Palestinian

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While the west continues to lecture Palestinian resisters for their ready resort to violence, more hunger-strikers approach death in Israeli prisons.

Why are these courageous people going unnoticed by the rest of the world? Why isn’t their treatment sparking international outrage or at least prompting a debate?

Father Dave

Palestinians in Hebron march in solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike

Palestinians in Hebron march in solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike (picture courtesy of the “Palestinian Solidarity Project”)

source: www.miftah.org…

When Lives Hang In The Balance

By Joharah Baker

“Silence is complicit”, read one of the signs raised by protesters in front of UN offices in Ramallah. The young men and women in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers were sending a message to the UN and to the world: your silence could kill them.

In a way, that is very true. The lives of four Palestinian hunger strikers are hanging in the balance, teetering between life and death. Two in particular – Samer Issawi and Ayman Sharawneh have crossed the 200-day mark without food. The sheer number of days is staggering, difficult for any person to wrap their heads around. And still, the world is more or less disgracefully quiet.

The Palestinians have a right to be angry. The Palestinian prisoner issue has been shuffled aside, ignored and sidelined for years now. International human rights organizations have admitted that grave violations of human rights have taken place behind Israeli bars but Israel has never been held accountable.

While tens of thousands of Palestinians have suffered in Israeli prisons over the decades since the Israeli occupation of 1967, recently, a heroic few have brought this issue back to the fore. Last year, Khader Adnan waged a 66-day hunger strike to protest Israel’s administrative detention policy, which allows Israel to imprison Palestinian political prisoners without charge for an indefinite period of time. Adnan’s strike, which ended in his eventual release and an Israeli promise not to renew his detention, encouraged others silently suffering the same fate to walk in his footsteps.

Today, Samer Issawi, on hunger strike for over 200 days, is most likely dying. Medical reports and lawyer visits tell a haunting tale of a man who has lost more than half of his body weight, is suffering from excruciating muscle and joint pains and who can no longer stand on his own. Ayman Sharawneh is also in grave medical condition, having been rushed to Israel’s Soroka Hospital after days in isolation in a Beer Sheva-area prison. Tareq Qadan and Jaafar Izzedin are also on hunger strike, weak but determined.

In a letter to his people, Samer Issawi shows that despite his weak body his is still strong-willed.

“My message is that I will continue until the end, until the last drop of water in my body, until martyrdom…I say to my people: I’m stronger than the occupation army and its racist laws. I, Samer al-Issawi, son of Jerusalem, send you my last will that, in case I fell as a martyr, you will carry my soul as a cry for all the prisoners, man and women, cry for freedom, emancipation and salvation from the nightmare of prisons and their harsh darkness.”

Samer, freed in the Shalit prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel in October 2011, was re-arrested in July 2012 on a technicality. Issawi, who was ostensibly banned from entering the Jerusalem-area town of Al Ram, was ‘caught’ there and detained for violating the terms of his release. Israeli prison authorities informed him he would have to serve out the remainder of his original sentence of 20 years. And so, he stopped eating at the beginning of last August, refusing to accept the unjustness of his situation.

It has even taken Palestinians too much time to rise up in protest. Since the prisoners began their hunger strike, there have been solidarity activities, tents and confrontations with the Israeli army in their name, but it has not been until recently that the real protests have begun. Khader Adnan declared his own hunger strike in solidarity, holed up in the Red Cross office in Ramallah and Ayman Sharawneh’s family have all stopped eating in solidarity with their son.

But, with the exception of the few and far between statements of ‘concern’ for the lives of the prisoners, the international community has said nothing. And so, coupled with their genuine concern for the lives of their brothers, husbands, sons and comrades, the Palestinians are enraged that the world would sit back and watch these good men die. Even if one of them perishes, the Palestinians will surely hold the world accountable for not stepping in and saving them.

Those who have not lived through such a struggle and under such harsh and inhumane circumstances cannot fully understand the significance of this act. These brave men are not starving to death just for their own sakes. For most, that would never be enough. But for those dedicated to the cause and to Palestine, this is the price of freedom they are willing to pay.

Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH) . She can be contacted at mid@miftah.org…

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The following article appeared today on the website of the Kuwait News Agency. Palestinian negotiators are attempting to use their enhanced status to leverage some response from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

But what sort of response can they expect when the United States holds veto power in the UNSC? It’s not as if the UN is ever going to institute a campaign of sanctions against Israel as it does with Iran. It all looks like an exercise in futility. Perhaps I’m missing something?

Father Dave 

source: http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2296363&language=en

Palestine urges UNSC to advance achievement of two-State solution this year

Palestine urges UNSC to advance achievement of two-State solution this year

UNITED NATIONS, March 4 (KUNA) — Palestine on Monday urged the Security Council to advance the achievement of the two-State solution this year and to put an end to Israel’s “war crimes, acts of State terrorism.”

Palestinian Charge d’Affaires Feda Abdulhady Nasser said in a letter to Council President Vitaly Churkin of Russia “serious efforts are required, foremost by the Security Council, to uphold the law and to hold Israel accountable for its violations.

The immediate aim must be to defuse the current volatile situation and to foster a proper environment for advancing this year the achievement of the two-State solution.” This, she added, should be based on the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid principles, the Arab Peace Initiative, and Quartet  Roadmap, “before the viability of that solution is completely destroyed by the occupying Power.”

She complained that the number of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel “regrettably continues to grow as the occupying Power has persisted with its arrest campaign, including of children and civilians partaking in protests against the occupation.” During the month of February alone, she noted, Israel arrested at least 382 Palestinians, including 10 women.

The Palestinian official also complained about the Israeli treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, which pushed thousands to go on hunger strike.

“All these illegal Israeli practices are exacerbating tensions and casting grave doubts on Israel’s claims of commitment to achieving a peace that brings an end to this grotesque military occupation and ensures justice and freedom for the Palestinian people and peace and security between Palestine and Israel,” she said.

“For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism” and systematic human rights violations being committed against the Palestinian people, she stressed, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

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Zionists are always keen to reject any suggestion that the state of Israel is practicing Apartheid. Indeed, in California it is illegal to even us the word ‘Apartheid’ in connection with the State of Israel!  Even so, it’s hard to think of anything that characterises an Apartheid regime better than a bus service restricted to one race of people!

The transport ministry claims, of course, that the intention of the new service is simply to ease congestion and that no one will be denied entry to the regular bus service on the basis of their race. Even so, according to this report from Ynet, Palestinians who choose to travel on the so-called “mixed” lines, will be asked to leave them.

Father Dave

source: www.ynetnews.com…

Ministry launches ‘Palestinians only’ buses

Transportation Ministry sets up designated bus lines for Palestinian passengers in West Bank; insists lines are for general public, but only Palestinian villages have been advised of their existence

by Itamar Fleishman

Racial segregation or transportation mitigation? The Transportation Ministry announced that starting Sunday it will begin operating designated lines for Palestinians in the West Bank.

The bus lines in question are meant, according to the ministry, to transport Palestinian workers from the West Bank to central Israel. The ministry alleges that the move is meant to ease the congestion felt on bus lines used by Jews in the same areas, but several bus drivers told Ynet that Palestinians who will choose to travel on the so-called “mixed” lines, will be asked to leave them.

While officially the new lines are considered “general bus lines,” Ynet learned Saturday that their existence has been made public only in Palestinian villages in the West Bank, via flyers in Arabic urging Palestinians to arrive at Eyal crossing and use the designated lines.

The Transportation Ministry defended the plan, saying it was the result of reports and complaints saying that the buses traveling in the area were overcrowded and rife with tensions between the Jewish and Arab passengers.

A ministry source said that many complaints expressed concern that the Palestinian passengers may pose a security risk, while other complaints said that the overcrowded buses cause the drivers to skip stations.

The ministry has also gotten reports of scuffles between Jews and Arab passengers, as well as between Palestinians and drivers who refused to allow them to board their bus.

The ministry reportedly considered several alternatives before deciding to opt for designated lines – knowing that the issue of so-called “Palestinian lines” would be highly controversial.

‘Buses meant to improve service’

Still, the ministry eventually decided to launch the lines, which will run from Eyal crossing – near the West Bank city of Qalqilya – to Israel.

Legally, however, there is no way to stop Palestinians from boarding “regular” lines: “We are not allowed to refuse service and we will not order anyone to get off the bus, but from what we were told, starting next week, there will be checks at the checkpoint, and Palestinians will be asked to board their own buses,” a driver with Afikim – the company that holds the routes franchise for the area – told Ynet.

The volatile nature of the decision was not lost on the driver: “Obviously, everyone will start screaming ‘apartheid’ and ‘racism’ now. This really doesn’t feel right, and maybe (the ministry) should find a different solution, but the situation right now is impossible.”

Another driver said that, “Driving a bus full of only Palestinians might turn out to be tricky. It could be unnerving and it might also create other problems. It could be a scary thing.”

The Judea and Samaria Police is reportedly gearing for the move as well, and will deploy additional forces in Eyal crossing to maintain public order.

Police sources said that it is highly unlikely that Palestinians would be excluded from riding on existing bus lines, adding that the forces would “Do their best to execute the ministry’s decision.”

Afikim issued a statement saying that, “This plan aims to ease travel for Palestinian passengers and offer a solution that counters pirate bus companies that charge exorbitant prices. As for any question about removing Palestinian passengers from buses – that has to be addressed by the enforcement and security bodies.”

The Transportation Ministry issued the following statement: “The new lines are not separate lines for Palestinians but rather two designated lines meant to improve the services offered to Palestinian workers who enter Israel through Eyal Crossing.

“The new lines will replace irregular, pirate lines that charge very high prices from Palestinian passengers. The new lines will reduce congestion and will benefit Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

According to the statement, “The Transportation Ministry is forbidden from preventing any passenger from boarding any line of public transportation, nor do we know of a directive to that effect. Instating these lines was done with the knowledge and complete agreement of the Palestinians.”

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Father Roy writes: Please see my highlights in the article pasted below.  Note the concluding paragraph in particular.  This incident was not reported in the US media.  It was, however, reported by an Israeli daily newspaper.   Peace, Roy

source: www.palestinemonitor.org…

Palestinian woman subject of another Jewish hate crime in Jerusalem

On Monday, February 25 a Palestinian woman was attacked by a mob of ultra-Orthodox Jewish women in broad daylight at the light rail station in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian woman was punched by one passing Jewish woman in an unprovoked attack, before the Jewish woman’s friends joined in, managing to tear off the Palestinian’s headscarf off as they rained blows on her body.

The Israeli daily newspaper Maariv reported that the light rail security guard, in addition to around 100 religious Jewish men, stood by at the Kiryat Moshe rail station watching the beating and doing nothing.

Dorit Yardan Dotan, an eyewitness who captured the assult with her camera phone, told Maariv that she was horrified by the violence and that the security guard was even smiling.

There were more than 100 Orthodox Jews including Yeshiva students who watched an Arab woman being beaten," Dotan said. "She was escorted by an elderly man before a heated argument erupted and people shouted. I couldn’t understand the motive behind that, and all of a sudden they all attacked the Arab woman beating her severely."

Hate crimes are not uncommon for Palestinians living in Jerusalem or in the ’48 territories. Ynet reported that on February 24, a Palestinian man in his 40’s who works for the Tel Aviv Municipality as a street cleaner was assaulted by 20 Jewish youth, who targeted his head.

As a result, Hassan Usruf had to undergo surgery on his jaw while suffering injuries made to his eye socket, but no arrests were made and his attackers remain unpunished.

In August 2012, dozens of Jewish teenagers beat up three Palestinian youth in Zion Square, West Jerusalem. The mob relentlessly kicked and punched the Palestinians, and shouted racist slurs and chants such as "Death to Arabs!" over and over again as more than 100 bystanders stood by watching the lynching without interfering.

One of the Palestinian youth, 17 year old Jamal Julani, was beaten unconsciousness and had to be resuscitated on site after the mob ran away. Julani had to be hospitalized, and has no recollection of the incident.

In the aftermath of the lynching, Israeli police arrested several Jewish teenagers, the youngest being 13 year old. One of the suspects, a 15 year old, defiantly told the court, "For my part he [Julani] can die. He’s an Arab."

Nimrod Aloni, the head of one of Tel Aviv’s colleges for the Institute for Educational Thought said of the mob attack, "This is directly tied to national fundamentalism that is the same as the rhetoric of neo-Nazis, Taliban, and K.K.K. This comes from an entire culture that has been escalating toward an open and blunt language based on us being the chosen people who are allowed to do whatever we like."

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Uri Avnery raises the question that’s on everybody’s lips.  Will the current turmoil in the West Bank continue to escalate? Is Netanyahu trying to foment that escalation? Is it all timed to strategically coincide with the Obama visit? These questions are difficult to answer, but, as Avnery points out, on one point we can be clear: while the Palestinian resistance is currently non-violent it cannot remain so for ever.

The First Intifada began non-violently. This is often forgotten. Ongoing imprisonments and aggression from the IDF eventually provoked a violent reaction from the Palestinians and hence the whole event is remembered as a virtual war. At the moment the Palestinian resistance is again largely made up of non-violent protests, hunger-strikes, and the world-wide BDS campaign. But continued provocations will eventually take their toll, after which the spin doctors will depict the uprising as an unprovoked explosion of Arab aggression!

Will Obama be able to leverage any positive influence in this process? It is doubtful, but while the influence of the US recedes into the background, the partisan support from the surrounding Arab nations and from the rest of the world is on the increase!

Father Dave

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

The Third Intifada?

by Uri Avnery

IS THIS the third intifada? This question was raised this week by a number of Israeli security experts. And not only by them – their Palestinian colleagues were almost as perplexed.

All over the West Bank, Palestinian youth threw stones at Israeli soldiers. All the 3500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons took part in a three-day hunger strike.

The immediate reason was the death of a young Palestinian man during interrogation by the Shin Bet. The autopsy showed no reason for the death. It was no heart attack, as first (and automatically) claimed by Israeli officials and their stooges, the so-called “military correspondents”. So was it torture, as practically all Palestinians believe?

Then there were the four prisoners on a hunger strike which has already lasted 150 days (mitigated by infusions). Since almost every Palestinian family has now – or had in the past – at least one member in prison, this generates much excitement.

So is this IT?

THE UNCERTAINTY of security officials stems from the fact that both the first and the second intifada broke out in an unexpected way. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian leaderships were taken by surprise.

The Israeli surprise was especially – well,  surprising. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip were, and still are, full of Israeli informers. Decades of occupation have allowed the Security Service to recruit thousands of them by bribery or blackmail. So how did they fail to know?

The Palestinian leadership, then in Tunis, was equally in the dark. It took Yasser Arafat several days to realize what was happening and laud the “Stone Children”.

The reason for the surprise was that both intifadas were completely spontaneous. No one planned them. Because of this, no informer could warn his handlers.

The trigger for the first one was a road accident. In December 1987, an Israeli driver killed several Palestinian workers near Gaza. All hell broke loose. The second was triggered by a deliberate Israeli provocation after the failure of the 2000 Camp David conference.

The Israeli army was quite unprepared for the First Intifada. Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin famously exclaimed “Break their bones!” which some commanders took literally and carried out faithfully. A lot of arms and legs were broken with rifle butts.

Though the second intifada was also unexpected, this time the army was prepared for any event. Troops were trained in advance. No bones were broken this time. Instead, sharpshooters were placed near unit commanding officers. When a non-violent demonstration approached, the officer pointed out the ringleader, and the sharpshooter killed him. Very soon the non-violent uprising turned into a very violent one.

I don’t know what the army plans for the third intifada. But one can be certain that even if it starts as a non-violent mass protest, it will not stay so for long.

TWO WEEKS ago, the Israeli Channel 10 showed a documentary about Ariel Sharon’s manipulation of the Second Intifada.

It started when Prime Minister Ehud Barak allowed Opposition Chief Sharon to visit the Temple Mount, accompanied by hundreds of policemen. Since Sharon was a pork-eating atheist, there was no religious motive for the visit. It was a provocation, pure and simple.

When Sharon approached the Muslim shrines, he was greeted with stones. The police killed the stone-throwers with live ammunition. And lo and behold, the Second Intifada was on the way.

Arafat in far-away Tunis had nothing to do with it. But once the intifada had started, he embraced it. The local Fatah cadres took command.

Soon after, Sharon came to power. He did everything possible to stoke the fires. In the documentary, his closest assistants were interviewed at length and disclosed that Sharon did this quite deliberately.

His aim was to cause a general uprising, in order to give him a legitimate reason for re-conquering the West Bank, after parts of it were turned over to the Palestinian authority in the Oslo agreements. And indeed, a large number of suicide attacks and other outrages provided the necessary national and international legitimization for Operation Defensive Shield, in which Israeli troops re-entered all West Bank towns and spread death and destruction. In particular, the Palestinian Authority’s offices were systematically ransacked, including the Education and Social Services ministries. Arafat was surrounded and isolated in the Ramallah Mukata’ah (“Compound”), and kept a virtual prisoners for years, till his murder.

In the film, the advisors readily admitted that Sharon did not even contemplate a political initiative to end the intifada – his sole aim was to vanquish the Palestinian resistance by brute force.  During this intifada 4944 Palestinians were killed, as against 1011 Israelis. (In the preceding intifada, 1593 Palestinians and 84 Israelis found their death.)

Israelis believe that Sharon’s brutal methods were a great success. The Second Intifada sputtered out.

WILL THERE be a Third Intifada? If so, when? Has it already begun or were the recent events only a kind of general rehearsal?

No one knows, least of all our security forces. There is no reliable information from the agents. Again, everything is spontaneous.

One thing is certain: Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s heir, is very much afraid of it. He waited for a few days, and then, once he was sure that this was not a general uprising, he ordered his American-trained police forces to intervene and put an end to the demonstrations.

More than that, he publicly condemned the outbreaks and accused Binyamin Netanyahu of deliberately fomenting them.

One of the causes for this suspicion was that on Friday the Israeli police did not prevent young Palestinians from reaching the Temple Mount (“Haram al-Sharif”), as they do frequently when there is the slightest suspicion of coming unrest.

I put the question to a circle of friends: Assuming for a moment that Abbas is right, what might have been Netanyahu’s motive?

One answered: He is afraid that Barak Obama will, in his upcoming visit to Jerusalem, demand the resumption of the “peace process”. Netanyahu will tell him that, in view of the new intifada, that is impossible.

Another volunteered: Netanyahu will tell the President that Abbas has lost his authority and therefore is not a viable partner.

Yet another: Netanyahu will tell the Israeli public that we have an emergency at hand, so we need to set up a Government of National Unity at once. All Zionist parties must be pushed by their voters to join.

And so forth.

BE THAT as it may, the pertinent question is whether a spontaneous outbreak is in the offing.

Frankly, I don’t know. I doubt if anyone does.

The absence of any genuine peace initiative makes another intifada probable at some point. How long can the harsh occupation continue without a serious challenge?

On the other hand, it does not appear that the great mass of the Palestinian people is mentally prepared for a fight. In the occupied territories, a new bourgeoisie has come to life, which has a lot to lose. Under the auspices of the US, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, has succeeded in stimulating some sort of economy, in which quite a number flourish.

The prospect of another round of violence does not appeal to these people, nor does it attract poor people, who are already fully occupied with their daily survival. To get these people to rise up, you need an extremely provocative event. This can happen tomorrow morning, or within weeks or months, or not at all.

Abbas accuses Hamas of fomenting unrest in the West Bank, which is governed by Fatah, while Hamas itself, at the same time, is keeping the cease-fire in its own dominion, the Gaza Strip. Actually, both regimes, each in its own part of Palestine, are interested in quiet while accusing the other of collaborating with the occupation.

(A century and a half ago, Karl Marx denounced the efforts of his socialist adversary, Ferdinand Lassalle, to set up workers’ cooperatives. Marx asserted that once the workers had something to lose, they would not rise up anymore. If you want a revolution, Lenin is supposed to have said, “The worse things are, the better”.)

THE MORE people on both sides talk about the Third Intifada, the less it is likely to happen. As the Germans used to say, Revolutions foretold are not going to happen.

But if there is no end to the occupation in sight, the Third Intifada will break out one day, quite suddenly, when nobody has been talking about it, when everybody on both sides was thinking about other things. 

read more wisdom from Uri Avnery on the Gush Shalom website