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Dispatch from Palestine: A year in review

Yumna Patel (Dec.31, 2018) is a multimedia journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine. Follow her on Twitter at @yumna_patel

Looking back on this year, it is difficult to choose one moment, one tragedy, or one political decision that stands out among the rest.

Palestinians witnessed a tumultuous year in 2018, as they saw hundreds killed from the West Bank to Gaza, their rights slowly stripped away inside Israel, and the heart of Palestinian identity, Jerusalem, pushed further out of reach.

We have seen the Israeli occupation expand its reach through its growing settlement enterprise, increasing home demolitions, and extrajudicial killings of unarmed protesters, all with the full backing of the United States and relatively No accountability from the international community.

2018 marked 25 years since the Oslo Accords were signed, but a fair and just peace agreement for the Palestinians remains far out of reach — the dream of an independent Palestinian state even further.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which was supposed to be a temporary government according to the accords, has developed into a despotic regime, focused more on quashing dissent and policing free speech than achieving liberation and statehood. (Its function is plainly to distribute and allocate salaries)

2018 also marked 70 years since the Nakba, the tragedy that has shaped the Palestinian issue for generations.

But as evidenced by the ongoing fight for the rights of refugees in Gaza’s Great March of Return, the fight against expulsion in places Silwan and Khan al-Ahmar, and the fight for equal rights as citizens in Israel, the Nakba, or “catastrophe”, of the Palestinian people did not end in 1948.

The impact of Trump

President Donald Trump talks with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jared Kushner in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

It goes without saying that perhaps that most defining moment of the year actually took place in late 2017, when President Donald Trump announced that the US would be recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The decision sparked widespread protests that lead to the arrest of hundreds of Palestinians and the injury of many more.

Even after the initial protests died down, Trump’s Jerusalem decision has continued to be a feature of nearly every demonstration, big and small, across Palestine.

Over the course of the year, the Trump administration has relentlessly unleashed a series of political decisions aimed at harming the Palestinian people and forcing their leadership to the negotiating table.

From defunding UNRWA and USAID in the West Bank and Gaza, to moving the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Trump’s decisions will have a lasting political impact on the region. The human impacts have already begun to be felt.

More than 60 Palestinians were gunned down by Israeli forces on the Gaza border on May 14th when they were protesting Trump’s decision to move the embassy.

Last week, a three-year old Palestinian refugee boy died waiting for treatment in a Lebanon hospital. (He was actually treated but his case was serious) Many have attributed his death to the UNRWA financial crisis, saying that the family could not afford to pay and that the hospital delayed the treatment because they were waiting for the insurance payment from UNRWA.

As time goes on, more than 5 million Palestinian refugees will feel the effects of UNRWA’s financial crisis in the form of job cuts, reduced healthcare coverage, and the shut down of primary schools across the region.

The existence of UNRWA is truly essential to the lives of Palestine’s most vulnerable communities. Living in the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, I have witnessed my neighbors skip doctor visits and unable to purchase necessary medications due to the fact that the current health care they receive UNRWA doesn’t cover all of their needs.

If the already lacking coverage is taken away from them, it is not out of the question that many more will suffer the fate of that young boy in Lebanon.

The UN has reported that despite a rise in humanitarian needs across the occupied Palestinian territory, funding levels for humanitarian interventions declined significantly: only US$221 million had been received (from other donating governments), compared to the $540 million requested in the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan.

Gaza & The Great March of Return

Much of this year’s coverage of news in Palestine has focused on the besieged Gaza Strip, which entered its 11th year under siege in 2018.

With every passing day, the situation in Gaza grows more and more dire. People see only a few hours of electricity a day, unemployment rates are at an all time high, and hospitals are closing their doors due to lack of medications.

In 2018, the UN reported that around 1.3 million people in Gaza, or 68% of the population, were food insecure.

We have reported on a series of stories from the Gaza Strip this year, each one more distressing than the last.

We have seen children with cancer forced to travel alone to the West Bank for treatment without their parents, UNRWA employees set themselves on fire after losing their jobs, and the ever rising death toll from the Great March of Return.

On Saturday, one Palestinian was killed and six more were injured along the Israeli border fence.

UN documentation reported on December 28th that the death toll from Gaza’s Great March of Return stood at 180, and that over 23,000 people had been injured (mutilated and handicapped) in the protests. Among the dead are journalists, medics, women, and children.

This year marked the highest death toll in a single year since the Israeli offensive on Gaza in 2014, and according to UNOCHA,  the highest number of injuries recorded since the group began documenting casualties in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2005.

The Great March of Return has galvanized Palestinians from across the Gaza Strip to demand an end to the crippling Israeli siege.

The Great March of Return in Gaza, August 10, 2018 (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Despite nine months of death and injuries, and no tangible wins for the protesters, the continued participation of Gazans in the march is evidence of the growing desperation in the coastal enclave.

With nowhere to go, no future for Gaza’s young people, and no medicine for the sick, the only remaining choice for many is to try as hard as they can to tear down the walls and fences surrounding them, knowing full well that death awaits them at the borders.

Growing discontent with PA

In the PA-controlled West Bank, there is a growing sense of discontentment with the government and its leaders, who continue to prioritize their consolidation of power and resources over the rights of the people.

The state of hopelessness and frustration among Palestinian citizens is on a steady rise, with polls showing that Palestinians ranked corruption as the second largest problem they face after the economic crisis – higher than the Israeli occupation, which ranked third.

Palestinian economic and social decline has led to higher rates of poverty and unemployment, with college graduates witnessing the highest rates of joblessness.

The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), once the most important official instruments of control and accountability for the government, has been dysfunctional for the past 11 years. (And lately dismissed by Mahmoud Abbas with no date for election)

The PA’s executive authority and security apparatuses have continued to impose restrictions on media and journalists through the Cyber Crimes Law, blocking websites that publish dissenting voices, and detaining journalists and activists critical of Mahmoud Abbas and his regime.

Over the summer, PA forces violently suppressed youth-led protests that criticized the government’s policies in Gaza and its security coordination with Israel, which has been denounced as a “revolving door” policy funneling Palestinian activists from PA jails to Israeli prisons.

In the wake of a spate of attacks earlier this month allegedly orchestrated by Hamas, demonstrations erupted in support of the PA’s rival faction, and in condemnation of Israel’s punitive ongoing home demolitions, road closures, and massive arrest campaigns.

Video footage of the protests showed PA security forces using batons to beat demonstrators, many of them women.

Despite widespread public outcry and ongoing protests, the PA is moving forward with a controversial social security law which will see citizens that work in the private sector paying 7% of their monthly salaries taxes to the Palestinian Social Security Corporation (PSCC), with no clauses exempting workers who receive minimum wage.

While the law claims workers will be able to apply for a retirement pension at age 60, it stipulates that widows, orphans, and the families of Palestinians killed by Israel will not be eligible to receive benefits.

Palestinians have voiced their opposition to the law, citing concerns that if subjected to monthly deductions, workers receiving already low wages will not be able to provide for their families or pay off hefty bank loans, which many Palestinians use to purchase homes, cars, etc.

The primary opposition to the law lies in the fact that many Palestinians do not trust the government to uphold its end of the deal, and that under the Israeli occupation and an increasingly unstable PA, there’s no guarantee they would ever see the benefits of their contributions.

Business as usual for the Israeli occupation

According to UN documentation, a total of 295 Palestinians were killed and over 29,000 were injured in 2018 by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

Over 459 Palestinian structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were demolished by Israeli forces, marking a slight increase from 2017. The demolitions resulted in the displacement of 472 Palestinians, including 216 children and 127 women.

In the wake of this month’s spate of attacks on Israeli settlers and soldiers, Israel has stepped up its efforts to demolish the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out attacks on Israelis, a policy that has been widely criticized for years as collective punishment.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has doubled down on so-called “deterrence”efforts, instructing security officials to fast track punitive home demolitions, despite previous recommendations from an Israeli military committee that the practice did not deter attacks.

Last week, the Israeli Knesset passed the first reading of a bill to forcibly transfer families of Palestinians involved in attacks against Israelis, despite heavy opposition from intelligence and army officials.

If passed into law, it would see that within a week of an attack or attempted attack, the Israeli army would be permitted to expel the relatives of the Palestinian assailants from their hometowns to other areas of the West Bank.

Forcible transfer is considered a war crime under international law.

Since the election of Trump, the West Bank has witnessed a steep increase in the expansion of Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.

In the 22 months before Trump was elected, 4,476 settlement housing units were approved, according to settlement watchdog  Peace Now. But since his election, that figure has more than tripled to 13,987 housing units.

Earlier this week, Israel advanced plans for nearly 2,200 living units in 47 settlements.

Palestinians in the West Bank have also witnessed a frightening increase in settler attacks on them and their property, with settlers more emboldened than ever before.

In 2018, UNOCHA recorded 265 incidents where Israeli settlers killed or injured Palestinians or damaged their property, marking a 69 per cent increase from 2017.

One Palestinian woman, 48-year-old Aisha al-Rabi, a mother of eight, was killed in October when settlers attacked her family’s car with rocks as they were driving home in the Nablus district of the northern West Bank.

Some 7,900 trees and 540 vehicles were damaged or completely destroyed in settler attacks, the UN reported.

The Palestinians that shook 2018

Amid all the devastation of 2018, several Palestinian faces have emerged from the darkness to offer a sense of hope, inspiration, and resilience for their people.

The following men, women, and children have been iconicized through social media for their roles in combating the Israeli occupation and bringing the plight of the Palestinian people to the international stage.

Ahed Tamimi

16-year-old Ahed Tamimi in Israeli military court (Photo: Tali Shapiro/Twitter)

Ahed Tamimi was propelled on to the international stage when she was arrested by Israeli forces in December 2017 after she slapped an Israeli soldier during a raid on her hometown of Nabi Saleh.

As she severed out an 8-month sentence in Israeli prison, she shed a new light on the issue of Palestinian child prisoners and the struggles of Palestinian youth under occupation.

By the time she was released, she had reached star status in Palestine and beyond, and has remained outspoken in her criticism of the Israeli occupation, travelling the world raising awareness about the Palestinian cause.

Yasser Murtaja & Razan al-Najjar

Razan al-Najjar, photo shared by the al-Najjar family.

Yasser Murtaja, portrait from his Facebook page.

During the Great March of Return, Israeli forces shot and killed Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja and medic Razan al-Najjar, drawing outrage from the Palestinian and international community.

Their deaths highlighted Israel’s widely criticized open-fire policy along the Gaza border, and the ongoing killing of unarmed civilians.

The funerals of both Murtaja and al-Najjar drew thousands of mourners, and their status as heroes of the Great March of Return has been memorialized on Palestinian social media.

The Bedouins of Khan al-Ahmar

Ibrahim Khamees, a member of the Khan al-Ahmar village council, watches as armed Israeli forces guard a bulldozer that razed lands on Wednesday to create a pathway for Israeli forces to use in the imminent demolition of the village (Photo: Akram al-Wara)

As the battle to save their village came to a head this year, the bedouins of Khan al-Ahmarremained steadfast in their nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation’s efforts to expel them from their lands.

Through grassroots efforts, the people of Khan al-Ahmar galvanized international support for their struggle, resulting in the indefinite postponement of the village’s demolition.

Rashida Tlaib

On their way to Congress: Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib (left) of Michigan, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Omar is the first Somali-American legislator elected to office in the United States. (Photo: Twitter/Rashida Tlaib)

Democrat Rashida Tlaib of Michigan’s 13th Congressional District made headlines across the US and the world as one of the first Muslim-American women to be elected to Congress, and the first ever Palestinian-American woman to do so.

In Palestine, Tlaib’s win was a form of poetic justice: the descendant of Palestinians from a small occupied West Bank village would now be serving in one of the highest levels of US government.

Since her election, Tlaib has been outspoken in her defense of the BDS movement, and has even announced that she will be leading a delegation of her colleagues to Palestine, as an alternative to AIPAC’s annual Israel trip for new members of congress.

Looking forward

As we enter the New Year, there is little reason for optimism in Palestine.

The Israeli occupation continues to tighten its grip with the help of the US, and the prospect of any reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and free democratic elections in Palestine are virtually nonexistent.

Palestinians in the West Bank continue to see their family members cycled through the Israeli prison system, with 5,554 Palestinians in prison as of November.

The current security situation in the West Bank has created a climate in which Palestinians are scared to drive their cars between cities, fearful that a settler attack or wrong move at a checkpoint could spell their death.

In East Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees are bracing for the worst as Israel moves forward with its plans to shut down UNRWA’s operations in the city.

In Gaza, the Great March of Return pushes on into its 10th month, and an end to the Israeli and Egyptian siege is nowhere in sight.

The Trump administration continues to tout its “deal of the century,” which many Palestinians anticipate will attempt to erase any Palestinian claims to Jerusalem, and force them to once again compromise their rights for the sake of Israel and the settlers.

The political future of Palestine is as uncertain as ever, and 2019 will likely see a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation here.

This year, we have interviewed hundreds of Palestinians from the borderlines in Gaza to refugee camps of Bethlehem. Countless people have have opened up their homes to Mondoweiss, to tell us, and show us, the reality of their existence under occupation.

Time and time again, we have asked people what their message is to the world, and to the Israeli government.  And time and time again, there is one common theme to every person’s answer:  sumud, or steadfastness

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Are the Palestinian Territories Occupied?

IMEU published in July 13, 2012

June 5, 2012, marked the 45th anniversary of the start of the 1967 War, when Israel launched a surprise preemptive attack against Egypt and began its military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and Syrian Golan Heights.

Since that time, Israel has ruled over millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories by military decree, granting them no political rights while relentlessly colonizing their land.

Forty-five years on, Israel’s occupation and settlement enterprise become more entrenched by the day, leading many observers to conclude that the creation of a sovereign and territorially contiguous Palestinian state alongside Israel (i.e. the two-state solution) is no longer possible.

The following fact sheet provides an overview of 45 years of Israel’s occupation and settlement enterprise.

INDEX

SETTLEMENTS and their purposes

(Click here for 2012 UN map showing land allocated to settlements in the West Bank)
(Click here for Peace Now’s interactive “Facts on the Ground” settlement map)

Almost immediately after the 1967 War ended, Israel began to colonize the occupied territories in violation of international law, with Jewish-only “settlements.”

The settlement enterprise was established with the purpose of creating irreversible “facts on the ground,” thereby solidifying Israeli control over the occupied territories and ensuring that under any future diplomatic agreement Israel would retain possession of vast and strategically important tracts of Palestinian territory.

The settlement enterprise was also intended to ensure that a genuinely sovereign Palestinian state would never emerge in the occupied territories.

In the words of Henry Siegman, Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress from 1978 to 1994 and former Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations:

‘A vivid recollection from the time I headed the American Jewish Congress is a helicopter trip over the West Bank on which I was taken by Ariel Sharon [the former Israeli prime minister and defense minister and godfather of Israel’s settlement enterprise].

With large, worn maps in hand, he pointed out to me strategic locations of present and future settlements on east-west and north-south axes that, Sharon assured me, would rule out a future Palestinian state.’

In 2011, respected Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem noted: “The extreme change that Israel has made in the map of the West Bank prevents any real possibility to establish an independent, viable Palestinian state in the framework of exercising the right to self-determination.”

FACTS & FIGURES

‘And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem.

Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.

‘The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.’

  • As of 2012, there are more than 500,000 Israeli settlers living in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Of those, upwards of 300,000 live in the expanded boundaries of East Jerusalem. In addition, approximately 20,000 settlers live in settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
  • As of 2012 there were some 130 official settlements and more than 110 “outposts” (nascent settlements built without official government approval) in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
  • According to Human Rights Watch: “Palestinians face systematic discrimination merely because of their race, ethnicity, and national origin, depriving them of electricity, water, schools, and access to roads, while nearby Jewish settlers enjoy all of these state-provided benefits… While Israeli settlements flourish, Palestinians under Israeli control live in a time warp – not just separate, not just unequal, but sometimes even pushed off their lands and out of their homes.”
  • From 1993 to 2000, as Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) negotiated what came to be known as the Oslo Accords, the number of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), nearly doubled, from 110,900 to 190,206 according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. Accurate figures for settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, which are mostly built and expanded before 1993, are harder to find, but as of 2000 the number of settlers in East Jerusalem stands at more than 167,000 according to B’Tselem.
  • Settlements and related infrastructure (including Israeli-only roads, army bases, the separation wall, closed military zones, and checkpoints) cover approximately 42% of the West Bank.
  • In a 2012 report entitled “Torpedoing The Two State Solution,” Peace Now, the leading experts on Israel’s settlement enterprise, documented a 20% rise in construction starts in the West Bank in 2011 over the previous year.
  • Israel withdrew its soldiers and 8000 settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, however Gaza remains under Israeli occupation according to international law as Israel continues to control all entry in and out of the territory, as well as its coastline and airspace.
  • In 2004, Dov Weisglass, a top advisor to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said that the withdrawal of settlers from Gaza (the “disengagement” plan) was intended to “freeze” the peace process, by alleviating international pressure on Israel to take further action, stating,

LEGAL STATUS

  • The pre-amble of UN Security Council Resolution 242, which was passed shortly after the 1967 War, in November 1967, stresses “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.” The text of Resolution 242, which is the cornerstone of the two-state solution and international efforts to make peace in the region for more than two decades, calls for the “Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”
  • Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War states that, “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
  • The Hague Convention also forbids occupying powers from making permanent changes in the occupied territory unless it is a military necessity.
  • In its 2004 advisory opinion that deemed the wall that Israel is building in the West Bank illegal, all 15 judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) also found Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, to be in contravention of international law.
  • Successive Israeli governments have argued that settlement building does not violate international law, however a formerly classified document dated September 1967 shows that the legal counsel to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Theodor Meron, advised the government of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that “civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” Disregarding the opinion, in September 1967, Eshkol’s Labor government authorized the establishment of the first civilian settlement, Kfar Etzion, on the outskirts of Hebron in the West Bank.
  • International human rights organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch have all condemned Israel’s settlement enterprise as illegal.
  • Numerous United Nations resolutions have also affirmed that Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land in the occupied territories is a violation of international law.
  • In 1979, the Security Council passed Resolution 446, which states: “the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

US POLICY ON SETTLEMENTS

  • The official policy of the United States, in line with the rest of the international community, has always been that Israeli settlements are illegal.
  • In 1979, the State Department issued a legal opinion declaring that settlements were “inconsistent with international law.”  However, presidents from both parties have chosen to look the other way more often than not rather than confront Israel over the issue.
  • One notable exception occurred in 1991, when President George H. W. Bush threatened to withhold $10 billion in loan guarantees after Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir refused to halt settlement construction to facilitate the start of peace talks with the Palestinians. Under pressure from Congress, Bush relented and approved the guarantees on condition that only “natural growth” would be allowed, a loophole quickly exploited by the Israelis who soon began building at a faster rate than ever.
  • 2003’s Roadmap for Peace called for a freeze on all settlement construction, including so-called “natural growth” and the removal of all settler outposts.
  • Shortly after taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama began to urge Israel to stop all settlement construction as part of an effort to revive peace talks. After strenuously resisting, in November 2009 Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month partial construction “moratorium.” However, it contained so many loopholes and exceptions (it didn’t cover public infrastructure, construction that had already been approved, or settlements in occupied East Jerusalem) as to render it meaningless. When the 10 months were over, settlement construction resumed as before and a year later, in September 2011, Peace Now reported that in the intervening 12 months settlement growth doubled, more than making up for the partial slowdown.
  • In November 2010, the Obama administration attempted to lure Israel into agreeing to a three-month partial construction freeze by offering a package of incentives including 20 F-35 fighter jets worth $3 billion, a promise that the US would continue vetoing any UN Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, and a promise not ask for another freeze after the three months expired. Despite the enormous size of the offer, Netanyahu turned it down.
  • In February 2011, the Obama administration vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements as illegal, despite the fact that the resolution reflected official American policy as it has stood for the past four decades.

SETTLER VIOLENCE –

(Click here for UN map “Settler Violence Incidents in 2011”)

  • Many settlements like Yitzhar, Kiryat Arba, and Itamar, are home to heavily armed religious extremists who frequently attack Palestinians and their property, including physical assaults and murder, graffiti and arson attacks against mosques, and the destruction of olive trees and other crops.
  • In March 2012, the Guardian newspaper reported that senior European Union officials had drafted a confidential report concluding that Jewish settlers are engaged in a systematic and growing campaign of violence against Palestinians and that “settler violence enjoys the tacit support of the state of Israel.”
  • Under Israel’s occupation regime, Israeli settlers living in the West Bank are subject to the civilian laws of Israel, with the attendant legal rights and protections, while Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law, and are granted virtually no legal rights or protections.
  • According to a 2012 report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
    • The weekly average of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties and property damage increased by 32% in 2011 compared to 2010, and by over 144% compared to 2009.
    • In 2011, three Palestinians were killed and 183 injured by Israeli settlers. In addition, one Palestinian was killed, and 125 others injured, by Israeli soldiers during clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians.
    • In 2011, approximately 10,000 Palestinian-owned trees, primarily olive trees, were damaged or destroyed by Israeli settlers, significantly undermining the livelihoods of hundreds of families.
    • In 2011, 139 Palestinians were displaced due to settler attacks.
    • Over 90% of monitored complaints regarding settler violence filed by Palestinians with the Israeli police in recent years have been closed without indictment.
    • There are 80 communities with a combined population of nearly 250,000 Palestinians vulnerable to settler violence, including 76,000 who are at high-risk.
  • The most notorious instance of settler violence was carried out by an Israeli-American settler, Brooklyn-born Baruch Goldstein, who massacred 29 Palestinians as they prayed in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994. More than 100 others were wounded in the attack. In the unrest that followed, another 25 Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers. Just over a month after the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, Hamas launched its first suicide bombing against Israeli civilians.
  • In May 2012, Haaretz newspaper reported that the Israeli army was examining 15 complaints about Israeli soldiers who allegedly stood by and did nothing as Palestinians were beaten or attacked by settlers. Also in May 2012, a settler was filmed shooting a Palestinian near Nablus while Israeli soldiers stood idly by.
  • The aforementioned Haaretz article noted: “From the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000 through December 2011, [Israeli human rights organization] B’Tselem filed 57 complaints regarding IDF soldiers who allegedly did not prevent violence against Palestinians or their property. [Israeli authorities] told B’Tselem that investigations have been opened so far into only four of those cases, two of which were closed with no action against the soldiers.”
  • A 2012 UN report documented the rising use of threats, violence and intimidation by settlers to deny Palestinians access to their water resources in the West Bank. It found that Israeli settlers have been acting systematically to gain control of some 56 springs, most of which are located on private Palestinian land. The report also criticized Israeli authorities for having “systematically failed to enforce the law on those responsible for these acts and to provide Palestinians with any effective remedy.”

– ‘PRICE TAG’ ATTACKS –

  • In recent years, settlers have begun so-called “price tag” attacks against Palestinians and their property in response to Israeli government actions that displease them, such as the dismantling of settlement outposts.
  • The price tag campaign has included a string of more than a dozen arson attacks against, and desecrations of, West Bank mosques. In two cases, mosques inside of Israel’s internationally recognized borders were also torched.

EAST JERUSALEM 

(Click here for 2010 map of settlements in East Jerusalem)
(Click here for interactive “Jerusalem and its Environs” map)

– LEGAL STATUS –

  • Following the 1967 War, Israel unilaterally expanded East Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries and formally annexed it. Neither move has been recognized by the international community, including the United States.
  • Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem has been repeatedly rejected by the international community through a series of UN Security Council resolutions, including Resolutions 252267471476 and 478. Resolution 252 (1968) states that the Security Council “[c]onsiders that all…actions taken by Israel…which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannot change that status.”
  • Although Israel has attempted to make a distinction between them, according to international law, there is no legal difference between East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories. As such, Israel has no internationally recognized legal claim to any part of East Jerusalem, including the Old City and its holy sites.
  • Recently, the Israeli Supreme Court has begun recognizing as legitimate legal claims from Jews to properties in East Jerusalem that were allegedly owned by Jews prior to Israel’s creation in 1948. As a result, at least three Palestinian families and one shop owner have been evicted in recent months to make way for Jewish settlers who claimed ownership of the land pre-1948. At the same time, the Supreme Court refuses to recognize legal claims by Palestinian Arabs to properties owned in what became Israel in 1948.

 

– FACTS & FIGURES –

‘Restricted access to East Jerusalem had a negative impact on patients and medical staff trying to reach the six Palestinian hospitals there that offered specialized care unavailable in the West Bank. IDF soldiers at checkpoints subjected Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulances from the West Bank to violence and delays, or refused entry into Jerusalem even in emergency cases… The PRCS reported hundreds of violations against its teams and humanitarian services during the year. Most incidents included blocking access to those in need, preventing their transport to specialized medical centers, or maintaining delays on checkpoints for periods sometimes lasting up to two hours.’

  • Following its capture in 1967, Israel expanded the municipal boundaries of East Jerusalem, which comprised about four square miles, annexing an additional 45 square miles (more than 17,000 acres) of the occupied West Bank to the city.
  • Since 1967, Israel has expropriated approximately 5776 acres of Palestinian land in East Jerusalem.
  • Palestinian residents of Jerusalem contribute around 40% of the city’s taxes but only receive 8% of municipal spending.
  • In an attempt to separate and isolate East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied West Bank, Israel has built a ring of settlements around its outskirts. This ring has been reinforced by the wall Israel is constructing, which also separates Israeli settlements in and near East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.
  • Since 1993, Israel has prohibited non-Jerusalemite Palestinians from entering the city unless they obtain an Israeli-issued permit, which is rarely granted. As a result, over four million Palestinians are denied access to their holy places in Jerusalem, are prohibited from studying in East Jerusalem, and are denied certain medical treatments that are only available in East Jerusalem hospitals.
  • The State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2011 noted:

THE ‘JUDAIZATION’ OF EAST JERUSALEM –

Revoking residency rights and social benefits of Palestinians who stay abroad for at least seven years, or who are unable to prove that their “center of life” is in Jerusalem. Since 1967, Israel has revoked the residency rights of about 14,000 East Jerusalem Palestinians, of which more than 4,500 were revoked in 2008.The encouragement of Jewish settlement in historically Palestinian-Arab areas. While severely restricting the expansion of Palestinian residential areas and revoking Palestinian residency rights, the Israeli government, through official and unofficial organizations, encourages Jews to move to settlements in East Jerusalem.

Systematic discrimination in municipal planning and in the allocation of services and building permits. According to a 2011 report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

‘Since 1967, Israel has failed to provide Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem with the necessary planning framework to meet their basic housing and infrastructure needs. Only 13 percent of the annexed municipal area is currently zoned by the Israeli authorities for Palestinian construction, much of which is already built-up. It is only within this area that Palestinians can apply for building permits, but the number of permits granted per year to Palestinians does not begin to meet the existing demand for housing and the requirements related to formal land registration prevent many from applying. As a result, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem find themselves confronting a serious shortage in housing and other basic infrastructure. Many residents have been left with no choice other than to build structures “illegally” and therefore risk demolition and displacement.’

Demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures built without difficult to obtain permission from Israeli authorities. Since 1967, approximately 2000 Palestinian homes have been demolished in East Jerusalem. According to official Israeli statistics, from 2000 to 2008 Israel demolished more than 670 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. The number of outstanding demolition orders is estimated to be as high as 20,000.

According to Human Rights Watch’s 2012 World Report:

‘Israel usually carries out demolitions on the grounds that the structures were built without permits, but in practice such permits are almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain in Israeli-controlled areas, whereas a separate planning process available only to settlers grants new construction permits much more readily.’

  • According to the 2009 US State Department International Religious Freedom Report: “Many of the national and municipal policies in Jerusalem were designed to limit or diminish the non-Jewish population of Jerusalem.”
  • According to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem: “Since East Jerusalem was annexed in 1967, the government of Israel’s primary goal in Jerusalem has been to create a demographic and geographic situation that will thwart any future attempt to challenge Israeli sovereignty over the city. To achieve this goal, the government has been taking actions to increase the number of Jews, and reduce the number of Palestinians, living in the city.”
  • In 2010, Jerusalem city councilman Yakir Segev stated: “We will not allow residents of the eastern [occupied Palestinian] part of the city to build as much as they need… At the end of the day, however politically incorrect it may be to say, we will also look at the demographic situation in Jerusalem to make sure that in another 20 years we don’t wake up in an Arab city.”
  • Methods used by Israel as part of an effort to “Judaize” or alter the religious composition of Jerusalem by increasing the number of Jews while decreasing the number of Palestinians, include:

DENIAL OF FREEDOM OF WORSHIP

  • Since 1993, Palestinians living in the West Bank have been forbidden by Israel to enter East Jerusalem without a difficult to obtain permit. As a result, millions of Palestinian Muslims and Christians living in the West Bank and Gaza are prevented from accessing their holy sites in Jerusalem.
  • According to the 2010 State Department International Religious Freedom Report: “[Israel’s] strict closure policies and the separation barrier constructed by the Israeli government severely restricted the ability of Palestinian Muslims and Christians to reach places of worship and to practice their religious rites, particularly in Jerusalem.”
  • The same State Department report noted: “The Government of Israel’s construction of a separation barrier, begun in 2002 due to stated security concerns, has severely limited access to holy sites and seriously impeded the work of religious organizations that provide education, healthcare, and other humanitarian relief and social services to Palestinians, particularly in and around East Jerusalem.”

THE WEST BANK WALL: Wall of Shame

(Click here for 2011 UN map of the wall)

In June 2002, under the pretext of security, the Israeli government began unilaterally constructing a wall, much of it on Palestinian land inside the occupied West Bank. (Since 1994, the Gaza Strip has been surrounded by an Israeli wall that cuts off the 1.6 million Palestinians living there from the rest of the world. See section on Gaza restrictions.)

– LEGAL STATUS –

  • In July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion deeming the West Bank separation wall illegal. The court said the wall must be dismantled, and ordered Israel to compensate Palestinians harmed by its construction. It also called on third-party states to ensure Israel’s compliance with the judgment. While the ICJ’s decision was an advisory opinion, and therefore not binding on the parties, it is an authoritative statement of the status of the wall in international law.

– FACTS & FIGURES –

  • As of May 2012, more than 325 miles of the wall had already been built, at a cost of $2.6 billion (US).
  • Once completed, the full length of the wall will be between 420 and 440 miles (according to the Israeli Ministry of Defense and B’Tselem, respectively) – more than twice the length of Israel’s internationally recognized border with the West Bank.
  • Eighty-five percent of the wall will be built not along Israel’s internationally recognized pre-1967 border, but on Palestinian land inside the occupied West Bank.
  • When finished, the wall, along with the settlements, Israeli-only highways and closed military zones, are projected to cover 46% of the West Bank, effectively annexing it to Israel.
  • Critics have accused Israeli authorities of designing the wall’s route to envelop as much Palestinian land and as many Israeli settlements as possible on the western, or Israeli side, while placing as many Palestinians as possible on the eastern side. In total, about 85% of the Israeli settler population is expected to end up on the Israeli side of the wall.
  • The wall also surrounds much of occupied East Jerusalem, cutting its more than 200,000 Palestinian residents off from the rest of the occupied West Bank.
  • During construction of the wall, Israel has destroyed large amounts of Palestinian farmland and usurped water supplies, including the biggest aquifer in the West Bank.

 

RESTRICTIONS ON PALESTINIAN MOVEMENT

(Click here for 2011 UN map of barriers to movement in the West Bank)

  • At any given time, there are upwards of 500 checkpoints, roadblocks, and other barriers to Palestinian movement inside the West Bank – an area smaller than Delaware – hindering Palestinians from moving between their own towns and cities and the outside world.
  • Palestinians are prohibited from driving on the vast network of settler roads built inside the West Bank, which are restricted to Israeli citizens.
  • In addition to limiting movement of individual Palestinians, Israeli restrictions also impede the flow of commercial goods and commerce, with adverse effects on the Palestinian economy and development.
  • According to a September 2011 report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
    • 522 roadblocks and checkpoints obstruct Palestinian movement in the West Bank, compared to 503 in July 2010.
    • 200,000 people from 70 villages are forced to use detours between two to five times longer than the direct route to their closest city due to movement restrictions.
    • One or more of the main entrances are blocked to Palestinian traffic in ten out of eleven major West Bank cities.
    • 4 of the five roads into the Jordan Valley are not accessible to most Palestinian vehicles.
    • Almost 80 percent of land in the Jordan Valley is off-limits to Palestinians, with the land designated for Israeli settlements’ ‘firing zones’ and ‘nature reserves.’ (See here for 2012 UN map)
    • Palestinian access to their private land around approximately 55 Israeli settlements is highly restricted.

GAZA RESTRICTIONS ON MOVEMENT

(Click here for December 2011 Gaza access and closure map)

– SIEGE & BLOCKADE –

‘The prolonged blockade of Gaza, which had already been in place for some 18 months before the current fighting began, amounts to collective punishment of its entire population.‘The Fourth Geneva Convention specifically prohibits collective punishment. Its Article 33 provides: “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”’

‘Israel’s punitive closure of the Gaza Strip, tightened after Hamas’s takeover of Gaza in June 2007, continued to have severe humanitarian and economic consequences for the civilian population.‘Gaza’s economy grew rapidly, but the World Bank said the growth depended on international assistance. The economy had not returned to pre-closure levels; daily wages, for instance, had declined 23 percent since 2007. Israel’s near-total restrictions on exports from Gaza hindered economic recovery. Due to low per capita income, 51 percent of the population was unable to buy sufficient food, according to UN aid agencies.

‘Israel allowed imports to Gaza that amounted to around 40 percent of pre-closure levels, the UN reported. Israel continued to bar construction materials, like cement, which it said had “dual use” civilian and military applications. Israel allowed shipments of construction materials for projects operated by international organizations, but as of September Gaza still had an estimated shortage of some 250 schools and 100,000 homes.’

  • Since the early 1990s, Israel has restricted passage to and from Gaza, but in 2006, following Hamas’ victory in Palestinian elections, Israel tightened its restrictions severely and imposed a total naval blockade on the tiny coastal enclave.
  • Israel’s siege and naval blockade of Gaza are acts of collective punishment, which is illegal under international law, and is considered as such by the United Nations and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International.
  • A 2009 Amnesty International report following Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s devastating military assault on Gaza in the winter of 2008-9, stated:
  • In 2011, the UN released the so-called Palmer Report on Israel’s attack against the Freedom Flotilla in May 2010 that killed nine Turkish activists (one of them a US citizen). The report deemed Israel’s blockade legal, however it was widely considered a politicized whitewash, containing the important caveat that “its conclusions can not be considered definitive in either fact or law.”
  • Shortly after the Palmer Report was released, an independent UN panel of experts released a report concluding that Israel’s blockade of Gaza does violate international law, stating that it amounts to collective punishment in “flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law.” The International Committee of the Red Cross and a UN fact-finding mission into Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla reached the same conclusion in 2010.
  • Israeli officials have admitted that the siege is not motivated primarily by security concerns, but is part of a strategy of “economic warfare” against the people of Gaza. In 2006, senior advisor to then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Dov Weisglass, said the goal of the Gaza siege was to put the 1.6 million people of Gaza “on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”
  • Despite the fact that Israel loosened restrictions under international pressure following the assault on the Freedom Flotilla in 2010, the siege and blockade continue to strangle Gaza economically. According to a 2012 Human Rights Watch report:

‘NO-GO’ ZONES –

(Click here for UN map showing no-go zones)

  • In May 2010, Israel declared “no-go” zones within 300 meters (328 yards) from the wall that surrounds Gaza. In practice, however, the UN has concluded that the no-go zone is actually 500 meters (546 yards). Palestinians who venture into this area risk being shot by Israeli soldiers without warning. Numerous Palestinian civilians, including children and the elderly, have been wounded and killed in these areas.
  • Human rights organizations such as B’Tselem have documented dozens of cases of cases in which Israeli soldiers opened fire at people who posed no threat and were much farther than 300 meters (328 yards) from the wall – up to 1,500 meters (1640 yards) away.
  • According to UN statistics, the area of the official no-go zones, together with the area in which entry is effectively restricted due to a real risk of gunfire, covers about 39 square miles, or 17% of the total area of Gaza.
  • The no-go zones affect some 113,000 Palestinians (7.5% of Gaza’s population), causing harm to their homes, land, workplaces, and schools. Seven schools are located in these areas.

RESTRICTIONS ON FISHING –

(Click here for UN map showing nautical fishing limit)

‘In addition to the harsh restrictions on fishing, B’Tselem has documented cases in which naval forces have attacked and harassed fishermen. The documented cases include, for example, gunfire, detention, delay, and confiscation of boats and fishing equipment.‘The prohibition on entering deep waters and the danger now inherent to every excursion to sea deny fishermen access to areas abundant with fish, limiting their catches [to] small fish of poor quality. As a result, it is extremely hard to earn a living from fishing, or even cover fishing expenses. Given the lack of other sources of income in the Gaza Strip, some fishermen are left no option but to violate the prohibition and endanger their lives.

‘The fishing sector in Gaza has suffered a sharp blow. According to various estimates, the livelihood of some 3,000 families in Gaza, comprising some 19,500 people, depends directly on the fishing industry, and another 2,000 families make a living from affiliated industries, such as building and maintenance of boats and sale and maintenance of equipment. The imports also raise the cost of fish, preventing many families from obtaining an important source of protein. Because of the short supply, the price of fish has risen.’

  • In the Interim Agreement signed by Israel and the PLO as part of the Oslo Accords during the 1990s, Israel agreed to allow fishing boats from Gaza to travel some 20 nautical miles from shore, except for several buffer zones near the borders with Israel and Egypt to which they were denied entry altogether. But according to a 2011 report from B’Tselem: “In practice, however, Israel did not issue permits to all the fishermen who requested them, and allowed fishing up to a distance of 12 nautical miles.”
  • Since Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s devastating military assault on Gaza in the winter of 2008-9, the Israeli navy has reduced that limit to three nautical miles.
  • According to the aforementioned 2011 B’Tselem report:

PRISONERS

– FACTS & FIGURES –

‘Israeli military justice authorities arbitrarily detained Palestinians who advocated non-violent protest against Israeli settlements and the route of the separation barrier. In January a military appeals court increased the prison sentence of Abdallah Abu Rahme, from the village of Bil’in, to 16 months in prison on charges of inciting violence and organizing illegal demonstrations, largely on the basis of coerced statements of children.’

  • According to the Israel Prison Service, there were about 4424 Palestinian prisoners and security detainees being held in Israeli prisons as of the end of April 2012. According to prisoners’ rights organization Addameer, there were 4653 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel as of May 1, 2012.
  • Since 1967, Israel has imprisoned upwards of 700,000 Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, or about 20% of the total population of the occupied territories.
  • Those who are charged are subjected to Israeli military courts that human rights organizations have criticized for failing to meet the minimum standards required for a fair trial.
  • According to Amnesty International’s 2011 Annual Report on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories: “Palestinians in the [occupied territories] subject to Israel’s military justice system continued to face a wide range of abuses of their right to a fair trial. They are routinely interrogated without a lawyer and, although they are civilians, are tried before military not ordinary courts.”
  • According to Human Rights Watch’s 2012 World Report:

TORTURE & ABUSE –

  • Until 1999, the use of torture by Israeli military and security forces was both widespread and officially condoned under the euphemism of “moderate physical pressure.” Methods included beatings, forcing prisoners into painful physical positions for long periods of time, and sleep deprivation.
  • In 2000 it was revealed that between 1988 and 1992 Israel’s internal security force, the Shin Bet, had systematically tortured Palestinians during the first, mostly nonviolent, uprising against Israel’s occupation, using methods that went beyond what was allowable under government guidelines for “moderate physical pressure.” These methods included violent shaking, tying prisoners into painful positions for long periods, subjecting them to extreme heat or cold, and severe beatings, including kicking. At least 10 Palestinians died and hundreds of others were maimed as a result.
  • In 1999, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the use of “moderate physical pressure” was illegal, however reports of torture and abuse of Palestinian prisoners continued unabated. Amnesty International’s 2011 Annual Report on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories states:

    Consistent allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, including of children, were frequently reported. Among the most commonly cited methods were beatings, threats to the detainee or their family, sleep deprivation, and being subjected to painful stress positions for long periods. Confessions allegedly obtained under duress were accepted as evidence in Israeli military and civilian courts.”

  • Other abusive practices employed by Israel against Palestinian prisoners include the use of solitary confinement, denial of family visits, and forcing prisoners to live in unsanitary living conditions.
  • The harsh conditions endured by Palestinians in Israeli prisons prompted a series of hunger strikes, including a mass hunger strike by more than 1500 prisoners in early 2012 leading to some concessions from Israel. The concessions reportedly included an end to the use of solitary confinement as a punitive measure and allowing family visits for prisoners from Gaza.

ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION –

  • Israel uses a procedure known as administrative detention to imprison Palestinians without charge or trial for months or even years. Administrative detention orders are normally issued for six-month periods, which can be extended indefinitely.
  • Administrative detention was first instituted by the British during the Mandate era in 1945, prior to the creation of Israel.
  • There are currently as of May 29, 2012,approximately 308 Palestinians being held in administrative detention.
  • Since 1967, some 100,000 administrative detention orders have been issued by Israel.
  • Although there are none currently being held in administrative detention, Israeli authorities have in the past used the procedure against Palestinian children as well as adults.
  • Israel’s frequent use of administrative detention has been condemned by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as Israeli human rights groups like B’Tselem.
  • An end to the use of administrative detention was one of the main demands of a recent wave of hunger strikes by Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
  • In May 2012, Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch implicitly admitted that Israel uses administrative detention for reasons other than stated urgent “security” concerns, urging authorities to “use it only if there’s a need.”

CHILD PRISONERS

  • As of April 2012, there were 220 Palestinian minors in Israeli prisons.
  • Since September 2000, Israel has arrested and imprisoned more than 7000 Palestinian children.
  • Like all Palestinians from the occupied territories, Palestinian children are subject to Israeli military tribunals.
  • Palestinian minors are frequently arrested in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, taken away without their parents and harshly interrogated without a guardian or lawyer present.
  • According to a recent report by the Israeli NGO No Legal Frontiers, which followed the cases of 71 Palestinian children as they made their way through the Israeli military court system:
    • The most common offense was throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. In most cases the object was not actually thrown, did not hit a target, or cause any damage. In no case was serious harm caused.
    • In 94% of cases the children were held in pre-trial detention and not released on bail.
    • In 100% of cases, the children were convicted of an offense.
    • 87% of them were subjected to some form of physical violence while in custody.
  • Under pressure from human rights organizations and children’s rights advocates, the Israeli army announced in 2011 that it would raise the age that Palestinians are treated as adults from 16 to 18 years of age, however, critics complain that they are still subject to the same unjust and abusive treatment accorded Palestinian adults.

HOME DEMOLITIONS

‘Israel usually carries out demolitions on the grounds that the structures were built without permits, but in practice such permits are almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain in Israeli-controlled areas, whereas a separate planning process available only to settlers grants new construction permits much more readily.’

  • Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: “Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”
  • Israel has demolished approximately 27,000 Palestinian homes in the occupied territories since 1967.
  • Demolitions are carried out for three stated reasons: military purposes; “administrative” reasons (i.e. a home or structure is built without difficult to obtain permission from Israel); and to deter or punish militants and their families, a violation of provisions of international law that prohibit collective punishment.
  • According to Human Rights Watch’s 2012 World Report:
  • Since 1967, some 2,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished in occupied East Jerusalem. According to official Israeli statistics, from 2000 to 2008 Israel demolished more than 670 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. The number of outstanding demolition orders is estimated at up to 20,000.
  • Palestinians in East Jerusalem are often forced to choose between demolishing their own homes and paying for Israeli authorities to do it.

THEFT & DESTRUCTION OF NATURAL RESOURCES

After taking control of the occupied territories in 1967, Israel began to exploit their natural resources. Most critically in the semi-arid region, Israel began to exploit aquifers and other water sources.

According to international law, including Article 55 of the Hague Regulations, an occupying power is prohibited from using an occupied territory’s natural resources for its own benefit. An occupying power may only use resources in an occupied territory for military necessity or for the benefit of the occupied population. Thus, Israel’s exploitation of Palestinian resources such as water for use in Jewish settlements and inside Israel proper is a clear breach of international law, a position supported by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International.

Despite this clear prohibition, in December 2011, in response to a petition filed by Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Israeli companies could continue exploiting Palestinian resources in the occupied territories.

WATER –

‘In the Gaza Strip, 90 to 95 per cent of the water from its only water resource, the Coastal Aquifer, is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Yet, Israel does not allow the transfer of water from the Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank to Gaza.‘Stringent restrictions imposed in recent years by Israel on the entry into Gaza of material and equipment necessary for the development and repair of infrastructure have caused further deterioration of the water and sanitation situation in Gaza, which has reached [a] crisis point.’

‘According to Amnesty International, Palestinians received on average of 18.5 gallons of water per person per day, falling short of the World Health Organization’s standard of 26.5 gallons per person per day, the minimum daily amount required to maintain basic hygiene standards and food security.’

‘Between January and July, according to the UN, the Israeli military destroyed 20 water cisterns, some of which were funded by donor countries for humanitarian purposes.’

‘Palestinian residents reported that water supplies were intermittent, and settlers and their security guards denied Palestinians, including shepherds and farmers, access to the springs.’

  • While Israeli settlers water their lawns and fill swimming pools, Palestinians living nearby often cannot access an adequate amount of water for drinking, cooking, or proper hygiene.
  • In the West Bank, Israeli settlers consume on average 4.3 times the amount of water as Palestinians. In the Jordan Valley alone, some 9000 settlers in Israeli agricultural settlements use one-quarter the total amount of water consumed by the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank, some 2.5 million people.
  • A 2012 UN report documented the rising use of threats, violence and intimidation by settlers to deny Palestinians access to their water resources in the West Bank. It found that Israeli settlers have been acting systematically to gain control of some 56 springs, most of which are located on private Palestinian land. The report also criticized Israeli authorities for having “systematically failed to enforce the law on those responsible for these acts and to provide Palestinians with any effective remedy.”
  • According to a 2010 Human Rights Watch report, 60,000 Palestinians living in Area C of the West Bank (which is under full

Fraud Peace Prize denied plane entry in many European countries: Peres, ex-President of Israel

Sweden refuses Israeli president’s plane entry into its airspace

Swedish authorities refused on Sunday to allow the plane of Israeli President Shimon Peres to cross into its airspace en route to Norway, causing him to arrive late to his official reception.

When Stockholm refused the plane permission to cross, the pilots were forced into a holding pattern over the Baltic Sea for 20 minutes until they were rerouted via Denmark’s airspace.

Israel’s Haartez newspaper reported the ministry saying that Peres’s office had failed to follow the correct protocols, resulting in its intervention.

Peres’s office blamed Stockholm, while the Israeli Foreign Ministry pointed the finger at the President’s Office and the private airline company responsible for arranging the trip.

The ministry said that it should have been arranging the flight all along, but Peres’s office claimed that Sweden had approved it. The Swedish authorities said they had no knowledge of the flight.

However, Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence services verified that all permissions had been granted, but permission was later revoked for unknown reasons.

Note: The King and Queen of Sweden participated in the demonstration against Israeli slaughter in Gaza

– See more at: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/11451-sweden-refuses-israeli-presidents-plane-entry-into-its-airspace#sthash.J9W23Vl4.dpuf

Israeli leader’s visit sparks protests in Norway

Associated Press

STAVANGER, Norway (AP) — Israeli President Shimon Peres was met by political anger and protests over his country’s policies in the occupied territories during a visit to Norway Monday.

The 90-year-old Peres, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role in trying to bring Israel and the Palestinians together in Norwegian-mediated peace talks known as the Oslo Accords (an accord that Peres consistently flaunted since then), is the first Israeli head of state to visit the country.

Norway’s King Harald, who plays a ceremonial role and is not part of the government, welcomed Peres to the royal palace on Monday as police dispersed demonstrators outside. More protests were planned by 24 organizations.

“When the government invites the Israeli president on a state visit, one can only ask what signal Norway wants to send,” said Kathrine Jensen, head of the Norwegian Palestine Committee. She demanded that the Norwegian government “condemn Israeli occupation policy and their human rights abuses.

Norwegian-Israeli relations have soured over the past decade as Norway’s left-leaning governments took a critical stance against Israel.

Unlike many western countries, Norway refused to classify Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers as terrorists, and the government’s rich oil fund has divested shares in companies accused of contributing to building Israeli homes in the West Bank.

Peres, who as foreign minister shared the peace prize in 1994 with the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, appeared unfazed by the protests.

He told reporters after meeting King Harald that he enjoyed visiting Norway, which he described as “a pearl of humanity.”

Despite the recent collapse of U.S.-backed Mideast peace talks, Peres said the chance for peace has not been lost.

“Neither we nor the Palestinians have any other alternative but peace,” Norwegian broadcaster NRK quoted Peres as saying in a speech at an Oslo synagogue.

Note: Shimon Peres held government posts since 1950 and contributed in convincing the French government to built a nuclear reactor in Israel in 1965 and atomic bombs.

He was the prime minister when Israel launched the operation Grapes of Wrath on Lebanon in 1996 and bombed the UN compound in Qana where refugees flocked in.

Shimon Peres is the number one responsible for the mass humiliation and massacres of the Palestinians since the creation of the State of Israel, and yet was awarded a fraudulent Nobel Peace Prize

Status of Gaza and the expelled Palestinians living in Gaza

GAZA RESTRICTIONS ON MOVEMENT (Click here for December 2011 Gaza access and closure map) –

SIEGE and BLOCKADE

‘The prolonged blockade of Gaza, which had already been in place for some 18 months (report published in 2012 by IMU) before the current fighting began, amounts to collective punishment of its entire population.‘

The Fourth Geneva Convention specifically prohibits collective punishment. Its Article 33 provides: “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”’

‘Israel’s punitive closure of the Gaza Strip, tightened after Hamas’s takeover of Gaza in June 2007, continued to have severe humanitarian and economic consequences for the civilian population.‘Gaza’s economy grew rapidly, but the World Bank said the growth depended on international assistance.

The economy had not returned to pre-closure levels; daily wages, for instance, had declined 23% since 2007. Israel’s near-total restrictions on exports from Gaza hindered economic recovery.

Due to low per capita income, 51% of the population was unable to buy sufficient food, according to UN aid agencies. ‘Israel allowed imports to Gaza that amounted to around 40 percent of pre-closure levels, the UN reported.

Israel continued to bar construction materials, like cement, which it said had “dual use” civilian and military applications. Israel allowed shipments of construction materials for projects operated by international organizations, but as of September Gaza still had an estimated shortage of some 250 schools and 100,000 homes.’

  • Since the early 1990s, Israel has restricted passage to and from Gaza, but in 2006, following Hamas’ victory in Palestinian elections, Israel tightened its restrictions severely and imposed a total naval blockade on the tiny coastal enclave.
  • Israel’s siege and naval blockade of Gaza are acts of collective punishment, which is illegal under international law, and is considered as such by the United Nations and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International.
  • A 2009 Amnesty International report following Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s devastating military assault on Gaza in the winter of 2008-9, stated:
  • In 2011, the UN released the so-called Palmer Report on Israel’s attack against the Freedom Flotilla in May 2010 that killed nine Turkish activists (one of them a US citizen).
  • The report deemed Israel’s blockade legal, however it was widely considered a politicized whitewash, containing the important caveat that “its conclusions can not be considered definitive in either fact or law.”
  • Shortly after the Palmer Report was released, an independent UN panel of experts released a report concluding that Israel’s blockade of Gaza does violate international law, stating that it amounts to collective punishment in “flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law.” The International Committee of the Red Cross and a UN fact-finding mission into Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla reached the same conclusion in 2010.
  • Israeli officials have admitted that the siege is not motivated primarily by security concerns, but is part of a strategy of “economic warfare” against the people of Gaza. In 2006, senior advisor to then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Dov Weisglass, said the goal of the Gaza siege was to put the 1.6 million people of Gaza “on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”
  • Despite the fact that Israel loosened restrictions under international pressure following the assault on the Freedom Flotilla in 2010, the siege and blockade continue to strangle Gaza economically.
Palestinian children in Gaza dying under the bombs
  • According to a 2012 Human Rights Watch report:

– ‘NO-GO’ ZONES – (Click here for UN map showing no-go zones)

  • In May 2010, Israel declared “no-go” zones within 300 meters (328 yards) from the wall that surrounds Gaza. In practice, however, the UN has concluded that the no-go zone is actually 500 meters (546 yards). Palestinians who venture into this area risk being shot by Israeli soldiers without warning. Numerous Palestinian civilians, including children and the elderly, have been wounded and killed in these areas.
  • Human rights organizations such as B’Tselem have documented dozens of cases of cases in which Israeli soldiers opened fire at people who posed no threat and were much farther than 300 meters (328 yards) from the wall – up to 1,500 meters (1640 yards) away.
  • According to UN statistics, the area of the official no-go zones, together with the area in which entry is effectively restricted due to a real risk of gunfire, covers about 39 square miles, or 17% of the total area of Gaza.
  • The no-go zones affect some 113,000 Palestinians (7.5% of Gaza’s population), causing harm to their homes, land, workplaces, and schools. Seven schools are located in these areas.

– RESTRICTIONS ON FISHING – (Click here for UN map showing nautical fishing limit)

‘In addition to the harsh restrictions on fishing, B’Tselem has documented cases in which naval forces have attacked and harassed fishermen. The documented cases include, for example, gunfire, detention, delay, and confiscation of boats and fishing equipment.

The prohibition on entering deep waters and the danger now inherent to every excursion to sea deny fishermen access to areas abundant with fish, limiting their catches [to] small fish of poor quality. As a result, it is extremely hard to earn a living from fishing, or even cover fishing expenses.

Given the lack of other sources of income in the Gaza Strip, some fishermen are left no option but to violate the prohibition and endanger their lives. ‘The fishing sector in Gaza has suffered a sharp blow. According to various estimates, the livelihood of some 3,000 families in Gaza, comprising some 19,500 people, depends directly on the fishing industry, and another 2,000 families make a living from affiliated industries, such as building and maintenance of boats and sale and maintenance of equipment. The imports also raise the cost of fish, preventing many families from obtaining an important source of protein. Because of the short supply, the price of fish has risen.’

  • In the Interim Agreement signed by Israel and the PLO as part of the Oslo Accords during the 1990s, Israel agreed to allow fishing boats from Gaza to travel some 20 nautical miles from shore, except for several buffer zones near the borders with Israel and Egypt to which they were denied entry altogether.
  • But according to a 2011 report from B’Tselem: “In practice, however, Israel did not issue permits to all the fishermen who requested them, and allowed fishing up to a distance of 12 nautical miles.”
  • Since Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s devastating military assault on Gaza in the winter of 2008-9, the Israeli navy has reduced that limit to three nautical miles.

Slow and steady transfer policies of Palestinians in Israel: To where again?

Over the past several weeks the veil has fallen off almost completely on the firm decision of Israel to completely transfer Palestinians in the occupied territories. If you want to understand what’s really going on, here are a few things you need to read.

Stephen M. Walt published in Foreign Policy this July 12, 2012 under “What’s going on in Israel?“:

“One of the more enduring myths in the perennial debate on the Israel-Palestine conflict is the claim that:

1.  Israel has always been interested in a fair and just peace,

2. and that the only thing standing in the way of a deal is the Palestinians’ commitment to Israel’s destruction.

This notion has been endlessly recycled by Israeli diplomats and by Israel’s defenders in the United States and elsewhere.

Fair-minded analysts of the conflict have long known that this pernicious narrative was bogus. They knew that:

1.  Former Yitzhak Rabin PM (who signed the Oslo Accords) never favored creating a viable Palestinian State (indeed, he explicitly said that a future Palestinian entity would be “less than a state.”)

2. The Palestinians’ errors notwithstanding, they also understood that former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offers at Camp David in 2000 — though more generous than his predecessors’ — still fell well short of a genuine two-State deal.

But the idea that Israel sought peace above all else but lacked a genuine “partner for peace” has remained an enduring “explanation” for Oslo’s failure.

Over the past several weeks, however, the veil has fallen off almost completely. If you want to understand what’s really going on, here are a few things you need to read.

Start with Akiva Eldar’s cover article in The National Interest, entitled “Israel’s New Politics and the Fate of Palestine.” Eldar is the chief political columnist for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, and his article provides a succinct account for why the two-State vision is at best on life support and is unlikely to be resuscitated. Money quotation:

“The Palestinian leadership, as far back as 1988, made a strategic decision favoring the two-state solution, presented in the Algiers declaration of the Palestinian National Council. The Arab League, for its part, voted in favor of a peace initiative that would recognize the state of Israel and set the terms for a comprehensive Middle East settlement.

Meanwhile, various bodies of the international community reasserted partition of the land as their formal policy. But Israel, which signed the Oslo accords nearly two decades ago, has been moving in a different direction.”

Eldar goes on to describe in detail the demographic and political trends that have made the two-State solution an increasingly remote prospect, undermining Israeli democracy in the process and leading to a deepening policy of “separation.”

Eldar avoids the politically loaded term apartheid, but here is how he describes the current reality:

“To exercise control over the land without giving up its Jewish identity, Israel has embraced various policies of “separation”. Israel has separate legal systems for traditional Israeli territory and for the territory it occupies:

1. Israel divides those who reside in occupied lands based on ethnic identity;

2.  it has retained control over occupied lands but evaded responsibility for the people living there;

3. and it has created a conceptual distinction between its democratic principles and its actual practices in the occupied territories.

These separations have allowed Israel to manage the occupation for 45 years while maintaining its identity and international status. No other state in the twenty-first century has been able to get away with this, but it works for Israel, which has little incentive to change it.”

It works, of course, because the Israel lobby makes it virtually impossible for U.S. leaders to put any meaningful pressure on Israel to change its behavior, much of which is now antithetical to core American values. (This is another bogus argument: It is the US policies which encourage apartheid system in Israel…and denying a homeland for the Palestinians…since 1967)

To grasp what Eldar is talking about, check out former Netanyahu aide Michael Freund’s June 20 column from the Jerusalem Post, entitled “Kiss the Green Line Goodbye.” 

Unlike Eldar’s requiem for the end of the two-state vision, Freund’s column is a proud declaration that the settlement project has succeeded in making “greater Israel” a permanent reality.

Freund wrote:  “…The Green Line (the 1967 borders) is dead and buried. . . it is no longer of any relevance, politically or otherwise. You had better get used to Judea and Samaria because the Jewish people are here to stay.” This is not a wild-eyed assertion by some extremist settler, by the way, but a revealing glimpse at an increasingly mainstream view.

To see the on-the-ground consequences of these developments:

1. Check out Nir Hasson’s piece on how residents of East Jerusalem (illegally annexed by Israel following the 1967 war) face increasingly erratic water supplies.

2. And give a listen or a read to NPR reporter Lourdes Garcia-Navarro’s report on how home demolitions in East Jerusalem have increased dramatically over the past year, with about 1100 people — half of them children — displaced.

Israeli officials claim that this is merely an appropriate response to “illegal” construction, but as a recent U.N. report documents, over 90% of Palestinian applications for building permits are denied, even as Israel continues to build housing settlements for Jews in various east Jerusalem neighborhoods.

What is going on is slow-motion ethnic cleansing. Instead of driving Palestinians out by force — as was done in 1948 and 1967 — the goal is simply to make life increasingly untenable over time, so that they will gradually leave their ancestral homelands of their own accord.

Finally, make sure you read up on the recent Levy Commission report — excerpted here. (A good place to start is Matt Duss’s summary here.)

This commission, appointed by Netanyahu PM, has concluded that:

1.  Israel’s presence in the West Bank isn’t really an “occupation,” so the 4th Geneva Convention regarding protection of the local population doesn’t apply.

2. It sees no legal barrier to Israel transferring as many of its citizens as it wants into the territory,

3.  and it therefore recommends that the government retroactively authorize dozens of illegal settlements.

Never mind that no other country in the world — including the United States — agrees with this dubious legal interpretation, and neither does the United Nations or any other recognized juridical body outside Israel.

Needless to say, anyone who has visited the West Bank and seen the “matrix of control” imposed there will quickly understand that the Commission’s members were smoking something, and even a staunch defender of Israel like Jeffrey Goldberg had problems with the commission’s Alice-in-Wonderland line of argument.

A wide array of commentators (including the New York Times editorial board and former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer) have already denounced these claims, albeit in a typically qualified fashion. The Times’ expresses the hope that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will “drive U.S. concerns home” when she visits Israel this month. As if that’s going to do any good at this point.

The veil slipped a long time ago, and now it has been torn away almost completely. But once you grasp what’s really happening here, you have to completely rethink your views about who the real friends of Israel are and who are the ones threatening its future.

Israel’s true friends may or may not be emotionally committed to it, but they are the ones who understand that the settlement enterprise has been a disaster and that only concerted and principled action by the United States, the EU, and others can avert this future train wreck.

Israel’s true friends are the ones who understand that it is Israel’s actions in Lebanon, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Dubai, in Iran, etc. that are slowly squandering the legitimacy and support it once enjoyed, including support within the diaspora.

When Israel ends up tied with North Korea (!) in a 2012 BBC survey on which countries have the “most negative” global influence (and ahead of only Iran and Pakistan), you know there’s a problem.

Israel’s true friends are also among those who fear that Israel’s conduct and the smear tactics employed by some of its defenders have no place in American political life, and might eventually cost it the support it has long enjoyed here in the United States.

By contrast, Israel’s loudest defenders (and those in the middle who are cowed by them) are the ones whose short-sighted focus has allowed the occupation to persist and deepen over time. Their unthinking loyalty has helped squander genuine opportunities for peace, empowered extremists on both sides, and prolonged a long and bitter conflict.

The question to ask is simple: Where do they think this is headed?

And the same principle applies to American interests and U.S. policy.

Given the current “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel, America’s standing in the region and in the world is inevitably tarnished as long as Israel persists on the course described in the articles cited above.

This situation forces U.S. leaders to adopt contorted and hypocritical positions on human rights, non-proliferation, democracy promotion, and the legitimacy of military force.

It makes U.S. leaders look impotent whenever they repeatedly term Israel’s actions “regrettable” or an “obstacle to peace” but then do nothing about them.

It forces US politicians of both parties to devote an inordinate amount of attention to one small country, to the neglect of many others.

Worst of all, U.S. policy ends up undermining the reasonable people in Israel and the Arab world — including moderate Palestinians — those who are genuinely interested in a peaceful solution and to coexistence among the people of the region.

Instead, we unwittingly aid the various extremists who gain power from the prolonged stalemate and the sowing of hatred. This bipartisan practice may not be the most dysfunctional policy in the history of U.S. foreign policy, but it’s got to be damned close.

Note: And why Israel thinks that this is an ideal period to execute its long dream of vacating the “Land of Israel” from goyim?

1. Israel is spreading this bogus assumption that all the Arab people who deposed their dictator regimes will be focusing on their internal instabilities and seeking financial resources to keep the little people satisfied…As if there are no direct interrelationship between the difficulties of the Arab people and the creation of the State of Israel…

2. That as long as Saudi Arabia has classified Iran as the main enemy and care less about the Palestinian problems, then there could be no major roadblocks into vacating the land from the goyim…As if Saudi Arabia ever cared about the Palestinian problem…

3. That for the last two years, the Obama administration has relegated Palestine to the bottom of the list of Hot Issues to tend to…

4. That even if Obama is re-elected President, he will be impotent to exercise any pressures on Israel because the Senate and Congress are in the hands of the Republicans…

Palestinian Intifadas “shaking off civil disobedience movements”: 1936,1987, 2000, and 2011

I still cannot believe how this Palestinian people managed to survive as an entity after a century of continuous pogroms and programs to wipe this tenacious people out from the consciousness of world community, as a people entitled for a State and the dignity of a special community that lived for centuries in the same land of Palestine.

Starting in 1918, and for over 18 years, the British mandated power over Palestine refused to hold any election of any kinds (even local and municipal elections) for the Palestinian people.

France had already executed democratic elections for parliaments in Syria and Lebanon since 1920! Why England failed to emulate democratic processes in its mandated States? The Jews represented one tenth of the population.  The Zionist organization refused to have any sort of democratic elections in Palestine until the immigrant Jews reached a majority of the population.

In 1936, Sheikh Al Qassam was assassinated and the Palestinian civil disobedience lasted three years.

The mandated British power dispatched 100,000 soldiers to quell the uprising, using harsher new military laws, new torture techniques, new terrorist methods

All the modern Torture techniques that Nazi Germany studied and applied…

All the terrorist methods that the Zionist State retained in its laws and legal books, applied and went even further until today…

All of the movement containment methods that Israel transferred to the US domestic security forces after 9/11 attack, on the ground of fighting “terrorists” and are still applied on the protesters of Occupy Wall Street

During the WWII, the British mandate refused to enlist Palestinians in its army, but strongly encouraged the Jews in Palestine to enlist, learn how to fight, do war, learn terror tactics, and amass weapons for the next phase after the war.

In 1948, the State of Israel executed its plans and programs that it worked upon in the late 30’s, with the facilitation of the British in providing all kinds of intelligence pieces and data on the Palestinian towns and villages.

The Palestinians were forced by random violence and genocide tactics to flee, transfer, and evacuate their homes, villages and lands…Over 400,000 Palestinians fled to temporary refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria…

Temporary camps that evolved to be permanent shantytown residence for the next 60 years…

In 1973, the hideous Golda Meir PM, proclaimed: “Palestinians? There is no Palestinian people, period...”

In 1982 and 2003 Ariel Sharon committed two genocides against the Palestinian civilian refugees. In the Sabra and Shatila (Chatila) camps (Beirut), the genocides that lasted three nights and three days: 2,000 were buried hastily in dug up graveyards, less than a meter deep, and another 1,000 were carried away, never to reappear.

Solemn U.S. security guarantees for safeguarding the unarmed Palestinians in the camps were proven untrustworthy, as Ambassador Philip Habib of President Reagan acknowledged.

In 2003, The camp of Jennine in the occupied West Bank, the genocide lasted an entire week.  Over 5,000 civilians were buried in a crater larger and deeper than Ground Zero in New York.  Tanks rolled over live children, women, and elderly people…

Of the many genocides committed on Palestinians, the “advanced” democracies in Europe and the USA didn’t bat an eyelid…

Israel invaded Lebanon on June 6, 1982, put siege on West Beirut, cut off water supply, electricity, food supply… for 3 months and bombarded the city by air, sea and land.  Israel entered the Capital Beirut and forced the PLO to vacate Lebanon to Tunisia and Yemen…

Israel  carried out assassinations of the Palestinian leadership in Tunis (October 1985).

In the spring of 1987, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) met in Algeria and a significant unity in the ranks was accomplished and the decision to getting the Palestinians inside the occupied land to rise and confront their occupiers.

As the Arab Summit held in Amman (Jordan) in the fall 1987 virtually ignored the plight of the Palestinian people under occupation, the spirit of the occupied Palestinians rose to the challenge:  This spirit of determination moved on the ground, using civil disobedience, stones, rocks and bare flesh…all that they ever had…

The catalyst for the First Intifada movement started as a protest after 4 Palestinians in Gaza were killed when an Israeli truck collided with two vans carrying Palestinian workers.

On that first day, the Israeli authorities shot and killed a number of Palestinians, including an infant, Fatmeh Alqidri of Gaza City. The protests spread immediately to Nablus on the West Bank the next day, where the Israeli authorities shot and killed more unarmed Palestinians, including eighteen-year-old Ibrahim Ekeik.

Protests broke out in East Jerusalem on December 13, and by the end of the first week, a general strike had paralyzed all of the Occupied Territories. Ensuing clashes spread throughout the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza.

24 years (x) ago on December 9, 1987, what is referred to today as the first Intifada of the valiant Palestinian people against Zionist Israel and the Occupation erupted. An Intifada is a “Civil Uprising” in Arabic, literally, “shaking off” or “overturning.” The movement initially began as a protest after four Palestinians in Gaza were killed when an Israeli truck collided with two vans carrying Palestinian workers.<br /><br /><br />The protests occurred in the context of increasing violence by heavily armed settlers in the Occupied Territories against the unarmed Palestinian people, growing unemployment and rising national consciousness, and the political mobilization which had taken place in the Diaspora since the 1960s and especially since Israel’s invasion of Lebanon on June 6, 1982 with the “green light” from the United States, the massacres at the Sabra and Shatilah camps in Beirut, the attempts to assassinate the Palestinian leadership in Tunis (October 1985) and the unyielding resistance of the Lebanese people to occupation. Solemn U.S. security guarantees were proven untrustworthy by the blood of Palestinian women, children, and old men, all dead in the camps around Beirut. The spring 1987 PLO meeting in Algeria brought a notable unity to the ranks and orientation of the liberation movement, raising the spirit of all Palestinians inside and outside. The fall 1987 Arab Summit held in Amman, Jordan, within sight of the West Bank, virtually ignored the plight of the Palestinian people under occupation, thereby strengthening their determination that they must act on their own behalf and on the basis of their own forces.<br /><br /><br />On that first day, the Israeli authorities shot and killed a number of Palestinians, including an infant, Fatmeh Alqidri of Gaza City. The protests spread immediately to Nablus on the West Bank the next day, where the Israeli authorities shot and killed more unarmed Palestinians, including eighteen-year-old Ibrahim Ekeik. Protests broke out in East Jerusalem on December 13, and by the end of the first week, a general strike had paralyzed all of the Occupied Territories. Ensuing clashes spread throughout the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza.<br /><br /><br />The Intifada was a popular, national rebellion, carried by the youth (some 60 per cent of the society was under the age of 15) with the active participation of Palestinian workers and all sections of the society. Palestinians resigned from the local police forces and from the civil administration, and Palestinian shopkeepers attempted to set their own hours and prices. As their organized instrument, the Intifada gave rise to popular committees, many of them publishing their own information and news bulletins, exposing the day-to-day reality of life under occupation and carrying the communiqués of the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising — a coalition of the main political parties — with the goal to end the Israeli occupation and establish Palestinian independence.<br /><br /><br />The response of the state of Israel was characteristic of its entire policy from 1948 to date: terrorism, including closing the Palestinian universities and schools, deporting activists, scorching and destroying homes, and firing live ammunition and “rubber” bullets into crowds, especially of youth.<br /><br /><br />By July 1, 1988, the Israeli Central Command declared all the popular committees which had sprung up to be illegal. By 1989 the number of soldiers deployed by Israel to the West Bank was more than three times the number used to conquer it during the Six Day war, when vast numbers of Palestinians were driven from their homes; some four hundred thousand Palestinians were displaced, about half of them displaced for the second time. By the end of the first year of the Intifada the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces was 218. Twenty thousand were wounded, 15,000 arrested, 12,000 jailed and 34 deported under the pretext that they were “committee activists.” Nevertheless by November, 1988 the Palestine National Council adopted its Declaration of Independence and announced the establishment of the state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza, something initially recognized by 55 countries.<br /><br /><br />As other revolutionary and national liberation struggles ebbed on the world scale with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the unipolar world with the United States as the dominant superpower, the Intifada continued, a national rebellion posing the major obstacle to Washington’s designs on the Middle Eastern region and the major factor in averting an imperialist peace in the Middle East and the so-called “New Arab Order” of President George Bush I inaugurated by the Gulf War. The Palestinians were inspired by the heroic resistance of the Lebanese people to the attack on and occupation of Lebanon with U.S. backing in 1982 and the Palestinian Intifada in turn inspired the resistance of the Lebanese people to Israel’s illegal occupation of South Lebanon throughout the 1980s and 1990s. These movements frustrated attempts to redraw the geo-political map in the Arab region into an American oasis by toppling various so-called “failed” or “rogue states” which refused to acquiesce to U.S. policies or to keep silent about Israel’s brutal atrocities. Over 1,500 Palestinians died and thousands more were maimed during the first Intifada, brought to an end by the Oslo process.<br /><br /><br />The deceptive Oslo Accords of September 1993 refused to recognize the right of the Palestinians to their own sovereign state and the right of return of five million people in the Diaspora, who had been deported since 1948. Summit after summit in an eternal “peace process” of Peres/Barak and Clinton came and went, a calculated process of “no war, no peace,” aimed at intensifying the Zionist colonization program within the Occupied Territories went unopposed, taking the initiative out of the hands of the Palestinian people, liquidating this uprising and sidetracking the long-term struggle for guaranteeing the rights of the Palestinians. Israel implemented its greatest expansion of colonial settlements into Palestinian territory (doubling between 1983 and 1991) — its policies of “Transfer” and dispersal of the Palestinians.<br /><br /><br />The persistent and steadfast resistance frustrated these strategems as well. This laid bare a crisis of historic proportions for the United States and Israel. Far from surrendering their fate to the hands of such monstrous powers, the Palestinians spontaneously unleashed their second popular Intifada (also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada) in response to the calculated provocations of Ariel Sharon’s “visit” to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on September 28, 2000, with thousands of security forces armed to the teeth deployed in and around the Old City in Jerusalem. Ensuing clashes with protestors armed only with stones left in the first two days alone five Palestinians dead and over 200 injured. Sharon’s brave “visit” was the excuse to launch his terror and repressive policies on the most barbaric level ever seen. The incident sparked a widespread uprising in the Occupied Territories, inside Israel and the Arab World, anger throughout the world and brought the peace process to a halt.<br /><br /><br />From this historic date of the first Intifada on December 9, 1987, the Palestinian people gave political form and content to their more than 100-year-old struggle for self-determination and national independence for Historic Palestine, reflecting new levels of national unity not seen since the Great Revolt of the mid-1930s. The steadfastness and popularity of the resistance movements, especially in the Palestinian street which continues strongly to-date, does not conceal the truth that the second Palestinian Intifada in its fourth year is facing serious and difficult challenges. These lie from within and from without, not the least of which is to strip the initiative from its essential demand, namely full withdrawal from the Arab lands occupied in 1967, the return of Palestinian refugees and establishment of a new sovereign state in Historic Palestine.<br /><br /><br />The Palestinian Intifada and resistance is the one fortress defending the dignity, honour, culture and potential of the Palestinian and Arabic peoples. The Ottoman, the British and the American Empires and their tools all tried to subvert, humiliate and crush this fortress, be it with the olive branch of conciliation or the terror of force in the service of their inhuman interests. Thousands of men, women and children have been martyred. This fortress is part of, benefits and aids the struggle of entire humanity for their rights, their freedoms and their liberation, including the fundamental right to self-determination of the peoples and nations of the world.<br /><br /><br />Palestine , I salute you.

Stones, rocks, bare flesh…against bullets, teargas, helmets

The protests occurred in the context of increasing violence by heavily armed settlers in the Occupied Territories against the unarmed Palestinian people, growing unemployment and rising national consciousness, and the political mobilization which had taken place in the Diaspora since the 1960s, and especially since Israel’s invasion of Lebanon on June 6, 1982, entering Capital Beirut and forcing the PLO to vacate Lebanon to Tunisia and Yemen…

The Intifada was a popular, national rebellion, carried by the youth (some 60 per cent of the society was under the age of 15) with the active participation of Palestinian workers and all sections of the society.

Palestinians resigned from the local police forces and from the civil administration, and Palestinian shopkeepers attempted to set their own hours and prices.

The Intifada organized “people committees“, many of them publishing their own information and news bulletins, exposing the day-to-day reality of life under occupation and spreading the communiques of the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising — a coalition of the main political parties — with the goal to end the Israeli occupation and establish Palestinian independence.

The response of the State of Israel was characteristic of its entire policy since before it was created in 1948:  Random acts of violence, terrorism,  closing the Palestinian universities and schools, deporting activists, scorching and destroying homes, and firing live ammunition and “rubber” bullets into crowds, especially of youth.

By July 1, 1988, the Israeli Central Command declared all the Palestinian popular committees to be illegal.

In 1989, the number of soldiers deployed by Israel to the West Bank was more than 3 times the number used to conquer it during the Six Day war (1967), when vast numbers of Palestinians were driven from their homes; some four hundred thousand Palestinians were displaced, about half of them displaced for the second time.

By the end of the first year of the Intifada the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces was 218, the injured were over 20,000, over 15,000 were arrested, 12,000 jailed and 34 deported under the pretext that they were “committee activists. 

Over 1,500 Palestinians died and thousands more were maimed during the first Intifada, brought to an end by the Oslo process.

In November 1988, the Palestine National Council adopted its Declaration of Independence and announced the establishment of the State of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza, initially recognized by 55 countries.  The number of States recognizing the Palestinian State has increased to 120 today.

At the end of the first war on Iraq in 1991, the US administration realized that the Palestinian problem must reach a resolution if any kinds of stability is to be sustained in the Middle East.  President George Bush Senior inaugurated  the “New Arab Order”: A conference was held in Madrid.

The Palestinians were inspired by the heroic resistance of the Lebanese people during Lebanon invasion in 1982.  The First Palestinian Intifada in turn inspired the resistance of the Lebanese people to resume resistance against Israel’s illegal occupation of South Lebanon throughout the 1990’s.

The Oslo Accords of September 1993 refused to recognize the right of the Palestinians to their own sovereign State and the right of return of five million people in the Diaspora, who had been deported since 1948.  As Rabin PM was assassinated by one of his Jewish bodyguard, the Oslo Accord faltered and stopped.  Israel implemented its greatest expansion of colonial settlements into Palestinian territory (doubling between 1983 and 1991) — its policies of “Transfer and dispersal of the Palestinians”.

On September 28, 2000, candidate Ariel Sharon visited the Mosque, supported by thousands of security forces armed to the teeth, deployed in and around the Old City in Jerusalem.  The Palestinians spontaneously unleashed their second popular Intifada (also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada), in response to the calculated provocations of Ariel Sharon’s “visit” to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Ensuing clashes with protestors, armed only with stones, left in the first two days alone five Palestinians dead and over 200 injured. The incident sparked a widespread uprising in the Occupied Territories, inside Israel and the Arab World, anger throughout the world and brought the peace process to a halt.

The Second Intifada forced Israel to build the Wall of Shame (strongly condemned by the UN) and vacating all Jewish settlements and Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip. In 2011, even the insipid Mahmoud Abbas (President of the Palestinian Authority) gave a speech in the UN demanding the recognition of a Palestinian State.

On the first Intifada on December 9, 1987, the Palestinian people gave political form and content to their more than 100-year-old struggle for self-determination and national independence, reflecting new levels of national unity not seen since the Great Revolt of the mid-1930’s.

Palestinian resisting and steadfast people , I salute you.

Note:  Last week, Gingrich, the Republican Presidential candidate, proclaimed that there is no Palestinian people for any homeland. 

Worse, every Palestinian is necessarily a terrorist…

Is Gingrich running in the US or in Israel? Gingrich has Alzheimer disease?  The Washington Post published a piece claiming that Gingrich is technically Not off the mark!


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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