palestinian occupation

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The real horror of this sort of abuse is that it is just so everyday. If 14 year-old Mohammad hadn’t been an American we probably would never have heard about this incident.

Father Dave

George Bisharat

George Bisharat

source: thehill.com…

Shining a light on Israel’s military detention abuses

By George Bisharat, professor, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco

At 2 am on April 5, eight heavily armed Israeli soldiers burst into the home of Mohammad Khaleq, a 14-year-old New Orleans honors student on a family visit to Silwad in the West Bank. Jolting Mohammad and his family awake, the soldiers arrested the youth, tied his hands, and threw him roughly onto the floor of a jeep. Later, Mohammad reports, the soldiers beat him and pushed him down, damaging his orthodontic braces on a rock.

He was shackled, blindfolded, handcuffed and held for 12 hours in Ofra, an Israeli settlement, before being transported to a police station. Two hours of incommunicado interrogation later, the boy admitted to charges of throwing rocks at Israeli cars. He says he confessed after Israeli interrogators promised him that was the only way to see his father.

Mohammad was eventually released after serving 14 days and paying a fine of about $800.


 His case fits a pattern chillingly familiar to many Palestinian youngsters, and one that is increasingly condemned.

A June 2012 report authored by nine distinguished British lawyers found Israel to be violating legal obligations to Palestinian children under both the Fourth Geneva Convention and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In August 2012, an organization of Israeli soldiers called “Breaking the Silence” published testimonies by more than 30 troops describing a reign of terror against Palestinian youths, with beatings, intimidation, humiliation, verbal abuse, night-time arrests and injuries at the hands of Israeli forces. One soldier, while justifying arrests of children, marveled at a “kid who actually lay there on the ground, begging for his life, was actually nine years old… A loaded gun is pointed at him and he has to plead for mercy? This is something that scars him for life.”

Meanwhile, according to a UNICEF study published in February 2013,
“Ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.” Approximately 7,000 Palestinian juveniles, including some as young as 12, have been detained by Israeli forces in the last 10 years, and 236 are in Israeli prisons today. Many are convicted of throwing stones – an offense punishable under Israeli military law by up to 20 years imprisonment.

The military court system established by Israel soon after seizing the West Bank in 1967 was found in recent years to have a conviction rate of 99.74 percent. A special military juvenile court established in 2009 has failed to quell concerns over mistreatment of Palestinian youths. Few juveniles receive timely representation, and most admit guilt under coercive interrogation, often involving beatings or threats of sexual assault against them or other family members. Physical abuse of detainees of any age – torture – is absolutely barred under international law.

Ironically, the Jewish settlers commonly targeted by Palestinian stone-throwing youths inhabit settlements that, outside of Israel itself, are almost universally regarded as illegal. Jewish settler violence – including, per a 2013 U.N. report, 383 attacks causing injury to 169 Palestinians and damage to more than 8,000 olive trees – is rarely investigated. When charges are filed against Israelis, they are tried with the full protections of domestic Israeli law.

Sentences have often been lenient. None of this justifies Palestinian stone-throwing, which can be lethal. But a justice system that overlooks violence by Jews while crushing Palestinian defendants, including vulnerable and impressionable youths, will never command legitimacy. Instead it ensures a future generation of Palestinians who will know Israelis primarily through their cruelty.

Mohammad was atypical as a U.S. citizen caught up in Israel’s military detention grinder. Yet his case should be a wake-up call for U.S. citizens. As Israel’s principal military and diplomatic protector in the world today, we neglect our ally’s misdeeds at the peril of being tarnished by association. Abusing children is a hard one to live down.

Bisharat is a professor at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, and writes frequently on the Middle East.

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These are the sorts of incidents that are generally not considered newsworthy, yet behind each statistic are grieving families and children who are growing up in an environment of hatred towards the occupying power – a hatred that is totally understandable.

How can there ever be peace between these peoples while daily injustices like this go on?!

Father Dave

source: gulfnews.com…

EU flays Israel destroying Palestine structures

28 people, including 18 children, were displaced and 120 others affected

Occupied Jerusalem: European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah expressed serious concerns on Friday about the demolition last week of 22 structures in eight places across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The destruction displaced 28 people, including 18 children, and affected 120 other people including 57 children, a statement from EU missions in Ramallah and Jerusalem said of the actions on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Some of these structures were funded by EU member states, including France, it said.

“These and other recent demolitions appear to put an end to a period in which a welcome reduction in demolitions had been noted,” the EU said.

“Since the year 2008 more than 2,400 Palestinian houses and structures have been demolished in Area C of West Bank and [occupied] east Jerusalem, displacing more than 4,400 people.”

Places designated as Area C are under full Israeli control.

The statement said that, on May 14, 2012 they had called on Israel to meet its obligations regarding the living conditions of the Palestinian population in Area C, including halting forced transfers of people and demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure.

French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot condemned the destruction of a Palestinian Bedouin camp by the Israeli army on Tuesda in the north of the Jordan Valley.

He said the camp had been financed by France and was “clearly identifiable.”

“France has made representations to the Israeli authorities to stop the destruction of homes, the displacement and the destruction… in Area C, which are contrary to international humanitarian law,” Lalliot said.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Friday the demolition of two farm sheds and a Palestinian restaurant in Area C on April 19 and the temporary displacement of some 60 people, including 36 children, in the Jordan Valley due to Israeli military training.

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The Western media continues to portray Palestinians as bomb-carrying militants, and yet this is the essence of Palestinian resistance – marches and hunger-strikes. Certainly Israel’s so-called ‘security fence’ functions to keep the protesters out of sight of the Israeli public.

Father Dave

source: rt.com…

3,000 Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike to aid Prisoners Day protest

Thousands of Palestinian prisoners have declared a hunger strike to support Prisoners Day, an annual event dedicated to 4,713 prisoners being held in Israeli jails. Fierce rallies demanding their release have reportedly been met with tear gas.

Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza attended marches and rallies on Wednesday, urging the international community to intervene and for pressure to be put on Israel in order to release some of the Palestinian prisoners.

Nearly 600 relatives of prisoners gathered for a sit-in in the rain at Arafat Square in central Ramallah after which some of them marched towards the nearby military prison at Ofer.

As activists reached the Ofer prison perimeter they tore down 50 meters of the prison fence, mounting a Palestinian flag on prison grounds.

After around four minutes of being at the fence, Israeli soldiers showed up. They fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound bombs at the protesters,” al-Akhbar newspaper quoted spokesman of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, Abdallah Abu Rahmeh as saying.

It is necessary to pressure Israel to release the Palestinian prisoners and hunger strikers,” he added.

In Gaza, hundreds of people marched from central Gaza City to the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, AFP reported.

Another rally was being held in the northern city of Nablus.

Events to mark Prisoners Day began on Tuesday in Gaza City where youngsters released thousands of balloons into the air, each bearing the name of a prisoner.

Primarily Palestinian activists are calling for the release of those on the hunger strike that has been lasting for more than 250 days. Already dubbed one of the longest strikes in history, it stirred mass outrage and weeks of street protests.

The fates of at least five of the prisoners, including Samer Issawi, are now central to the protesters.

Samer Issawi, a 32-year-old from an Arab suburb of Jerusalem, is said to be in a critical condition with his low heart rate meaning he could die at any time.

As Israel seeks to end the Palestinian prisoner’s hunger strike, Issawi was offered to stop his fast in exchange for commuting his decades-long sentence to one year behind bars, Reuters reported Wednesday citing a Palestinian official.

We don’t want to see this man commit suicide,” an Israeli official was quoted as saying. “There are elements on the Palestinian side who are eager to exploit a tragedy.

Earlier an Israeli official said they were ready to deport Palestinian Essawi to an EU or UN country, but allege the prisoner has refused.

Issawi was initially convicted of opening fire on an Israeli bus in 2002. He was released in 2011 along with over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier held hostage by the Hamas Islamist group in Gaza.

But last July, he got re-arrested for what Israel called a violation of the terms of his release by crossing from his native East Jerusalem to the West Bank. Now he might face his original term behind bars and stay in jail until 2029. The prisoner has been struggling to regain his freedom by July this year.

Palestinian officials have called on Israel to send Issawi to Ramallah to receive a year of medical treatment after which Israel would allow him to return to neighboring Jerusalem. However, Jerusalem rejected the offer.

Rights group B’Tselem puts the number of Palestinians held by Israel at 4, 713 with most of them Palestinian men from the West Bank and Gaza convicted of participating in terror attacks. According to the group, 169 of them are held under administrative detention, without formally being charged.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society says more than 215 children and 14 women are in jail.

 

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The following press release from the ‘We Divest Coalition’ reflects how seriously many Zionists take the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) campaign.

If the recent case heard in London is anything to go by, the legal fraternity is ruling increasingly in favour of the right of individuals and companies to express their opposition to the Palestinian Occupation through this non-violent avenue, and it’s hard to imagine any court forbidding shareholders the right to vote on a matter of company policy.  Even so, the question is whether the threat of legal action will be sufficient to intimidate the company into taking the BDS proposal off the agenda.

Father Dave

Israel Law Center Threatens Suit Against TIAA-CREF
If It Doesn’t Deny Vote To Shareholders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2013

Press Contact: info@wedivest.org…

Pension fund giant TIAA-CREF is seeking permission from the Security and Exchange Commission to allow it to deny shareholders the opportunity to vote on what would be the largest Israel/Palestine referendum to date in the United States. The resolution, filed by 200 CREF shareholders, urges TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that substantially contribute to or enable egregious violations of human rights, including companies whose business supports Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.

It was recently disclosed that CREF is being threatened with a lawsuit by Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) if CREF should submit the shareholder proposal for a democratic vote. Shurat HaDin claims that the resolution violates U.S. and New York state anti-boycott laws even though these laws have no application to human rights-inspired boycotts or to divestment resolutions. These peaceful forms of political pressure, central to the U.S. civil rights movement, have long been understood to be protected by the First Amendment’s free speech provision.

Shurat HaDin is using a practice known as “lawfare.” This is a tactic of intimidation, using threats of legal action to coerce students, and now also TIAA-CREF, to refrain from using democratic processes to resolve issues. Shurat HaDin seeks to bar discussion of the serious human rights abuses associated with Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. It is deeply disappointing to see TIAA-CREF embrace that same perspective.

Steve Tamari, a Palestinian-American educator and member of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, on behalf of hundreds of CREF filers who signed onto the resolution said:
“TIAA-CREF has not only ignored our moral concerns, but now refuses to let us vote or have any voice on the issue. We are hundreds of investors who are deeply troubled that we are forced to support segregation and other abhorrent human rights violations in order to maintain our retirement accounts.”

We Divest Campaign National Coordinator Rabbi Alissa Wise said:
“As in earlier campaigns to end human rights abuses by Sudan, South Africa, and the southern U.S., shareholders should be able to vote on whether their company should be profiting from Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Commitment to such shareholder participation is assumed in a company, such as CREF, that is proud of its corporate transparency and democratic governance.”

We Divest National Coordinating Committee member, Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY said:
“This resolution is one example of dozens of such discussions taking place in conferences, corporate meetings, and on campuses around the country. The Methodists and Presbyterians have voted on resolutions similar to the one CREF shareholders filed. Student governments are taking up this question on campuses across the country. What is it that TIAA-CREF is so afraid of?”

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The following article by veteran Israeli journalist and peace activist, Amira Hass, has generated a storm of controversy. Many Israelis think that this time she has gone too far – encouraging violence, inciting murder, etc. 

Hass herself is committed to non-violence. As an Israeli though who has spent considerable time living in Gaza and West Bank, she understands the frustrations of a subjugated people, and she understands that such frustrations will inevitably bubble over, one way or another.

Father Dave

Amira Hass

Amira Hass

source: www.haaretz.com…

The inner syntax of Palestinian stone-throwing

It would make sense for Palestinian schools to give classes in resistance: how to build multiple ‘tower and stockade’ villages in Area C; how to behave when army troops enter your homes; how to identify soldiers who flung you handcuffed to the floor of the jeep, in order to submit a complaint.

Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance. Persecution of stone-throwers, including 8-year-old children, is an inseparable part − though it’s not always spelled out − of the job requirements of the foreign ruler, no less than shooting, torture, land theft, restrictions on movement, and the unequal distribution of water sources.

The violence of 19-year-old soldiers, their 45-year-old commanders, and the bureaucrats, jurists and lawyers is dictated by reality. Their job is to protect the fruits of violence instilled in foreign occupation − resources, profits, power and privileges.

Steadfastness (Sumud) and resistance against the physical, and even more so the systemic, institutionalized violence, is the core sentence in the inner syntax of Palestinians in this land. This is reflected every day, every hour, every moment, without pause. Unfortunately, this is true not only in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, but also within Israel’s recognized borders, although the violence and the resistance to it are expressed differently. But on both sides of the Green Line, the levels of distress, suffocation, bitterness, anxiety and wrath are continually on the rise, as is the astonishment at Israelis’ blindness in believing that their violence can remain in control forever.

Often hurling stones is borne of boredom, excessive hormones, mimicry, boastfulness and competition. But in the inner syntax of the relationship between the occupier and the occupied, stone-throwing is the adjective attached to the subject of “We’ve had enough of you, occupiers.”

After all, teenagers could find other ways to give vent to their hormones without risking arrests, fines, injuries and death.

Even if it is a right and duty, various forms of steadfastness and resisting the foreign regime, as well as its rules and limitations, should be taught and developed. Limitations could include the distinction between civilians and those who carry arms, between children and those in uniform, as well as the failures and narrowness of using weapons.

It would make sense for Palestinian schools to introduce basic classes in resistance: how to build multiple “tower and stockade” villages in Area C; how to behave when army troops enter your homes; comparing different struggles against colonialism in different countries; how to use a video camera to document the violence of the regime’s representatives; methods to exhaust the military system and its representatives; a weekly day of work in the lands beyond the separation barrier; how to remember identifying details of soldiers who flung you handcuffed to the floor of the jeep, in order to submit a complaint; the rights of detainees and how to insist on them in real time; how to overcome fear of interrogators; and mass efforts to realize the right of movement. Come to think of it, Palestinian adults could also make use of these lessons, perhaps in place of their drills, training in dispersing protests, and practice in spying on Facebook posts.

When high school students were drafted two years ago for the campaign of boycotting settlement products, it seemed like a move in the right direction. But it stopped there, without going further, without broadening the context. Such lessons would have been perfectly in tune with the tactics of appealing to the United Nations − civil disobedience on the ground and defiance of power in diplomacy.

So why are such classes absent from the Palestinian curriculum? Part of the explanation lies with the opposition of the donor states and Israel’s punitive measures. But it is also due to inertia, laziness, flawed reasoning, misunderstanding and the personal gains of some parts of society. In fact the rationale for the existence of the Palestinian Authority engendered one basic rule in the last two decades − adaptation to the existing situation. Thus, a contradiction and a clash have been created between the inner syntax of the Palestinian Authority and that of the Palestinian people.