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?!
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.
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.
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.
Samer Issawi (born December 16, 1979) is a Palestinian member of the group Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
On 15 April 2002, Samer was captured by the Israeli army in Ramallah during the invasion of multiple West Bank cities, dubbed by Israel “Operation Defensive Shield”. Samer was sentenced to 26 years in prison after being convicted of charges of possessing of weapons and forming military groups in Jerusalem.
Nearly 10 years later, in October 2011, Samer was released along with 1027 Palestinian prisoners as a result of an Egypt-brokered deal between Hamas and the Israeli government for the return of Gilad Shalit. However, on 7 July 2012, he was re-arrested near for violating the terms of his release. He was convicted of an 8 months sentence, which includes a possible reinstatement of his original 26 year sentence.
Issawi has been on a hunger strike since August 1, 2012
Hunger Speech by Samer Issawi
I am Samer Issawi on hunger strike for eight consecutive months, laying in one of your hospitals called Kaplan. On my body is a medical devise connected to a surveillance room operating 24 hours a day. My heartbeats are slow and quiet and may stop at any minute, and everybody, doctors, officials and intelligence officers are waiting for my setback and my loss of life.
I chose to write to you: intellectuals, writers, lawyers and journalists, associations, and civil society activists. I invite you to visit me, to see a skeleton tied to his hospital bed, and around him three exhausted jailers. Sometimes they have their appetizing food and drinks around me.
The jailers watch my suffering, my loss of weight and my gradual melting. They often look at their watches, asking themselves in surprise: how does this damaged body have an excess of time to live after its time?
I’m looking for an intellectual who is through shadowboxing, or talking to his face in mirrors. I want him to stare into my face and observe my coma, to wipe the gunpowder off his pen, and from his mind the sound of bullets, he will then see my features carved deep in his eyes, I’ll see him and he’ll sees me, I’ll see him nervous about the questions of the future, and he’ll see me, a ghost that stays with him and doesn’t leave.
You may receive instructions to write a romantic story about me, and you could do that easily after removing my humanity from me, you will watch a creature with nothing but a ribcage, breathing and choking with hunger, loosing consciousness once in a while.
And, after your cold silence, Mine will be a literary or media story that you add to your curricula, and when your students grow up they will believe that the Palestinian dies of hunger in front of Gilad’s Israeli sword, and you would then rejoice in this funerary ritual and in your cultural and moral superiority.
I am Samer Issawi the young “Arboush” man according to your military terms, the Jerusalemite, whom you arrested without charge, except for leaving Jerusalem to the suburbs of Jerusalem. I, whom will be tried twice for a charge without charge, because it is the military that rules in your country, and the intelligence apparatus that decides, and all other components of Israeli society ever have to do is sit in a trench and hide in the fort that keeps what is called a purity of identity – to avoid the explosion of my suspicious bones.
I have not heard one of you interfere to stop the loud wail of death, it’s as if everyone of you has turned into gravediggers, and everyone wears his military suit: the judge, the writer, the intellectual, the journalist, the merchant, the academic, and the poet. And I cannot believe that a whole society was turned into guards over my death and my life, or guardians over settlers who chase after my dreams and my trees.
I will die satisfied and having satisfied. I do not accept to be deported out of my homeland. I do not accept your courts and your arbitrary rule. If you had Passed over in Easter to my country and destroyed it in the name of a God of an ancient time, you will not Passover to my elegant soul which has declared disobedience. It has healed and flew and celebrated all the time that you lack. Maybe then you will understand that awareness of freedom is stronger than awareness of death.
Do not listen to those generals and those dusty myths, for the defeated will not remain defeated, and the victor will not remain a victor. History isn’t only measured by battles, massacres and prisons, but by peace with the Other and the self.
Listen to my voice, the voice of our time and yours! Liberate yourselves of the excess of greedy power! Do not remain prisoners of military camps and the iron doors that have shut your minds! I am not waiting for a jailer to release me, I’m waiting for you to be released from my memory.
Here’s a far more sober analysis of the US President’s visit to Israel/Palestine.
Sam Bahour is no fool, and neither is he a pessimist. As a Palestinian American though, he inevitably feels pain every time he hears Obama speak of the US’s unconditional support for Israel.
Why shouldn’t American support of Israel have conditions and require that certain humanitarian standards be met, as is the case with every other country on the planet? Why indeed?
Obama fails in the Mideast
As I watched President Barack Obama’s helicopter pass above my home, just before landing at the Palestinian Presidential Compound next to Ramallah, I just shook my head in disappointment, first as an American, then as a Palestinian. I thought: “Another U.S. president, on another high fanfare visit, carrying the same, failed political messages.”
It was difficult to follow Obama’s visit on TV. In normal practice when dignitaries come to town, Israel disrupts the satellite signals that feed our televisions. Nevertheless, I was able to tune in to a single Arabic channel, broadcast from Lebanon, that was unaffected by this.
Peeling away all the protocols, red carpets, formalities and artificial photo opportunities, I focused on what was coined “the policy speech.” President Obama gave it in Israel at a conference center to an audience of Israeli students. The president crafted a message directly to Israeli citizens, bypassing the right-wing Israeli prime minister who, until today, continues to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements, despite America’s and the world’s disapproval.
The message to Israel was clear: there is no better ally to Israel than the U.S. He went on and on about how Israel will always be backed by the U.S., no matter what. Militarism won the day.
To Palestinians, and the majority of the world, that message no longer makes sense. Why support Israel as a military occupier that continues to build Jewish-only settlements? Why support Israel when it (as the U.S. State Department has documented) structurally discriminates against non-Jews, both Christian and Muslim, inside Israel? Why support Israel when it refuses to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes? In short, if Israel has become a rogue state and is moving (as Israeli leaders have acknowledged) toward a form of apartheid, why should the U.S. be there to fund it, arm it, use its veto to protect it from the United Nations, diplomatically cover for it, and do business with it?
Given that Israel is costing U.S. taxpayers over $3 billion annually and has put the U.S. in a weaker position in the Middle East because of its intransigence, it is past due that every American demand of their government to withdraw its resources and political clout from entities that are moving the region away from peace, instead of closer to it.
Just before Air Force One landed at Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel, President Obama’s limousine, the armored vehicle known as “The Beast,” broke down after being wrongly filled with diesel instead of gasoline. A new one was flown in and no disruptions to the schedule occurred. Nevertheless, perhaps this limousine ordeal carried a larger message: whether “The Beast” or a global superpower, it is crucial that issues are filled with accurate and appropriate substances, otherwise, sooner rather than later, they will start with a sputter and end with a total breakdown.
The U.S. has filled the peace process, for the last 20 years, with Israeli-designed falsehoods, only to bring us to a total breakdown today. I was hoping (but not holding my breath) that President Obama would shift gears on this trip and come with a message to the Israelis that the world’s superpower is now going to fill the process with accountability. That did not happen, and will not, until average Americans say, “Enough is enough.”
Sam Bahour describes himself as a Palestinian-American business consultant from Youngstown living in Al-Bireh/Ramallah, Palestine.