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15 mars 2017 3 15 /03 /mars /2017 06:46

Fatah spokesperson: Situation in East Jerusalem 'has become unbearable'

 
March 13, 2017 10:55 P.M. (Updated: March 13, 2017 10:57 P.M.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- In the wake of the shooting of a Palestinian by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem in the dawn hours of Monday morning, international spokesperson of the Fatah movement Ziad Khalil Abu Ziad said in a statement that “the situation in the holy city,” referring to Jerusalem, “has became unbearable.”

“There is no place left for condemning while Israeli forces continue conducting field executions against Palestinian youths in Jerusalem,” Abu Ziad said in Monday’s statement, accusing Israel of aiming to “explode the situation” in Jerusalem, which has been the site of near constant tension since a wave of unrest began in October 2015, and has left some 259 Palestinians and 40 Israelis killed.

“Israel is attempting in all ways to provoke the emotions of the Palestinian people and push them towards a new confrontation,” Abu Ziad said, noting the controversial ‘Muezzin bill,’ the “execution of Palestinian activist Basel al-Araj,” and the killing of Ibrahim Matar on Monday.

Abu Ziad rejected Israel’s version of events surrounding Matar’s death -- in which Israeli police claimed that “a terrorist” stabbed and injured two officers with knife -- saying that there is no proof that Mattar tried to attack Israeli police highlighting eyewitness accounts saying that the altercation between Matar and the police was “under control” and that Matar could have been detained without the use of lethal force.

Abu Ziad implored Palestinian youths in East Jerusalem “to be careful as they are targets of Israeli police and the Israeli right-wing.”

He also demanded that the European Union intervene in order “to witness the Israeli detentions, killings, expelling of Palestinians and to understand the real initiator of any new confrontation that might spark between Palestinians and Israelis.”

Rights groups have disputed Israel's version of events in a number of cases, denouncing what they have termed as a "shoot-to-kill" policy against Palestinians who did not constitute a threat at the time of their death, or who could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner -- amid a backdrop of impunity for Israeli forces who have committed the killings.

Israel's response to attacks have meanwhile be denounced as "collective punishment" and illegal under international law.

 
 
 
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15 mars 2017 3 15 /03 /mars /2017 02:39

Israeli forces assault Palestinians during protest over home demolitions in Israel

 
 
March 14, 2017 6:57 P.M. (Updated: March 14, 2017 6:57 P.M.)
 
 
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Palestinians in Jerusalem protested outside Israel's Ministry of Finance on Tuesday against the “Kaminitz” draft bill being considered for legislation in the Israeli Knesset -- expected to intensify Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem -- while clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli police forces.

The protest was called by the Committee of Heads of Arab Local Authorities in coordination with several other committees and organizations.

The committee said that the protesters chanted slogans condemning the demolition of Palestinian homes, while calling the Israeli government “racist.”

Israeli special forces suppressed the demonstration, while assaulting protesters when they attempted to close the street leading to the Ministry of Finance. Those assaulted by Israeli forces included Palestinian Members of Knesset Yousef Jabareen and Taleb Abu Arar -- both members of the Joint list, representing parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Knesset -- and the head of the Musawa Center Jaafar Farah.

Jabareen said that the assault "confirms the real face of the Israeli police that treats Arabs as enemies and not as citizens with equal rights.”

Jabareen also described the assault on protesters as “despicable,” adding that “it is our right to raise our voices and protest, especially when (Israeli policies) harm our basic right to shelter.” He highlighted that he would not attempt to prevent Palestinians from continuing their "popular resistance" until demolition plans in Palestinian communities are halted.

Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Ma’an that “the incident did not happen,” and that there were no reports of any demonstration held around the issue of home demolitions. However, a video was released documenting the event and the suppression by Israeli forces which included attempting to beat protesters.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Israel’s Kaminitz bill is aimed at increasing the power of “administrative entities, especially national planning entities,” in their “enforcement of planning laws,” and their handling of construction without Israeli-issued building permits.

If adopted into Israeli legislation, the bill would “increase the amount of fines and lengthen prison terms for construction offenses, as well as expand the circle of penalization for these offenses,” according to ACRI.

The committee added that the law would also enforce penalties on Palestinian local leaders if they refused to “take an effective role” in home demolitions in their communities.

While the legislation would be applied to all communities in Israel, it will have a disproportionate impact on Palestinian citizens who have faced an increase in property demolitions in recent months, due to what rights groups have attributed to discriminatory zoning policies in Israel which have excluded many Palestinian-Israeli communities, notably Bedouins, from being included in the regional and municipal development plans.

According to ACRI, since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 not a single Palestinian, or “Arab,” town or village has been built, while the area of these villages have been reduced, now making up less than 3 percent of the area in Israel.

Some 90 percent of Palestinian citizens of Israel, making up 20 percent of the general population, live in these towns and villages. The rising population in Palestinian towns coupled with the reduction of their jurisdictional area has caused a severe housing shortage in the communities, forcing many to build without permits.

ACRI has also noted that Palestinians in Israel require 13,000 new housing units a year to keep up with population rates. However, Israel has only permitted some 7,000 to be built each year.

“The significance is that each year a shortfall of 6,000 residential units is recorded, in addition to the accumulation of decades of shortages the scope of which has not yet been assessed,” the group said.

Meanwhile, ACRI referenced data from the Knesset Research and Information Center, that shows 97 percent of demolition orders in Israel between 2012 and 2014 were issued in the “Arab sector.”

Rights groups have highlighted that the bill does not address the systemic crisis of Israel’s discriminatory building policies in Palestinian communities in Israel, but rather penalizes Palestinians faced with no other option except to build illegally.

The bill would fast-track demolitions in these areas at a time when Palestinian communities have erupted into outrage since the start of the year after the demolitions in the town of Qalansawe and the deadly demolition raid in Umm al-Hiran in January.

On Sunday, dozens of Palestinian citizens of Israel protested in the town of Tayibe in central Israel against home demolitions, saying that Israel's demolition policies were aimed at displacing Palestinians from their villages.

In December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video to address settlers of the Amona outpost, assuring them that he would commit to “enforcing laws” on “illegal construction” in Israel, referring primarily to Palestinian communities.

Right groups have argued that the aim of home demolitions is to forcibly displace Palestinians from the region, regardless of their status as residents of the occupied West Bank or East Jerusalem, or as citizens of Israel -- despite the varying legal justifications used by Israel in each instance.

 
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14 mars 2017 2 14 /03 /mars /2017 08:06

Palestinian families prevent Israeli settlers from breaking into Hebron kindergarten

 
 
March 12, 2017 10:51 P.M. (Updated: March 13, 2017 11:56 A.M.)
 
 
 
 
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Palestinian families and activists prevented a number of Israeli settlers from raiding a kindergarten in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Sunday.

Youth Against Settlement (YAS) coordinator Issa Amro said that a number of settlers and their children attempted to enter a kindergarten on al-Shuhada street in Hebron’s Old City, but that Palestinian locals were able to prevent them from crossing the fence surrounding the school.

Israeli settlers in Hebron often gather in al-Shuhada street and the neighborhood of Tel Rumeida during the Jewish holiday of Purim.

The Hebron settlers chanted a number of anti-Palestinian slogans on Sunday, including some hailing Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 Palestinian Muslims in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994.

Located in the center of Hebron -- one of the largest cities in the occupied West Bank -- the Old City was divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas, known as H1 and H2, following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre.

Some 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers now live under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians.

Palestinian residents of the Old City face a large Israeli military presence on a daily basis, with at least 20 checkpoints set up at the entrances of many streets, as well as the entrance of the Ibrahimi Mosque itself.

Additionally, Palestinians are not allowed to drive on al-Shuhada street, have had their homes and shops on the street welded shut, and in some areas of the Old City, are not permitted to walk on certain roads.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers move freely on the street, drive cars, and carry machine guns.

 
 
 
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14 mars 2017 2 14 /03 /mars /2017 08:01
Publish Date: 2017/03/13
Israeli forces detain 21 Palestinians in West Bank raids
 
 
 

JERUSALEM, March 13, 2017 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Monday detained a total of 21 Palestinians, including a child, during multiple predawn raids across the West Bank, said Palestine Prisoner’s Society.

Israeli police detained at least 11 Palestinians, including a 15-year-old child, during multiple raids across East Jerusalem district.

Among the detainees was Mahmoud Mattar, whose son, Ibrahim, 25, was killed by Israeli troops after allegedly attempting to stab soldiers in the vicinity of the Lions’ Gate (Bad al-Asbat).

Meanwhile, similar raids were carried out in al-Jiftlik village, north of Jercho city in the Jordan Valley, where four Palestinians were detained from their family homes.

In the southern West Bank, forces raided Bani Naim town, east of Hebron, detaining a Palestinian man after ransacking his home.

The detainee was reportedly identified as Salim Tarayra, 48, whose son, Issa, 16, was killed by Israeli troops following an alleged stabbing attempt at the entrance of the town on September 20, 2016.

Forces also raided Beit Ummar town, north of the Hebron, detaining a Palestinian young man.

Muhammad Awad, a local activist who monitors settlement activities, said this brought the total number of Palestinians who have been detained from the town since the start of 2017 to 38.

Another Palestinian was detained during a separate raid across Hebron district.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian was detained from al-Jalazun refugee camp, north of Ramallah, in the central West Bank.

In the northern West Bank, troops handcuffed and detained a Palestinian after breaking into his home in Qabatia town, south of Jenin. The detainee reportedly works as a Civil Defense officer.

A similar overnight raid was conducted into Tulkarem city, where a Palestinian was detained.

K.F.

 

http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=JXexoma58159722324aJXexom

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14 mars 2017 2 14 /03 /mars /2017 07:56

Getting Off Scot-Free: Israel’s Refusal to Compensate Palestinians for Damages Caused by Its Security Forces

 
 
 

Getting Off Scot-Free: Israel’s Refusal to Compensate Palestinians for Damages Caused by Its Security Forces

 

 

Summary, March 2017

From September 2000 – when the second intifada broke out – through February 2017, Israeli security forces killed 4,868 Palestinians who were not taking part in hostilities. About a third of them (1,793) were under the age of 18.

 
Faced with this reality, Israel guaranteed itself a nearly blanket exemption from the obligation to pay compensation for all this harm. The state does not offer Palestinians harmed by its security forces a genuine opportunity to file for damages in Israeli courts, offering them no more than the illusion of being able to do so. By broadening the legal definition of what constitutes “warfare activity” and inclusive construal of this term by the courts, on the one hand, and introducing a series of procedural and evidentiary restrictions in legislation and case law, on the other, Israel has rendered virtually nonexistent the chances of Palestinian plaintiffs getting compensation for the harm they suffered.

 

Paying compensation to persons who have suffered injury to themselves or their property is not an act of charity – it is the state’s obligation under international law. Not compensating Palestinian victims severely infringes upon their human rights as they are denied redress for violation of the basic rights to life, physical integrity and property. Denying the right to receive compensation is tantamount to a violation of the right in itself: the significance of human rights is not limited to merely having them entrenched in some law or international covenant. If no sanctions are enforced when human rights are breached, the rights become moot and the perpetrators have no incentive to institute a change in policy.

 

Background

The law stipulates that the state is liable for damages that are a result of negligence, but it exempts the state from paying compensation for acts performed during “warfare activity”. This exemption is based on the assumption that warfare entails risk and damages that are substantially different than those of everyday circumstances. As combat necessarily involves pressure and uncertainty, tort law is not suited to incidents that take place during war.

In the 1990s, during the first intifada and in its aftermath, residents of the Occupied Territories filed thousands of suits with Israeli courts, seeking compensation for damages caused them by Israeli security forces in circumstances that were not “warfare activity”. The complaints addressed damage resulting from a variety of sources, such as instances of unlawful gunfire (including those involving fatalities or injuries), destruction of property, extreme violence, torture during interrogations by the Israel Security Agency (ISA), and incidents in which ammunition or duds left behind in the field by the military later exploded. Suing for damages was a costly process for Palestinians, dragged out for many years and imposed a series of bureaucratic hurdles. As a result, Palestinians often chose to settle for lower sums that did not reflect the extent of harm they suffered.

In the mid-1990s, to avoid paying even these sums of money, the State of Israel began employing various measures to broaden the exemption from liability for damage its security forces caused Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. These efforts were stepped up after the second intifada broke out in 2000. Over the years, the Knesset amended legislation several times; and, on their own initiative, the courts broadened the state’s exemption from paying compensation. These changes almost completely eliminated the possibility of Palestinians receiving compensation for injury caused them by Israeli security forces, even in incidents entirely unrelated to combat, such as clear-cut policing activities, instances of looting or physical violence.

The state’s justifications for the exemption – refuted

The state cited three major justifications for its refusal to pay compensation to Palestinians harmed by Israeli security forces: that the immunity from liability for “warfare activity” as provided by law and implemented by the courts is too narrow and does not take into account the nature of the first and second intifadas, and that as a result the state was obliged to pay compensation in cases which did not merit doing so; that it cannot fact-check the claims made by Palestinian plaintiffs and, in some cases, has absolutely no way to mount a defense; and that it is customary in armed conflict for “each party to assume the damage it incurs”; accordingly, the Palestinian Authority, like any other state, must shoulder the payment for damages sustained by Palestinians.

 

These arguments are unfounded. First, the exemption in law regarding “warfare activity” had been broadened over the years by the courts, even before legislative amendments were completed. Gradually, judges included more and more types of incidents under this definition, and in some instances chose in advance not to examine the circumstances in which the incident took place, not even the question of whether the soldiers were indeed in physical or mortal danger. Moreover, a good part of the actions of Israel’s security forces in the Occupied Territories has been – including during the first and second intifadas – straightforward policing activity such as staffing checkpoints, making arrests, imposing and enforcing curfews, and dispersing demonstrations. Many Palestinians have been injured in the course of such activities, which are not combat actions. Therefore, there is no justification for exempting the state from paying damages for harm sustained during these activities.

Secondly, while some of the amendments enacted over the years and some of the court rulings were meant, ostensibly, to resolve the difficulties cited by the state, the state continued to refer to the same difficulties even after these amendments were enacted. Yet the main flaw in this argument is that it contradicts the position stated explicitly in other contexts, namely that Israel in fact diligently and successfully carries out effective criminal investigations in similar incidents in which soldiers are suspected of acting in contravention of the law. This is the state’s position notwithstanding that criminal investigations are far more complicated than the process of establishing facts in torts and that the criminal burden of proof is much higher. With regard to these investigations, the state boasts that is has managed to overcome those very difficulties. B’Tselem does not agree that such investigations are in fact conducted, yet it underscores the extent to which the state’s arguments are self-serving. When Israel feels it to be in its best interests, it boasts of having an efficient military law enforcement system with effective investigative abilities for handling cases in which Palestinians were harmed by security forces in the Occupied Territories. Yet, when it finds it expedient, the state argues it cannot carry out this self-same task.

Thirdly, Palestinians cannot be considered citizens of another state capable of compensating them and agreeing upon reparations with Israel. The situation at hand is not that of two equal parties at war, but rather a state of occupation. Even after the Oslo Accords Israel remains the occupying power in the West Bank. Consequently, Palestinians who live in the West Bank – including in East Jerusalem, which Israel officially annexed – are considered protected persons. Similarly, Israel still controls many aspects of daily life in the Gaza Strip even after the disengagement, and repeatedly wages military operations there. In view of these circumstances, Israel cannot reassign responsibility for the injuries it causes and act as though the Palestinian Authority were a sovereign state. The powers Israel handed over to the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords are very limited; any decision by the Palestinian Authority – even on trivial matters – require tacit or explicit Israeli consent. Once again, this is a case of the state picking and choosing arguments to suit its purposes. Israel is well aware of the reality of occupation which it created and continues to maintain; as a rule, this reality is in keeping with state interests. However, to justify evading payment of compensation, the state is willing to change its tune and declare the Palestinian Authority has state-like status – all the while changing nothing in its actual treatment of the Palestinian Authority or its residents.

The implications of denying compensation

Israel’s policy on paying compensation to Palestinians who suffered harm reflects its profound contempt for the life, safety and property of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The state has also made it clear that, for its part, it bears no responsibility for the consequences of its control over the Palestinian population, both as the occupying power in the West Bank and as an external entity exerting control over the Gaza Strip. Israel’s powers as ruler, which it is quick to enforce when this serves its own purposes, vanish into thin air when it faces accountability for its actions.

The effects of the changes in legislation and in case law are evident in the figures the Ministry of Defense provided B’Tselem concerning compensation suits filed against the state by Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. The figures indicate two clear trends: First, fewer new claims are being filed with the courts. For example, 2002 to 2006 saw an annual average of 300 new lawsuits. In contrast, 2012 to 2016 saw an annual average of 18 claims – a mere 6% of the average a decade earlier.

The second trend is of Israel paying less compensation to Palestinians. From 1997 to 2001, the state paid an annual average of 21.6 million shekels (approx. USD 5.7 million) – in settlements or purusant to a court verdict. In contrast, from 2012 to 2016, Israel paid an average of about 3.8 million shekels (approx. USD 1 million) – a decline of more than 80% in comparison to the sums paid a decade earlier. The reduction in amounts paid to residents of Gaza during those periods is especially significant – from an average of 8.7 million shekels (approx. USD 2.3 million) a year to an average of about 280,000 shekels (approx. USD 74,000) a year, nearly 97% less. (In comparison, compensation for West Bank claimants dropped from an average of about 12.7 million shekels (approx. USD 3.3 million) to an average of about 3.5 million shekels (approx. USD 900,000) a year – approximately 72% less.)

The state has attempted to play down the significance of these undeniable figures which demonstrate the impact the amendments to Israel’s Torts Law have had, even taking into account fewer casualties and less damage once the second intifada was over. In its response to a High Court petition against one of the amendments, the state argued that the limits placed on Palestinians’ ability to get compensation for harm they sustained does not inhibit critique and review of the actions of the security forces, which are still available via criminal and administrative proceedings.

Yet these other proceedings that the state boasts of quite simply do not exist. In terms of criminal proceedings, in the vast majority of cases, no one is held accountable when the human rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are violated. Government officials are shielded from responsibility a priori, with no state body supervising their actions. The military law enforcement system, which is in charge of criminal and disciplinary proceedings within the military, functions as a whitewashing mechanism. The vast majority of cases it handles – most of which, to begin with, address only the liability of lower ranking soldiers in the field and minor offenses – are closed without filing charges or any other measures taken.

This outcome is no accident; it is the direct result of the way in which the military law enforcement system operates. MPIU (Military Police Investigation Unit) investigations are sloppy, with no real attempt made to get at the truth and almost always without gathering evidence – other than statements from soldiers, and in some cases also from Palestinians. In many cases, statements are given months after the incident, and investigators do not bother to resolve contradicting accounts or press the witnesses, who are usually soldiers implicated in the incident. The MAG (Military Advocate General) Corps orders many cases closed on grounds of “absence of guilt”, almost always adopting the soldiers’ version of events. Many other cases are closed on grounds of “lack of evidence”, based on the partial MPIU investigation carried out under MAG Corps’ supervision.

Administrative review of the Israeli authorities’ actions in the Occupied Territories is primarily in the hands of Israel’s Supreme Court. However, scant comfort can be found in the judgments handed down by its justices. While the High Court of Justice has allowed residents of the Occupied Territories to file petitions against state authorities, the vast majority of these petitions has been denied. Over the years, the High Court has sanctioned almost every human rights violation that the state wished to carry out in the Occupied Territories: punitive home demolition, administrative detention, restricting freedom of movement, expelling Palestinians from the West Bank, building the Separation Barrier, imposing a blockade on Gaza, taking over land, removing entire communities from their land, separating families – to name but a few.

 

This reality enables Israel to exercise its powers in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, and there is no authority in place to hold it accountable for its actions: The military law enforcement system whitewashes offenses, the High Court gives a legal seal of approval for violating Palestinians’ human rights, and the state has guaranteed itself an all but absolute exemption from paying compensation to Palestinians injured by its security forces. In the absence of mechanisms that act to deter and regulate the state, the road to harsh violations of human rights lies wide open.

One of the justifications Israel cites for refusing to pay damages to Palestinians is that it is a matter that should be resolved as part of mutual arrangements to be reached once the conflict is ended. This argument offers no more than bitter irony. It might have been valid had the situation been one of conflict between two countries at war. Yet this year, 2017, marks fifty years since Israel began its occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel is doing all in its power to prevent the end of the occupation and to establish facts on the ground that will prevent reaching any agreement with the Palestinians. Proposing that the tens of thousands of people injured during this half century wait for the occupation to end and for “negotiations” to be concluded is tantamount to assuring that they will never receive any compensation.

Israeli officials prefer not to make this explicit. After all, instead of using the avenue of legislation to ensure an exemption from compensating Palestinians, the state could simply have flatly refused to pay for damage caused by its troops. Similarly, the state could have declared that it has no intention of carrying out criminal investigations of suspected harm to Palestinians. Instead, Israel elected to maintain a vast, expensive faux system, while making a show of a functioning system.

There are few kinds of injustice that cannot be codified in law, and it is possible to establish systems that offer no more than a pretense of law enforcement. Yet it is impossible to fully conceal the reality of the occupation, including the measures that Israel takes to evade responsibility and ensure a sweeping exemption – with no legal, administrative, or civilian accountability – for violent harm to the Palestinians who live under its control

 

http://www.btselem.org/publications/summaries/201703_getting_off_scot_free

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14 mars 2017 2 14 /03 /mars /2017 07:43

Only Israeli dead matter

Israel has seen uproar over the findings of a report on its 2014 war on Gaza. But it is another sham, like the others

 
Ramzy Baroud

At a glance, Israel appears a true democracy. Take a closer look, and that facade of democracy will soon dissipate, turning into something else entirely.

Tuesday, 28 February, was one of those moments. The chain of events was as follows:

An official Israeli State Comptroller issued another report on the Israeli government’s handling of the July 2014 war on Gaza. It chastised Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and then-defence minister Moshe Yaalon, among others, for the lack of preparedness and for their mishandling of the subsequent 50-day conflict; Netanyahu reacted angrily; Yaalon took to Facebook to defend his record; the opposition in the Israeli Knesset (parliament) went on the offensive; politicians lined up, taking sides; a media frenzy followed; the country was in an uproar.

This is not a precedent. It is a repeat of a recurring scenario that often follows Israel’s military plunders.

When such reports are issued, Israelis sort out their differences in fierce parliamentary and media battles.

While Israelis begin to examine their failures, demanding accountability from their government, Western mainstream media finds the perfect opportunity to whitewash its own record of failing to criticise Israel’s military onslaught at the time.

(Over 2,200 — of whom over 70 per cent were Palestinian civilians — were killed and thousands more wounded in Israel’s so-called “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.)

According to US media logic, for example, Israel’s investigation of its own action is a tribute to its thriving democracy, often juxtaposed with Arab governments’ lack of self-examination.

When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, instigating a war that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians, culminating in the Sabra and Shatila massacres, a familiar scenario ensued: The United States did its utmost to prevent any international intervention or meaningful investigation, while Israel was allowed to investigate itself.

The outcome was the Kahan Commission Report, the conclusion of which was summarised by international law expert Professor Richard Falk as such: “The full measure of Israel’s victory is rather its vindication, despite all, as a moral force in the region — as a superior state, especially as compared to its Arab rivals.”

The US media touted Israel’s “moral victory”, which, somehow, made everything okay, and with a magic wand, wiped the record clean.

An editorial in The Washington Post led the congratulatory chorus: “The whole process of the Israeli reaction to the Beirut massacre is a tribute to the vitality of democracy in Israel and to the country’s moral character.”

This sorry state of affairs has been in constant replay for nearly 70 years, ever since Israel declared its independence in 1948.

International law is clear regarding the legal responsibility of Occupying Powers, but since Israel is rarely an enthusiast of international law, Israel has forbidden any attempt at being investigated for its actions.

In fact, Israel abhors the very idea of being investigated. Every attempt by the United Nations, or any other organisation dedicated to upholding international law, has either been rejected or failed.

By Israeli logic, Israel is a democracy and democratic countries cannot be investigated over their army’s involvement in the death of civilians.

This was, in fact, the gist of the statement produced by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office in June 2010, soon after Israeli army commandos intercepted a humanitarian aid flotilla on its way to Gaza and killed 10 unarmed activists in international waters.

Israel is an Occupying Power under international law and is held accountable to the Fourth Geneva Convention. The international community is legally obliged to examine Israel’s conduct against Palestinian civilians and, needless to say, against unarmed civilians in international waters.

Israel’s record of investigating itself, aside from being spun to praise Israel’s moral superiority, has never been of any help to Palestinians.

In fact, the entire Israeli justice system is systematically unjust to occupied Palestinians.

The Israeli rights group Yesh Din reported that out “of the 186 criminal investigations opened by the Israeli army into suspected offenses against Palestinians in 2015, just four yielded indictments”. Such indictments rarely yield prison sentences.

The recent indictment of Israeli army medic Elor Azarya, sentencing him to a (now postponed) term of 18 months in prison for the killing in cold blood of an alleged Palestinian attacker is an exception, not the norm. It has been years since an Israeli soldier was sentenced. In fact, several thousand Palestinian civilians have been killed between the last time a “manslaughter” conviction was passed down on an Israeli soldier in 2005 and Azarya’s indictment.

Azarya, now perceived by many Israelis as a hero, has received such light punishment that it is less than that of a Palestinian child throwing rocks at an Israeli occupation soldier.

Some United Nations officials, although powerless before US backing of Israel, are furious.

The 18-month verdict “also stands in contrast to the sentences handed down by other Israeli courts for other less serious offenses, notably the sentencing of Palestinian children to more than three years’ imprisonment for throwing stones at cars,” UN Human Rights Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in response to the Israeli court decision.

While pro-Israel social media activists and media pundits went on to praise the supposedly unmatched Israeli democracy, a campaign in Israel to pardon Azarya continues to garner momentum. Prime Minister Netanyahu is already on board.

Not only is the Israeli justice system unjust to Palestinians, it was never intended to be so. A careful reading of the recent comptroller’s remarks and findings would clarify that the intent was never to examine war against a besieged nation as a moral concept, but the government’s inability to win the war more effectively: The breakdown of intelligence; Netanyahu’s lack of political inclusiveness; the death of an unprecedented number of Israeli soldiers.

Israel’s appetite for war is, in fact, at an all-time high. Some commentators are arguing that Israel might launch yet another war so as to redeem its “mistakes” in the previous one, as stated in the report.

But war itself is a staple for Israel. Hard-hitting Israeli journalist Gideon Levy’s reaction to the comptroller’s report says it best. He argued that the report is almost a plagiarised copy of the Winograd Commission Report that followed the 2006 Lebanon War.

All wars since 1948 “could have been avoided”, Levy wrote in Haaretz. But they were not, frankly, because “Israel loves wars. Needs them. Does nothing to prevent them and, sometimes, instigates them.”

This is the only way to read the latest report, but also all such reports, when war is used as a tool of control, to “downgrade” the defences of a besieged enemy, to create distraction from political corruption, to help politicians win popular support, to play, time and again, the role of the embattled victim and many other pretences.

As for Palestinians, who are neither capable of instigating or sustaining a war, they can only put up a fight, real or symbolic, whenever Israel decides to go for yet another bloody, avoidable war.

No matter the outcome, Israel will boast of its military superiority, unmatched intelligence, transparent democracy and moral ascendancy; the US, Britain, France and other Europeans will enthusiastically agree, issuing Israel another blank check to “defend itself” by any means.

Meanwhile, any attempt at investigating Israeli conduct will be thwarted, for Israel is a “democracy” and, for some reason, self-proclaimed democracies cannot be investigated. Only their sham investigations matter; only their dead count.


The writer is founder of PalestineChronicle.com

 

 

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/19847.aspx

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13 mars 2017 1 13 /03 /mars /2017 09:38

Les forces israéliennes démolissent le village bédouin al-Araqib pour la 110ème fois

 
 
 
 

11 03 2017 • 19 h 19

 

 

9 mars 2017 (mis à jour le 10 mars)

 

 

NEGEV (Ma’an) – Les forces israéliennes ont démoli jeudi le village bédouin al-Araqib dans la région du Negev au sud d’Israël pour la 110ème fois depuis 2010.

Des bulldozers israéliens escortés par la police israélienne ont fait un raid ce matin sur le village, « non reconnu » par les autorités israéliennes, tandis que la police bouclait toutes les entrées conduisant au village.

La dernière fois que les forces israéliennes ont démoli le village, c’était au début de février.

« Peu importe combien de fois ils démolissent et détruisent notre village, ils ne briseront pas notre moral », a dit un membre du comité local Aziz Sayyah à Ma’an pendant le raid de démolition précédent. « Al-Araqib est à nous et nous sommes ici pour rester. »

Al-Araqib est l’un des 35 villages bédouins considérés comme « non-reconnus » par l’État israélien. Selon l’Association pour les Droits Civiques en Israël (ACRI), plus de la moitié de la population bédouine du Negev qui se monte à environ 160.000 personnes réside dans des villages non reconnus.

Les démolitions visant les Palestiniens dotés de la citoyenneté israélienne ont sévèrement augmenté depuis le début de 2017, sans oublier, en janvier, un raid de la police israélienne pour évacuer le village bédouin non-reconnu d’al-Hiran qui s’est avéré meurtrier.

Les associations de défense des droits ont déclaré que la démolition d’al-Araqib et d’autres villages bédouins non-reconnus est au centre de la politique israélienne qui vise à déplacer la population indigène palestinienne hors du Negev et à la transférer dans des townships sous autorité de l’État pour faire de la place à l’expansion des communautés juives israéliennes.

La classification de leurs villages comme « non-reconnus » empêche les Bédouins de développer et d’étendre leurs communautés puisque leurs villages sont considérés comme illégaux par les autorités israéliennes.

Les autorités israéliennes ont également refusé de rattacher les villages bédouins non-reconnus aux réseaux de distribution d’eau et d’électricité, tout en excluant ces communautés de l’accès aux services de santé et d’éducation et aux infrastructures élémentaires.

Par ailleurs, les Palestiniens qui ont construit sans les permis de construire délivrés par Israël, que ce soit en Israël ou dans les territoires palestiniens occupés, ont le choix entre, soit démolir eux mêmes les bâtiments non autorisés, soit payer de fortes amendes pour couvrir les frais de démolition de ces bâtiments par les forces israéliennes.

Les résidents d’al-Araqib ont reçu l’ordre de payer plus de 2 millions de shekels (approximativement 541.000 $) pour le coût cumulé des démolitions de leur village exécutées par Israël depuis 2010.

Les associations de défense des droits des indigènes ont fait remarquer que le transfert des Bédouins dans des townships densément peuplés les éloigne aussi de leur mode de vie traditionnel semi-nomade qui dépend de l’accès à un large territoire de pâturage pour leurs troupeaux.

L’ancien Rapporteur Spécial de l’ONU sur les Droits des Populations Indigènes, James Anaya, a émis un rapport sur le traitement des Bédouins dans le Negev en remontant à 2011 – peu avant que le gouvernement israélien ait approuvé les plans de relocalisation de quelques 30.000 Bédouins de 13 villages non-reconnus dans des townships approuvés par le gouvernement – établissant que les Bédouins des townships permanents « se retrouvent au plus bas des indicateurs sociaux et économiques et souffrent du taux le plus élevé de chômage et le plus bas de revenus en Israël.

Les villages bédouins non-reconnus s’étaient établis dans le Negev peu après la guerre israélo-arabe de 1948 qui a fait suite à la création de l’État d’Israël.

Une grande partie des Bédouins avaient été transférés de force sur les sites des villages pendant la période de 17 ans où les Palestiniens d’Israël dépendaient du droit militaire israélien, période qui a pris fin peu avant la prise en 1967 de Gaza et de la Cisjordanie, dont Jérusalem Est, par l’armée israélienne.

Maintenant, plus de 60 ans plus tard, ces villages ne sont toujours pas reconnus par Israël et vivent sous les menaces constantes de démolition et de déplacement forcé.

Et pendant ce temps, les communautés juives israéliennes du Negev ne cessent de s’étendre, cinq plans de nouvelles constructions juives ayant été approuvés l’année dernière. D’après une enquête entreprise par les associations israéliennes de défense des droits, ACRI et Bimkom, deux des communautés approuvées se situent dans des zones où des villages bédouins non-reconnus existent déjà.

Traduction : J. Ch. pour l’Agence Média Palestine

Source: Maan News

 

 

http://www.agencemediapalestine.fr/blog/2017/03/11/les-forces-israeliennes-demolissent-le-village-bedouin-al-araqib-pour-la-110eme-fois/

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13 mars 2017 1 13 /03 /mars /2017 09:33
Publish Date: 2017/03/11
Israeli army vehicles raid Birzeit, clash with residents before withdrawing
 
 
 

RAMALLAH, March 11, 2017 (WAFA) – About a dozen Israeli army vehicles raided the town of Birzeit, north of Ramallah and considered Area A under full Palestinian control, before withdrawing shortly after, according to witnesses.

They said 11 vehicles raided the town and took up position at the cemetery.

Residents clashed with the forces, who pulled out of the town soon after.

There were no reports of casualties or arrests.

M.K.

http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=QCduCKa57197500041aQCduCK

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13 mars 2017 1 13 /03 /mars /2017 09:28
Uri Avnery's Column
 
Perhaps the Messiah will Come

 

IF SOMEONE had told me 50 years ago that the rulers of Israel, Jordan and Egypt had met in secret to make peace, I would have thought that I was dreaming.

If I had been told that the leaders of Egypt and Jordan had offered Israel complete peace in return for leaving the occupied territories, with some exchanges of territory and a token return of refugees, I would have thought that the Messiah had come. I would have started to believe in God or Allah or whoever there is up there.

Yet a few weeks ago it was disclosed that the rulers of Egypt and Jordan had indeed met in secret last year with the Prime Minister of Israel in Aqaba, the pleasant sea resort where the three states touch each other. The two Arab leaders, acting de facto for the entire Arab world, had made this offer. Benyamin Netanyahu gave no answer and went home.

So did the Messiah.

DONALD TRUMP, the comedian-in-chief of the US, some time ago gave his answer to the question about the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Two-states, one-state, whatever the two sides agree on, he answered.

He could just as well have answered: "Two-states, one-state, three-states, four-states, take your pick!"

And indeed, if you live in la-la-land, there is no limit to the number of states. Ten states is as good as one state. The more the merrier.

Perhaps it needed a total innocent like Trump to illustrate how much nonsense can be talked about that choice.

ON THE fifth day of the Six-day war, I published an open letter to the Prime Minister, Levy Eshkol, urging him to offer the Palestinians the opportunity to set up a state of their own in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Immediately after the war, Eshkol invited me for a private conversation. He listened patiently while I explained to him the idea. At the end he said, with a benevolent smile: "Uri, what kind of a merchant are you? A good merchant starts by demanding the maximum and offering the minimum. Then one haggles, and in the end a compromise is reached somewhere in the middle."

"True," I answered, "if one wants to sell a used car. But here we want to change history!"

The fact is that at the time, nobody believed that Israel would be allowed to keep the territories. It is said that generals always fight the last war. The same is true for statesmen. On the day after the six-day war, Israeli leaders called to mind the day after the 1956 war, when the US President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Soviet President Nikolai Bulganin compelled David Ben-Gurion to give back all the occupied territory ignominiously.

So there seemed to be only one choice: to give the territories back to King Hussein of Jordan, as the great majority advocated, or to give them to the Palestinian people, as my friends and I, a tiny minority, suggested.

I remember another conversation. The Minister of Trade and Industry, Haim Zadok, a very clever lawyer, made a fiery speech in the Knesset. When he came out of the plenum, I admonished him: "But you don't believe a single world you just said!" To which he replied, laughingly, "Anybody can make a good speech about things he believes in. The art is to make a good speech about things you don't believe in!"

Then he added seriously: "If they compel us to give back all the territories, we shall give back all the territories. If they compel us to give back part of the territories, we shall give back part of the territories. If they don't compel us to give back anything, we shall keep everything."

The incredible happened. President Lyndon Johnson and the entire world did not give a damn. We were left with the entire loot, to this very day.

I CANNOT resist the temptation to repeat again an old joke:

Right after the foundation of the State of Israel, God appeared to David Ben-Gurion and told him: "You have done good by my people. Utter a wish and I shall grant it".

"I wish that Israel shall be a Jewish and a democratic state and encompass all the country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan," Ben-Gurion replied.

"That is too much even for me!" God exclaimed. "But I will grant you two of the three." Since then we can choose between a Jewish and democratic Israel in a part of the country, a democratic state in all of the country that will not be Jewish or a Jewish state in all of the country that will not be democratic.

That is the choice we still face, after all this time.

The Jewish state in all of the country means apartheid. Israel always maintained cordial relations with the racist Afrikaner state in South Africa, until it collapsed. Creating such a state here is sheer lunacy.

The annexationists have a trick up their sleeve: to annex the West Bank, but not the Gaza Strip. This would create a state with only a 40% Palestinian minority. In such a country there would rage a perpetual intifada.

But in reality, even this is a pipe dream. Gaza cannot be separated forever from Palestine. It has been part of the country since time immemorial. It would have to be annexed, too. This would create a state with a slight Arab majority, a majority bereft of national and civil rights. This majority would grow rapidly.

Such a situation would be untenable in the long run. Israel would be compelled to give the vote to the Arabs.

Utopian idealists would welcome such a solution. How wonderful! The One-state solution! Democracy, equality, the end of nationalism. When I was very young, I too hoped for this solution. Life has cured me. Anyone actually living in the country knows that this is totally impossible. The two nations would fight each other. At least for the first one or two hundred years.

I have never seen a detailed plan of how such a state would function. Except once: Vladimir Jabotinsky, the brilliant leader of the Zionist far-right, wrote such a plan for the Allies in 1940. If the President of the state will be Jewish, he decreed, the Prime Minister will be Arab. And so on. Jabotinsky died a few months later, along with his plan.

Zionists came here to live in a Jewish state. That was their dominant motive. They cannot even imagine an existence as another Jewish minority. In such a situation, they would slowly emigrate, as the Afrikaners do. Indeed, such an emigration to the US and Germany is already happening under the radar. Zionism has always been a one-way street – towards Palestine. After this "solution", it would go the other way.

TRUTH IS that there is no choice at all.

The only real solution is the much-maligned "Two States for Two peoples", the one declared dead many times. It's either that solution or the destruction of both peoples.

So how do Israelis face this reality? They face it the Israeli way: by not facing the reality. They just go on living, day by day, hoping that the problem will just go away.

Perhaps the Messiah will come after all.

 

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1489155213

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13 mars 2017 1 13 /03 /mars /2017 09:26
Syrie : Un processus politique qui redémarre lentement
 
 
 
 
Les négociations de paix sur la Syrie se sont achevées à Genève sans avancée concrète, mais avec l'espoir que le prochain rendez-vous sera plus fructueux.
 
 
 

Inès Eissa avec agences

 

08-03-2017

 
 
 
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Dans les sillages de Genève, personne ne semblait se souvenir de la date du 15 mars 2011, le jour où tout a commencé. C’est en effet à cette date qu’a été lancée la crise syrienne. A l’époque, on ne parlait pas encore de crise, mais d’une révolte populaire, née dans la foulée de ce qu’on avait alors sur­nommé le Printemps arabe, et qui visait à davantage de libertés et de droits. Depuis, les choses ont bien changé. De la situation sur le terrain aux appellations mêmes. De l’affai­blissement de l’opposition dite modérée à la prolifération de groupes et groupuscules opposants, armés ou non, les uns islamistes radicaux, les autres plus modérés. De la naissance de l’Etat Islamique (EI), qui a donné lieu à un changement de taille dans la donne sur le terrain. Du désenga­gement américain progressif à l’im­plication grandissante de la Russie. De l’exigence du départ du régime de Bachar Al-Assad au fait accom­pli de son renforcement. Rien ne ressemble à l’ambiance qui préva­lait en Syrie en mars 2011. Et, ce cocktail n’a pas manqué de jeter son ombre sur les tentatives de résolu­tion du conflit.

 

Ainsi, les négociations intersy­riennes de Genève 4 se sont ache­vées sans aboutir à une avancée concrète. Les positions du régime et de l’opposition semblent toujours irréconciliables. Pourtant, un accord sur l’ordre du jour de la prochaine réunion prévue fin mars a été convenu. Pour autant, Genève est considérée comme la plus réussie des réunions d’autant plus que l’émissaire onusien, De Mistura, a réussi pour la première fois à tenir des pourparlers directs entre le régime et l’opposition.

Agenda en quatre points

Malgré cela, les discussions ont pris fin avec l’acceptation par les belligérants syriens d’un « agenda clair » en quatre points, selon Staffan de Mistura. Le gouvernement avait insisté à plusieurs reprises ces der­niers jours sur sa volonté d’ajouter la lutte contre le terrorisme aux trois autres éléments prévus par l’émis­saire avant le début des négociations, à savoir la gouvernance — thème flou pour évoquer une transition politique —, la Constitution et les élections. Il a obtenu gain de cause. Ces quatre sujets seront discutés « en parallèle », a assuré l’envoyé spé­cial, mais les questions de stratégie contre le terrorisme seront discutées à Genève, tandis que la partie opéra­tionnelle de la lutte contre le terro­risme sera abordée à Astana. Et l’Onu prévoit un nouveau rendez-vous en mars.

Après un peu plus d’une semaine de discussions difficiles, l’émissaire de l’Onu pour la Syrie, Staffan de Mistura, a fait vendredi soir le bilan de ce quatrième round de négocia­tions. « Le train est prêt, il est en gare, les moteurs chauffent. Tout est prêt, il a juste besoin d’un accéléra­teur », a déclaré M. De Mistura. « Je crois que nous avons à présent un agenda clair devant nous », a indiqué l’émissaire. « Nous avons discuté de procédure, mais nous avons aussi discuté de substance », a-t-il dit. Ce diplomate chevronné, dont l’optimisme chronique bute depuis près de trois ans sur le conflit syrien, a prévu de se rendre la semaine prochaine au Conseil de sécurité de l’Onu à New York. Ensuite, a-t-il dit, « nous aurons Astana pour consolider le cessez-le-feu, et puis à nouveau Genève ». Si huit jours de discussions à Genève n’ont pas permis d’avancée majeure, de tous petits pas ont été accomplis, et aucun des belligérants n’a pris le risque de claquer la porte. Le médiateur de l’Onu a enchaîné les rendez-vous avec toutes les parties : la délégation du régime, celle du Haut Comité des Négociations (HCN, principale délégation de l’opposition), les opposants proches de la Russie, le « Groupe du Caire » et le « Groupe de Moscou ». Les pourparlers n’ont en effet pas per­mis d’entamer des discussions directes entre les belligérants. Les deux parties se sont simplement fait face lors de la cérémonie d’ouver­ture la semaine dernière.

A l’issue des négociations, Bachar Al-Jaafari, l’austère chef de la délé­gation du régime, s’est félicité samedi devant les journalistes « d’avoir pu imposer un ordre du jour rationnel et équilibré qui sert les intérêts du peuple syrien ». Selon lui, « le thème principal, la lutte contre le terrorisme, a occupé 80 % des discussions », alors que les trois autres points ont été effleurés. Quant au chef des négociateurs de l’oppo­sition syrienne, Nasr Al-Hariri, il a jugé cette session « plus positive ». « C’était la première fois que nous avons discuté d’une manière accep­table, en profondeur, les questions de l’avenir de la Syrie et la transi­tion politique », a-t-il dit. « Nous voulons continuer les négocia­tions », a-t-il précisé, sans toutefois donner de date pour une prochaine rencontre. Il a également indiqué que les délégations aux pourparlers en Syrie avaient reçu un papier en 12 points de l’émissaire de l’Onu. « Il s’agit de dispositions générales (...) sur l’avenir de la Syrie », a-t-il expliqué.

Reste à savoir comment se dérou­leront les prochaines négociations. « Le processus politique en Syrie passe par une phase décisive. En fait, le chapitre militaire s’approche de la fin, ouvrant la voie au règle­ment politique et diplomatique », explique un diplomate qui a requis l’anonymat. Selon lui, « comme dans toutes les guerres civiles, les armes doivent se taire à un moment donné pour céder la place aux négociations sur la base des réali­tés au sol ». Ainsi, l’intervention militaire russe a accéléré l’achemi­nement vers la phase du règlement politique, tout en changeant la donne au sol en faveur du régime syrien. « A présent, toutes les condi­tions sont propices à trouver une solution pacifique qui préserverait la cohésion du pays et lui permet­trait d’éviter la désintégration de l’Etat syrien », conclut le diplo­mate.

 

http://hebdo.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/0/2/8/22516/Syrie--Un-processus-politique-qui-redémarre-lentem.aspx

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