of the movement, and of the conference.

Hopes and aims

The conference takes place at a very contradictory moment. Canadian support for the brutal regime of apartheid in Israel is growing, and Canada has made every effort to support Israel's siege on Gaza, the 2008/2009 war on Gaza, and the war on Lebanon. Not only has the Canadian government supported these crimes, but has celebrated them. In fact ,this year, Canada bolstered its bi-lateral trade with Israel, "since the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement came into force, two-way merchandise trade has more than doubled, reaching $1.3 billion last year," stated by Peter Van Loan, Canadian Minister of International Trade.

Nonetheless, we know that there is a growing shift on the ground in support of our movement. And we hope that this conference will be a space for strategizing, co-ordinating, and consolidating the work that has been done over the course of the last five years, in order to expand the BDS movement from a place of education and support, towards one moving into action. In order to do so this, the conference hopes to facilitate a focus and intensification of our efforts on building a campaign that can truly shift public consciousness and sever the links to Israeli apartheid. Even though this movement might take years, it is such gatherings and conferences that help set the path towards eradicating Israeli apartheid and ensuring Palestinian freedom.

Those who are interested in ending Israeli apartheid, and who wish to one day see a Free Palestine, should join us this October 22-24.

Mostafa Henaway is one of the organizers of the BDS Conference in Montreal. More information on the movement can be found here.