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2 juillet 2017 7 02 /07 /juillet /2017 06:20

Video: Mob of Jewish extremists beat Palestinians in Jérusalem

 
 
June 29, 2017 10:29 P.M. (Updated: June 29, 2017 10:42 P.M.)
 
 

Screenshot of video showing a mob of Jewish extremists attacking Palestinians in Jérusalem

 

 

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A video was released on Thursday showing dozens of far-right Israelis attacking three Palestinians in Jerusalem a week ago, as Israeli police reportedly failed to respond and prevent the assault.

Israeli daily Haaretz obtained the video, where some 30 members of the Jewish extremist group Lehava are shown purpotedly assaulting three Palestinians during a march organized by the group in downtown Jerusalem last Thursday.

At one point in the shaky video, the Palestinians, who are reportedly all residents of occupied East Jerusalem, run into an Israeli police officer, who blocked the group of Israelis from approaching the Palestinians, and told the Jewish youths to leave. The youths refused and continued to hurl insults at the Palestinians.

The video then cuts to the Jewish youths chasing the Palestinians down a street in Jerusalem.

Haaretz reported that a witness said that the police officer eventually stopped trying to deter the assault, leaving the Palestinians to fend for themselves.

"The officer asked for our I.D. cards, but he didn't help us or do anything, they continued to beat us right next to the cop. So we fled," Majdi Abu Taya, 19, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan told Haaretz.

Other witnesses told Haaretz that the police did not even attempt to prevent the assault, and refused to call in backup.

When the Palestinians fled the scene, the mob of Jewish youths followed them. Abu Taya was beaten by the Israelis when attempting to flee, according to Haaretz, while the two others were able to hide in a construction site and pelt rocks at the Jewish youths in an attempt to push them out of the area.

Haaretz also reported that while Israeli police had said they would open up an investigation into the incident, when a high school student who had witnessed the assault attempted to file a complaint, he was told that they had no record of such an incident occurring.

Another anonymous witness told Haaretz that it was not the first time he had seen Israeli extremists assaulting Palestinians, saying that “It’s systematic. They engage in provocations to get the victims to react, and then they’ll say it’s self-defense.”

According to Haaretz, one of the Palestinians was hospitalized with mild injuries from the incident.

An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Haaretz added that while most members of Lehava “merely hand out promotional material” during their marches, “others actively look for Palestinians and try to attack them."

"Despite this, there have been almost no police investigations, much less indictments, on account of such mob attacks in recent years.”

Meanwhile, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem routinely report mistreatment by Israeli police themselves, while Palestinians have often accused Israeli forces of detaining Palestinian youths without any evidence of wrongdoing and assaulting them in the process.

In May, a video emerged of Israeli police forces detaining a family of Palestinian street vendors after assaulting them in East Jerusalem.

In another incident In March, an Israeli police officer was caught on camera headbutting, slapping, punching, kicking, and kneeing a Palestinian in the lower abdomen in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri claimed at the time that the video showed “dangerous and unordinary individual behavior” that did not reflect the usual conduct of Israeli police forces.

However, Palestinians have long claimed that Israeli forces abuse their position of power to verbally and physically humiliate and assault Palestinians on a regular basis.

Rights groups have also warned that the failure of the Israeli police and army to adequately respond to Israeli violence on Palestinians emboldens Jewish extremists to openly assault or attack Palestinian residents in the presence of Israeli forces in both the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

 
 
 
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2 juillet 2017 7 02 /07 /juillet /2017 06:13

Israeli forces attempt to detain 10-year-old, deliver demolition orders in East Jérusalem

 
 
 
 
June 30, 2017 9:10 P.M. (Updated: June 30, 2017 9:12 P.M.)
 
 
(File)
 
 
 
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained a 15-year-old Palestinian and attempted to detain a 10-year-old on Friday during a police raid in the area of Kroum al-Qamar in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, while Israeli forces handed out demolition orders to two Palestinian families in the Wadi Hilweh area of Silwan.

The Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that Israeli forces raided the house of Muhammad al-Abasi in Silwan and attempted to detain his two sons: Nasir, 15, and Hamza, 10 for allegedly throwing rocks at Israeli forces.

The center said that Hamza was released from Israeli custody after the family had intervened as he was being dragged into an Israeli police vehicle. However, the 10-year-old was issued an order to appear for interrogations at the Israeli police station on Salah al-Din street in East Jerusalem.

Nasir, meanwhile, was detained by Israeli forces.

The family told the center that Israeli forces had attempted to detain the two brothers when they were swimming in a pool, and had prevented Hamza from dressing.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri released a statement saying that Israeli police had attempted to disperse a “local dispute between two families” in Silwan.

Al-Samri said that Palestinians began throwing rocks at the police and damaged a police vehicle, while an Israeli police officer was lightly injured.

A Palestinian minor was detained during the incident who was “involved in rock-throwing,” while another suspect was able to “escape” from the Israeli police, al-Samri said.

Al-Samri added that Israeli police had conducted a "search" throughout Silwan in order to "find the suspect and present him to justice."

Palestinian stone throwers, including minors, face harsh penalties by Israeli authorities, with Israel passing laws in 2015 allowing for up to 20 years in prison if charged with throwing stones at vehicles and a minimum of three years for the act of throwing a stone at an Israeli.

Right groups have denounced the legislation as being designed specifically to target Palestinian youth, as Israelis and settlers are rarely prosecuted under the same standards of the law.

Meanwhile, the center said that Israeli forces and Jerusalem municipality crews had also entered the Wadi Hilweh area of Silwan, and raided the homes of Firas Samarin and Muhammad Faraj Diam, whom they presented with demolition orders for allegedly building their homes without Israeli-issued building permits.

A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality was not immediately available for comment.

According to UN documentation, as of June 19, 74 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year, displacing at least 158 Palestinians. A total of 190 Palestinian buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2016.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in East Jerusalem, though the Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which also see high approval ratings.

However, testimonies collected by the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ) found that the procedures to apply for Israeli-issued building permits were lengthy, sometimes lasting for several years, while the application costs could reach up to 300,000 shekels ($79,180).

As four out of five Palestinians in East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, applying for costly building permits is nearly impossible, leading to only seven percent of Jerusalem building permits being allocated to Palestinian neighborhoods.

In addition to land seizures and home demolitions, the crackdown on Palestinian Jerusalemites has also seen the escalation of violent night raids by Israeli police, carried out in breach of protocol and without proper search warrants.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass home demolitions.

 
 
 
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2 juillet 2017 7 02 /07 /juillet /2017 06:07

'It's okay to be racist in Israel'

An Israeli conscientious objector speaks out about racism and subjugation as the occupation enters its 51st year.

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Supporters of an Israeli soldier, Elor Azaria, charged with manslaughter after he shot a wounded Palestinian alleged attacker as he lay on the ground in Hebron in 2016 [Reuters]

By

 

Zena al-Tahhan is an online journalist and producer for Al Jazeera English.

Occupied East Jerusalem - This year, Israel's 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories entered its 51st year. 

In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Israeli army is responsible for controlling the lives of more than three million Palestinians through hundreds of checkpoints, raids of villages and homes, trial of civilians in military courts, demolition of homes, suppression of protests, and the killing and injuring of civilians, to name a few.

To sustain the occupation industry,
Israel makes it mandatory by law for Israeli citizens, excluding Palestinians and Orthodox Jews, to enter the military at 18. Men have to serve just under three years while women serve two years. 

Yet, there are Israeli citizens who refuse to serve in the military for several reasons, including opposition to the army's policies in the Palestinian territories it occupies.

Sahar Vardi, 27, is one of such refusers. She is an Israeli activist who was sentenced to prison and detention eight times consecutively for her defiance in 2008. Vardi also faced other repercussions for her decision; she said she would get very late phone calls for periods up to a year at a time with people cursing at her.

Her home was also graffitied with profanity directed at her. 


READ MORE: How Israeli soldiers interrogated me


Many countries around the world have accepted the right of conscientious objectors to be exempt from military service. In Israel, objectors must apply through a committee to gain exemption.

The committee, popularly known as the "Conscience Committee", is mostly made up of military officers. In practice, only those who claim religious reasons or apolitical pacifism - a refusal of violence in all forms - are exempted.Those who outwardly state their opposition to the occupation are sentenced to repeated terms of imprisonment until they are declared unfit to serve by the Israeli army. 

Al Jazeera spoke to Vardi, who was released in 2009, about her experience and her views on Israeli society after 50 years of occupation.

Al Jazeera: Can you tell us about the process of getting out of military service in Israel?

Sahar Vardi: There are two legal ways to be exempt from military service in Israel. The first is being recognised as a conscientious objector. It's difficult to do so, but it is possible.

Every year, some 54,000 people
 are drafted into the Israeli military. Out of the 54,000, about 100-200 request conscientious objector (CO) status*. A military committee assesses each case, but grants CO status to only a few dozen youths.


READ MORE: Israeli army 'among world's child rights violators'


The committee only allows pacifists to be exempt from military service, but the committee has a very narrow definition of what pacifism is. To be granted CO status, you have to tell the committee that you are against any form of violence under any circumstance and that your refusal is not political. Mainly, if you say the word "occupation", you fail. That's kind of the game.

A lot of it is also avoiding the committee's questions because they're absurd - you cannot answer them - at least not honestly. We've had people being asked: "You're standing with a gun in front of Hitler, what do you do?"

The second way to be legally exempt from military service is to cite mental health problems, which is the easier way out.

Al Jazeera: How did you decide to go about it?

Vardi: I did go to the conscientious objectors' committee, but decided in advance that I will say the real reasons why I did not want to be in the military and use the word "occupation" in my explanation. And I failed the committee's test.

I got a letter saying that I was not recognised as a conscientious objector, and therefore must serve in the military. Once you are classified as fit for service, you cannot refuse to join the military in Israel - there's no legal way to do that.

You are tried as a soldier refusing an order, which means that you will go to court, be sentenced, and go to prison. When you eventually get out of prison, you will get an order saying you have to go back to your military base to continue your service. If you continue to refuse, you will repeat these steps for a while.

The most anyone has ever sat in prison for refusing to serve was two years.

I refused eight times consecutively, but I wasn't sentenced to prison each time. Sometimes I was put in detention because they didn't have room for me in prisons. In those instances, we were kept in a military base instead. I've spent a total of five months in prison and detention. 

Al Jazeera: Why didn't you try to get out based on mental health?

Vardi: Getting out on mental health is pretty easy. Today about 12 percent of the Israeli population that's supposed to be conscripted - Jewish and Druze - either don't start or don't complete their military service based on mental health issues. That's huge. I'm going to assume that not 12 percent of Israeli society is mentally ill.

Everyone knows that this is the easiest way out of the military. Many people who do not want to serve in the military because of economic reasons will get out by citing mental health issues.

Also, some people who are ideologically opposed to being in the military, but who do not want to go to prison, choose the mental health route to avoid military service.

For me, it was kind of an opportunity to make a political stand. I knew I could get out in whatever way - I could have said the right things to the conscientious objectors' committee. I know the answers they wanted to hear. But the idea is that it's an opportunity to talk about the occupation. There are other people like me, so we had a voice - we came out with a campaign, we made statements to the
media, and so on.

Once you go to prison, you can talk about the realities of the occupation. This is not merely about avoiding military service, which is easy. It is also about putting out a message.

Al Jazeera: Do you think Israelis are ignorant of the occupation of the Palestinian territories?

Vardi: Israelis do know that something is happening in the West Bank. Some of them won't call it occupation because they like to hide behind the legal discourse of it being disputed territory.

But there aren't Israelis that don't know there's military control on a civilian population at least in the West Bank - in
Gaza, it's different. 

People have no idea about what that means though. We have this idea that everyone was in the military so everyone knows what occupation looks like right? That's not the case.

You dehumanise them just so you can say no at a checkpoint. But the next time you're in a situation where you have to push them it'll be easy enough for you to push them. And then when you have to shoot them, it'll be easy enough for you to shoot them.

Sahar Vardi, Israeli activist

Between 10-15 percent of the military are combat - meaning will actually be stationed in the occupied territories.

Even then, what they know is a very specific narrow reality. You speak to soldiers in a protest and they'll tell you this is Area A of the West Bank, you're not supposed to be here when we're not actually in Area A. 
[Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israeli citizens are forbidden from entering Area A of the West Bank, under Palestinian control]

They don't even know what's happening around them.

Even the fact that you're there doesn't mean you understand the reality. Understanding what is actually going on requires a lot of knowledge and the priority of the military is not to educate soldiers. The military's priority is to teach soldiers that they need to follow orders. So, Israelis don't really know what occupation is.

Most Israeli Jerusalemites that you stop in the street in West Jerusalem don't know that Palestinian Jerusalemites are residents and not citizens - they literally have no idea that they are not citizens of the state.

Al Jazeera: Who's responsibility do you think it is?

Vardi: Of course, it is their responsibility to know, but it's the responsibility of Israeli activists to make sure Israeli citizens know these things. For most people, the occupation is not relevant to their lives. It's also important to understand the dynamics within the Israeli society.

Israel today, within the Organisation for Economic, Co-operation and Development (OECD), is a country with one of the biggest gaps between the rich and the poor. This means a huge part of Israeli society is struggling for existence - and really couldn't care less why East Jerusalemites are only residents, and why close to 80 percent of them live in poverty. It's not really their priority.

I think for us as activists, part of the responsibility is to figure out how to make this an issue - and make people understand that it is their responsibility to care about this. But we need to make sure that we do this from a place that also acknowledges other issues that they care about.

Al Jazeera: Why do you think the discussion on 1948 in Israel, even among leftists, is non-existent?

Vardi: There's a difference between the Zionist and the non-Zionist left. But mainly, it's because there's an easy solution for 1967 - the two states. I don't think it's realistic, but at least at the discourse level, the Israeli left have a solution for the problems born out of the 1967 war.

But 1948 - what do you do with it? The one thing you can do with it - if you actually want to talk about it and recognise the
Right of Return - is to give up the Jewish state. There's a lot of solutions that will still allow Israeli Jews to be here - that's not the issue. The issue is that if you acknowledge the problem with 1948, your only option is to give up on the Jewish state.


INTERACTIVE: A record year of home demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem


In mainstream Zionist discourse and mindset, that's not on the table. That's not an option, that's not something people conceptualise. It's challenging for people who grew up with the conception of: "We need a Jewish state to protect ourselves." That's mainly what it stems from. They believe that this is a need. So, based on that, opening up 1948 to discussion is a problem.

It's a question of tackling something far deeper and far more rooted within Israeli existence. Most Israelis don't have a reason to do it. Their life is fine - it's comfortable - why should they question these things?

There's actually been more discussion in the last few years about the "
Nakba" - surprisingly because of the right wing. For example, the Nakba law [a law that criminalises commemorating the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948] meant that you have to explain what the Nakba is.

Al Jazeera: How do you think regular Israelis justify what is happening in the occupied Palestinian territories?

Vardi: For the ideological right, it's about taking over the Holy Land. From a more mainstream political perspective, a lot of it is about resources - cheap land, water, man power, that allows for a successful economy.

Most settlers don't move to a settlement for ideological reasons - they move because it's far cheaper. For example, people who move into the
Maale Adumim settlement move there because that is the only place they can afford to live.

Others justify all this with the need for security. They think occupation keeps them safe. This has a lot to do with how Israelis are educated and how fear is a huge part of our identity. And there's a lot of political interest in keeping it that way. You can't continue such a level of militarisation in a society without fear. You can't ignore what happened in 1948 without it. You can't continue maintaining an occupation without it. Our education system is built to make sure that we're terrified. Even our media and political campaigns - [Israeli Prime Minister]
Netanyahu is an expert at making sure that we're terrified.

I have a friend who, during her military service, worked at the biggest radio station in the country, which is military run. She was part of the news desk. They were ordered to start the broadcast with a news story about
Iran whenever they had to report something that is critical of the military or something bad that happened - like a Palestinian being killed at a checkpoint.

They were told to go to Reuters and find something about Iran. It's like: "We do bad things sometimes at a checkpoint but there's an existential threat - a nuclear bomb, right?"

People are genuinely afraid.

Al Jazeera: How do you explain the Israeli military's use of psychological abuse in the occupied territories?

Vardi: That's how militaries work. If you choose to maintain an occupation and if you choose to maintain military control on a civilian population, it's going to be violent - there's no nice way to do it.

Of course,
racism is an inherent part of it. This is rooted in the fact that these people are told that they have to control this civilian population as if they are an enemy. To achieve this, they have to become racist. You can't stand in a checkpoint and stop people from going where they need to go without either going crazy or becoming racist.

 

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/01/israel-education-system-ensures-terrified-170110120105356.html

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2 juillet 2017 7 02 /07 /juillet /2017 05:56

Gulf crisis: Qatar FM meets UN Security Council members

 
 

Foreign minister asks non-permanent members of UN Security Council to call for an end of the blockade on Qatar.

Qatar's foreign minister has asked members of the United Nations Security Council to urge a Saudi-led bloc of states to lift their blockade on the Gulf country, nearly one month after it began. 

Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Friday met with 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council at the Qatari mission to the UN in the US state of New York, urging them to speak out publicly on his country's behalf. 

Al Thani told Al Jazeera he gave them "updates on the situation" and urged "all of them to call for a lifting of the blockade on Qatar". 

Qatar was "trying to encourage all the parties to enter a serious dialogue to try to put an end to this," the foreign minister said. 

The meeting took place one day after Al Thani's visit to Washington DC, "where US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson promised to try to help resolve the gulf crisis," Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey, reporting from New York, said. 

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 over allegations that it supports "extremism" and is too close to Iran - charges Doha has repeatedly denied. 

After more than two weeks, the four Arab countries gave Doha a 10-day ultimatum to comply with a 13-point list of demands in exchange for the end of the anti-Qatar measures.

The demands include that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera Media Network, close a Turkish military base, scale down ties with Iran, and pay an unspecified sum in reparations.

Egypt, a non-permanent member of the Security Council through the end of this year, did not attend the meeting with Al Thani in New York. 

The Qatari foreign minister was set to return to Doha after the meeting, where "his country will continue to press its case with a number of different organisation like the international civil aviation organisation, the international maritime organisation, and the human rights council in Geneva," Al Jazeera's Saloumi said.

"But no formal action is expected here in the Security Council."

Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates

Meanwhile, Qatar's transport minister has met twice this past week with the UN's International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) at its headquarters in Montreal, Canada, asking it to intervene in the crisis. 

For nearly a month, many Qatar Airways flights to and from Doha have had to make huge detours, thanks to the airspace blockade by the Saudi-led bloc of states.

It has been costly to the airline, disruptive to passengers and, according to the Qataris, dangerous to passengers and illegal under international law.

"Really it's not a political issue, we are talking here about a technical issue, which means safety and security of the aviation," Qatar's Minister of Transport and Communications, Jassim Saif Al Sulaiti, told Al Jazeera.

"I don't mean just Qatar Airways, but all the international [airlines]."

Al Jazeera's Daniel Lak, reporting from Montreal, said it was a challenging case for an agency that is "highly technical and known to be publicity shy". 

The ICAO works on regulation, flight routing and other issues that may not obvious to most travellers, but keep the world’s airlines and airspace running as smoothly as possible.

"The situation comes as Qatar Airways has been growing exponentially with profits soaring more than 20 percent this year," Al Jazeera's Lak said.

"It’s one of the world’s leading long-haul airlines and has ambitious plans to buy more planes and fly to more places." 

It recently celebrated its 10th anniversary of flights into New York by lighting the Empire State Building in the airline’s colours. And just last month it announced it wanted to buy 10 percent of American Airlines.

"While a negotiated solution to this Gulf crisis seems stalled, Qatar believes its best hope for an end to this air blockade at least might be the technical, safety and security arguments it’s advancing at the International Civil Aviation Organization," said Lak.

 

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/gulf-crisis-qatar-fm-meets-security-council-members-170701042724973.html 

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1 juillet 2017 6 01 /07 /juillet /2017 07:02
Amichai, la nouvelle colonie israélienne contestée
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Par

Destinée à relocaliser les évacués de l’avant-poste illégal d’Amona, Amichai, dont la construction vient de débuter, s’étend en partie sur des terres palestiniennes. Un recours déposé par une association devant la Cour suprême pourrait freiner les travaux.

 

 
Ofra, Amichai (Cisjordanie), envoyée spéciale.-  « J’ai le mérite d’être le premier ministre qui construit la première ville en Judée-Samarie [Cisjordanie – ndlr] depuis des décennies », s’est félicité Benjamin Netanyahou, la semaine dernière, en annonçant le début du chantier.
 
L’événement est en effet historique. La construction planifiée de colonies juives par le gouvernement israélien était gelée depuis les accords d’Oslo de 1993. Ce qui ne doit pas faire oublier que les colonies déjà existantes ou développées à Jérusalem-Est ont connu entre-temps une croissance vertigineuse. Le nombre de colons israéliens est aujourd’hui estimé à plus de 500 000, contre 200 000 en 2005.

 

 
 
Située dans la vallée de Shilo, au nord-est de Ramallah, la nouvelle colonie autorisée par le gouvernement a été nommée Amichai, contraction d’Amona et du mot “vie” en hébreu, signifiant “Amona est toujours en vie”. Elle doit servir à accueillir les habitants de l’avant-poste illégal du même nom, évacué en février dernier, à quelques kilomètres de là. Au terme de plusieurs années de bataille judiciaire, la Cour suprême avait confirmé en novembre 2016 que la colonie sauvage, partiellement installée depuis 1996 sur des terres palestiniennes, devait être démantelée.

 

En dépit de l’application de cette décision par le gouvernement israélien, les anciens habitants d’Amona n’en démordent pas : « La Cour suprême n’a pas dit qu’Amona appartenait à quelqu’un. Personne n’a jamais réussi à prouver que cette terre lui appartenait », affirme Elad Ziv, qui a vécu dans l’avant-poste illégal pendant plus de dix-huit ans et y a élevé ses sept enfants. Comme les autres membres de sa communauté, il réfute toujours l’idée que cette terre ait appartenu un jour à des Palestiniens, persuadé d’avoir un droit “naturel” sur celle-ci. « Quand on est arrivés à Amona, il n’y avait rien, c’était une colline vide. Il n’y avait que l’héritage de nos ancêtres, les ruines d’anciens vignobles, raconte-t-il. Nous ne sommes pas des étrangers ici, nos pères fondateurs ont bâti ces collines. C’est un miracle que nous y soyons de retour. »

La majorité des 42 familles qui vivaient à Amona ont été relogées provisoirement à Ofra, une colonie voisine. Comme 25 autres familles, celle d’Elad Ziv s’entasse désormais dans une midrasha, un internat pour étudiants talmudiques. « Nous dormons dans des dortoirs avec nos six plus jeunes enfants dans de toutes petites chambres. C’est une situation très difficile, nous n’avons pas de vie privée », déplore le père de famille. Pendant des mois, avant qu’ils ne soient effectivement évacués, les habitants d’Amona ont refusé les propositions de relogement du gouvernement. Alors, quand on lui demande si le jusqu'au-boutisme dont a fait preuve sa communauté n’est pas à l’origine de sa situation, Elad Ziv est piqué au vif : « Vous pensez que c’est notre faute si nous en sommes là ? On ne nous a jamais proposé de réelle solution », juge-t-il, citant le précédent des habitants évacués de la bande de Gaza en 2005, dont certains ont attendu dix ans avant d’être relogés dans de véritables maisons. « Nous sommes des réfugiés », conclut-il, impatient de s’installer dans la nouvelle colonie promise par le gouvernement.

 

Elad Ziv dans la chambre où il dort avec sa famille et ses six enfants depuis qu'il a quitté Amona. © C. D.
 
Elad Ziv dans la chambre où il dort avec sa famille et ses six enfants depuis qu'il a quitté Amona. © C. D.

 

Vue depuis l’avant-poste voisin d’Aria, Amichai se résume pour l’instant à une entaille beige dans une colline dégarnie par le vent, devant laquelle s’étend un vignoble verdoyant. Une dizaine de machines, tracteurs, marteaux piqueurs et tractopelles vrombissent depuis la semaine dernière pour ouvrir la route qui mènera à la nouvelle colonie. Avichai Boaron, le porte-parole des habitants d’Amona, fait visiter le chantier, qui prévoit la construction de 100 unités de logements. Ce n’est donc pas seulement les 42 familles d’Amona qu’Amichai pourrait accueillir mais jusqu’à « 100 à 200 familles », estime-t-il. Cette fois, « c’est une colonie décidée par le gouvernement, c’est légal », souligne-t-il.

« Légal selon la loi israélienne » mais « pas aux yeux des lois internationales », rétorque Gilad Grossman, porte-parole de l’ONG Yesh Din, déjà à l’origine des recours déposés contre l’avant-poste d’Amona. Pour lui, la construction de cette nouvelle colonie approuvée par le gouvernement pose tout de même problème.

Telle qu’elle a été délimitée, « la juridiction d’Amichai comprend des terres appartenant à des fermiers du village arabe voisin de Jalud », dénonce-t-il.

Ces fermiers ne pourront donc plus accéder à leurs champs.

Mais « ils ne seront pas les seuls à être affectés, ajoute-t-il. D’autres Palestiniens ne pourront plus accéder aux limites de leurs terrains, certains seront obligés de faire un grand détour pour contourner la nouvelle colonie », détaille-t-il. Aucune construction ne devrait en revanche se dresser sur des terres appartenant effectivement à des Palestiniens. « Le gouvernement a appris de ses années de litiges avec la Cour suprême », ironise le militant.

La semaine dernière, Yesh Din a donc déposé un recours devant la plus haute juridiction israélienne pour contester le projet en réclamant « plus de transparence dans le processus d’administration de la Cisjordanie », et la possibilité pour les Palestiniens de « faire entendre leur voix » et « d’avoir le droit d’objecter ». « Même si tout est fait selon la lettre, la construction d’Amichai ne bénéficie qu’aux Israéliens et pas aux Palestiniens », regrette Gilad Grossman.

Yesh Din met également en garde contre le plan plus large dans lequel s’inscrit la construction de cette nouvelle colonie. En février dernier, le gouvernement Netanyahou a fait adopter une loi permettant d’ordonner la confiscation de terrains appartenant à des propriétaires privés palestiniens en échange du versement d'indemnisations. Un texte qui pourrait permettre la légalisation de centaines d’avant-postes illégaux. « À terme, le but est de connecter Amichai aux autres colonies et avant-postes voisins et de créer un grand bloc qui divisera la Cisjordanie et rendra impossible la création d’un État palestinien », analyse le porte-parole de l’ONG.

 

La construction d'Amichai a commencé la semaine dernière. © C. D.
 
La construction d'Amichai a commencé la semaine dernière. © C. D.

 

Une ambition que ne démentent pas les habitants d’Amona. « Nous espérons faire grandir Amichai autant que nous pourrons et que des centaines de familles nous rejoignent pour faire “fleurir le désert” », s’enthousiasme Avichai Boaron, reprenant une des célèbres formules utilisées par le père fondateur d’Israël, David Ben Gourion, pour encourager le développement du désert du Néguev. « Beaucoup de Juifs pensent que c’est la plus magnifique des choses qui puisse arriver », veut-il croire. Quant aux réactions hostiles que pourrait susciter cette nouvelle colonie chez ses futurs voisins palestiniens, le porte-parole des habitants d’Amona refuse de les prendre en considération : « L’agenda du peuple juif ne peut pas dépendre de ce que les Palestiniens feront ou ne feront pas. Cela ne peut pas ébranler notre engagement envers l’histoire juive, envers notre communauté. »

De ce point de vue, le démantèlement d’Amona semble avoir été un maigre sacrifice. Pourtant, les habitants de l’avant-poste illégal évacué peinent à cacher leur amertume. S’ils en veulent toujours au premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahou, ils sont surtout remontés contre le ministre de l’éducation et fervent défenseur de la poursuite de la colonisation, Naftali Bennet. « S’il s’était battu comme nous contre l’évacuation d’Amona, nous n’en serions pas là aujourd’hui. Amona serait toujours sur sa colline. Ce que j’accepte de Netanyahou, je ne l’accepte pas de la part de Bennet. Je pensais qu’il serait plus dévoué envers les valeurs du sionisme et l’idée du retour des Juifs en Judée-Samarie [Cisjordanie – ndlr]. Il nous a déçus », tranche Avichai Boaron.

« On nous a bougés pour aucune raison. Personne ne va installer des Palestiniens à Amona », renchérit Elad Ziv. De fait, invoquant des « questions de sécurité », l’armée israélienne a fermé la zone où s’érigeait l’avant-poste illégal pour au moins deux ans. Cela n’empêche pas Gilad Grossman, de l’association Yesh Din, de vouloir continuer le combat : « Nous n’avons jamais cru que la fin d’Amona signerait la fin de l’entreprise de colonisation en Cisjordanie. Mais nous croyons toujours que les propriétaires palestiniens d’Amona pourront y retourner un jour. »

 

Avichai Boaron sur le chantier d'Amichai, le 26 juin 2017. © C. D.
 
Avichai Boaron sur le chantier d'Amichai, le 26 juin 2017. © C. D.

 

Reste à savoir si la nouvelle colonie d’Amichai, dont le chantier a débuté avec trois mois de retard sur le calendrier fixé par le gouvernement, verra effectivement le jour. Une fois les travaux de terrassement et d’infrastructures terminés, la construction des maisons pourrait commencer dans quelques mois. « Mais si les travaux sont bloqués par la Cour suprême, cela pourrait prendre des années », s’inquiète Elad Ziv. « Je ne fais pas confiance à la Cour suprême, elle juge souvent selon un agenda politique et non selon ce qui est juste », affirme-t-il. Comme beaucoup d’autres de ses camarades, l’ancien habitant d’Amona accuse l’ONG Yesh Din d’être l’instrument de l’Union européenne dans la région. « Nous publions la liste de nos donateurs tous les trois mois, nous sommes financés par plusieurs pays européens, mais personne ne nous dicte notre agenda, nous nous battons pour ce qui nous semble juste », répond Gilad Grossman.

La question des compensations financières prévues pour les évacués d’Amona reste également en suspens. « Le gouvernement nous a promis des centaines de milliers de shekels [soit des dizaines de milliers d’euros – ndlr] par famille », rappelle Avichai Boaron. Pour l’heure, rien n’a encore été versé. « Ce qu’il faut bien comprendre, c’est que le gouvernement ne finance pas entièrement Amichai », précise-t-il. Une enveloppe de 127 millions de shekels (environ 32 millions d’euros) a été allouée pour la première phase des travaux. Mais « nous devrons acheter des lots et construire nos maisons nous-mêmes, comme n'importe quel citoyen israélien ».

 

https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/280617/amichai-la-nouvelle-colonie-israelienne-contestee

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1 juillet 2017 6 01 /07 /juillet /2017 07:00
Publish Date: 2017/06/29
Opinion: Israel may be able to confiscate our money, but it cannot confiscate our dignity
 
 
 

 

 

By: Issa Qaraqe'

Head of the Commission of Detainees and ex-Detainees Affairs

 

It seems that Israel, having completed its racist colonization project, began to arrange the details of the lives of the Palestinian people on the path of the destruction drama of the Palestinian national identity and of the Palestinian liberation project.

The ratification by the Israeli ministerial committee on June 14, 2017 of the draft law allowing the withholding of Palestinian tax funds under the claim that they are used to fund subsidies for the families of detainees, martyrs, and wounded is more horrifying and immoral than war itself.

Israel is attempting to skin and punish the Palestinian people alive and cloak penal legislations designed to crush the Palestinian people under the veil of law.

The Israeli, American and European objective through this blackmail and pressure on the Palestinian Authority is not financial. It is an attempt to classify the entire Palestinian national as terrorism and crime. The Palestinian resistance against the occupation represented by detainees, martyrs, and wounded is made illegitimate and stripped of its legal and humanitarian foundations, especially that which is rooted in international law that allows any people under occupation to resist this occupation for their freedom and dignity.

Israel is committing a crime against the families of the detainees, the martyrs, and the wounded. It still wants to appear pure, innocent, clean and clean of our blood, suffering, and constant catastrophes caused by the Israeli occupation. If they succeed in doing so and we are forced to bow to Israeli-American pressure, going to the ICC will become ludicrous after we have admitted and accepted that all forms of our resistance to occupation are crimes and terrorism.

Israel wants a coup against Palestinian history and all international resolutions. Israel not only seeks to demolish the character and legal status of the State of Palestine and its detainees and martyrs after the recognition of the Palestinian state by the United Nations and many other countries, but it also seeks the repudiation of its humanitarian and legal responsibilities due to its occupation of Palestine. It seeks to continue its policy of "legal" expansion and settlement annexation of the Palestinian territories and the displacement of the Palestinian people from the political presence.

The intervention began with the Israeli calls to dismantle UNRWA and bury the refugee issue. The intervention reached the Palestinian curriculum and the policy of looting, theft and open piracy of everything in the life of the Palestinians, theft of water, movement, air, freedom of opinion and expression, land and trees, theft of detainees' money in Israeli military courts, and the compensation policy. In occupied Palestine, the victim pays compensation to the murderer and the executioner.

It was an imperative to confront the Israeli aggression against the legal status of Palestinian martyrs, detainees, resistance and struggle. The Israeli actions were fundamentally contrary to the Oslo agreement, which referred all humanitarian and social services to the Palestinian Authority after the occupation left its calamities and tragedies in every Palestinian house. In 1994, Israel passed on to the Palestinian Authority a catastrophically devastated society.

We, Palestinians, should have highlighted the facts about organized and officially supported Jewish Israeli terrorism. This includes the financial, social and legal support of the Israeli government to Jewish murderers and terrorists, their families, and the terrorist organizations that commit murder, burning and kidnapping of our Palestinian people.

We should have highlighted the official Israeli discourse that defends the murderers and the Jewish terrorists who executed dozens of our children and youth. The Israeli government stood up to defend the murderers in the military courts and to grant them amnesty.

We should have gone to the International Court of Justice to solicit an advisory opinion on the legal status of detainees and detainees in accordance with international law and international humanitarian law. This would have helped us improve the legal status of detainees as protected under the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions and to emphasize the legal status of the occupied Palestinian territories. This would have also enabled us to defend and protect the detainees and to strengthen the political status of the State of Palestine.

We should have strengthened our position after the accession of Palestine as a state to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which gave us the right to care and social welfare for our people from the authority that administers the affairs of life in Palestine socially, culturally, academically, economically and economically.

This would have empowered the PA to abide by the Palestinian Basic Law, especially Article 22, which guarantees the care of the families of the martyrs and detainees and the care of the wounded and the affected as well as their health, social and educational care. It would have also empowered the PA to implement the Detainees and Liberators Law No. 19 of 2004 and the amended law No. 1 of 2013 have regulated this.

These issues should have been tackled expediently, especially with regard to the International Criminal Court. Under the umbrella of the ICC, we could have documented the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel as an occupying power, which include torture, forcible transfer of detainees to prisons inside Israel, unfair trials and other grave breaches amounting to war crimes.

We should have demanded compensation for the damage caused to our people by the Israeli occupation and the material and human losses resulting from this occupation, in accordance with the commitments contained in the Geneva Conventions and the Protocols thereto or in accordance with the Rome Statute.

We must demonstrate to those bewitched by Israeli deception that the Israeli government has turned the detainees' into an economic market that generates huge amounts of money for the Israeli treasury, while relieving it of the cost of detaining thousands. The detainees' status quo is made to be fait accompli by Israel, which opened the gate for evasion of the legal and moral responsibility for the lives and economic, education, and social livelihood of the detainees. Israel, on the other hand, is satisfied by the returns of the expenditures of detainees in its prisons. Conveniently, the pragmatic detainees are no longer "terrorists."

Israel wants to transform the living organism in Palestine into a corps, and then into an inanimate object. It seeks to force the Palestinian society to surrender its values and its morals. Iron chains are no longer the only means of restricting people's freedom.

It is known that because of wars, colonialism and armed conflicts, and the horrors and tragedies of mankind, thinkers, jurists and international bodies have developed many norms and humanitarian laws to protect victims of armed conflict. The rules of international humanitarian law are designed to protect civilians and solve humanitarian and social problems resulting from armed conflicts. Thus the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), which was established by an international agreement, acquires the legal right to care for the Palestinian victims of the Israeli occupation.

It is clear to the observers that the arbitrary racist legislations enacted by the Israeli Knesset, which have reached 66 laws and bills since 2014, violate the provisions and norms of humanitarian and international laws and aims to legitimize the control of the Palestinian people and the development of "docilification"  techniques for annexation and control. As a result, the occupation is no longer simply military, but a factor deep in the daily lives of the Palestinian people, so that all people become permanent detainees throughout their days and throughout their lives.

Any country or authority that respects itself, its values ??and its culture in any democratic society that respects the rule of law cannot abandon the families of its detainees, martyrs and wounded. Rather, it would strengthen its role in caring for them and protecting them from need and poverty as victims of occupation.

The responsibility of the Palestinian Authority is to provide social security to the affected families. This applies to all the countries of the world, including occupying Israel, to the families of Jewish criminals. This guarantee falls within the framework of an international legal rule that requires care being given to affected families regardless of the actions of one of its members. Responsibility is individual and not collective lest it will reflect the social stability.

Israel is seeking to destroy the issue of Palestinian citizenship and its citizen's rights. When we ignore our obvious rights because of pressure or fear, we will not expect the other to respect us. For it would set a precedence of the legality of violating our rights

The Israeli goal of pressure to stop the allocation of funds to families of detainees martyrs and wounded is to create a compliant Palestinian society. It aims to deform the values ??and principles of the Palestinian and his or her national concerns to ensure their full and permanent adherence to the occupation.

We have to stand firmly against the policy of demonizing our people and its strugglers, and stand up to the Zionist colonial theory that states: if one can turn the fierce monsters into amusing creatures in the circus and make the elephants stand on their heads, and tame the lions to be acrobats, can also transform humans into docile and abiding creatures deprived of their free will.

Israel can hold our money under power and piracy, but it cannot hold back our human and national dignity, nor can it change our identity from freedom fighters to despicable undignified subordinates.

 

 

 http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=N7E2q8a91193165448aN7E2q8

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1 juillet 2017 6 01 /07 /juillet /2017 06:55

UN secretary-general says ending Israeli occupation is the 'only way' to achieve peace

 
 
 
 
June 30, 2017 2:41 P.M. (Updated: June 30, 2017 6:10 P.M.)
 
 
 
 
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- On the occasion of a United Nations forum, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Thursday for an end to the half-century Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Golan Heights as the “only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”

In a statement transmitted during the two-day forum entitled “Ending the occupation: The path to independence, justice, and peace for Palestine,” Guterres called for direct negotiations to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in accordance with international law.

Highlighting the severe humanitarian toll the occupation has taken on Palestinians, Guterres lamented the fact that “generations of Palestinians have grown up in crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.”

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Muhammad, who attended the forum, also denounced the impact of the international community’s inaction on Palestinians.

“I understand the deep sense of despair of the Palestinian people,” she said. “For far too long, the international community has failed to find a just and lasting solution to their displacement.”

“The lives of generations of Palestinians and Israelis have been confined by a conflict that has shaped the physical and human landscape with (Israeli) concrete walls, checkpoints, and watchtowers, all under a heavy atmosphere of fear, mutual distrust and despair,” Muhammad added.

“Some think that the situation can be managed. They are all wrong. It must be resolved,” she stressed, reiterating the UN’s position that only a two-state solution could successfully end the conflict.

While the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the international community do not recognize the legality of the occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank since 1967, many Palestinians consider that all historic Palestine has been occupied since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Guterres added in his statement that a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would provide one less pretext for violence and extremism in the Middle East, and would “open the doors to cooperation, security, prosperity and human rights for all.”

The forum, which brought together a number of Israeli and Palestinian officials, as well as civil society representatives, sparked outrage among Israelis over comments made by Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat.

Responding to a question by a Jerusalem Post journalist over official Israeli allegations that some of the Palestinian NGOs present at the forum -- including al-Haq and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights -- had coordinated with the Hamas movement and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Erekat said that the two political movements “are not terrorist organizations.”

The PFLP and Hamas are considered terrorist organizations by the United States, Canada, the European Union and Israel, despite their popularity among Palestinians as resistance movements against the occupation.

Hamas’ position as the de facto ruling party in the Gaza Strip has also made it difficult for organizations based in the besieged coastal enclave, such as Al Mezan, to avoid interacting with the movement.

“We are a people who strive to achieve our independence, and our choice in the PLO is to achieve peace peacefully through negotiations,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Erekat as saying.

Erekat went on to slam Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for making the implementation of a possible two-state solution impossible, notably through Israel’s continuous expansion of illegal settlements across the occupied Palestinian territory.

"The Israeli government headed by Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to replace the two-state solution with one state, two systems: apartheid. Ignoring facts does not mean they don’t exist,” Erekat said. “(Netanyahu) says: ‘I will demolish your home, I will build more settlements, I will humiliate you, but you have to wake up in the morning and pray to God and thank him that you are under our occupation.'”

While the PA and members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, Israeli leaders have instead shifted further to the right, with more than 50 percent of the ministers in the current Israeli government publicly stating their opposition to a Palestinian state.

A growing number of pro-Palestinian activists have also criticized a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- establishing a Palestinian state along 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital -- as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace given the existing political context, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.

 
 
 
 
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1 juillet 2017 6 01 /07 /juillet /2017 06:51
Le Centre de la paix célèbre la fête avec les enfants de Gaza
 
 

Ziad Medoukh, vendredi 30 juin 2017

Malgré une situation explosive dans la bande de Gaza, le Centre de la paix poursuit ses activités et ses actions pour les enfants de Gaza.

Le jeudi 29 juin 2017, et pour participer avec les enfants à célébrer la fête, et en coopération avec plusieurs associations et structures enfantines dans la bande de Gaza, le Centre de la paix et son équipe de soutien psychologique ont proposé des activités et des animations aux enfants de Gaza.

L’équipe formée au Centre en septembre 2014, et qui s’occupe de différents centres d’accueil de la bande de Gaza, leur a proposé plusieurs activités.

Ces activités variées qui se sont déroulées dans les rues et quelques structures enfantines de Gaza, avec des jouets, des animations et des jeux, ont retenu l’attention des enfants.

Le Centre de la paix veut rendre le sourire aux enfants de Gaza traumatisés, trois ans après la dernière offensive israélienne en été 2014, et célébrer la fête avec ces enfants en souffrance permenente à cause de la situation très difficile dans cette région sous blocus.

Les enfants présents qui ont suivi avec beaucoup d’intérêt les différentes activités proposées par les jeunes du Centre, ont fortement apprécié cette initiative du Centre de la paix. Ils ont oublié leur timidité et se sont bien intégrés dans le groupe.

Les familles ont beaucoup apprécié l’initiative du Centre, ils ont remercié toute l’équipe et les animateurs pour leurs efforts.

Cette nouvelle activité du Centre de la paix entre dans le cadre de la troisième partie du programme de soutien psychologique commencé en septembre 2014 pour les enfants traumatisés de différentes offensives israéliennes contre la bande de Gaza.

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

http://www.france-palestine.org/Le-Centre-de-la-paix-celebre-la-fete-avec-les-enfants-de-Gaza

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1 juillet 2017 6 01 /07 /juillet /2017 06:48
Publish Date: 2017/06/30
Israeli forces detain three Palestinians, assault girl in West Bank
 
 
 

JENIN, June 30, 2017 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Friday and Thursday night detained at least three Palestinians and assaulted a girl mostly during raids across the West Bank, said security sources.

Israeli forces raided Fandaqumiya village, south of Jenin, detaining a Palestinian who works as a police officer in Ramallah.

They also conducted a raid into Kafr Ra'I village, southwest of Jenin, where they detained a Palestinian after storming his family home.

Elsewhere in the northern West Bank, forces ransacked and wreaked havoc into several homes during an overnight raid into Kafr Qalil village, south of Nablus.

Another Palestinian was handcuffed and detained by Israeli soldiers from the old city of Hebron in the southern West Bank purportedly for possessing a knife.

This came several hours after soldiers physically assaulted a 17-year-old Palestinian girl, causing bruises across her body.

The girl was reportedly assaulted after she and her friends were playing with a laser pointer in the vicinity of her family home. She was rushed into a public hospital in Hebron for treatment.

K.F.

http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=SM78vua91199827719aSM78vu

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1 juillet 2017 6 01 /07 /juillet /2017 06:42

We will continue: Al Jazeera official to Anadolu Agency

 
 

Arab world’s best known news channel won’t bow to pressure to change editorial line, acting head of Al Jazeera English says

 

By Ahmed Yusuf and Ali Abo Rezeg

DOHA, Qatar

Giles Trendle, acting managing director of Doha-based Al Jazeera’s English-language news channel, spoke to Anadolu Agency about mounting pressure on Qatar -- which remains embroiled in a weeks-long political dispute with several fellow Arab states -- to close the prominent news network.

The following is the text of the interview:

Anadolu Agency: Where does Al Jazeera stand in this crisis pitting Qatar against a handful of fellow Arab states?

Giles Trendle: We understand from the list that has been reported that the closure of Al Jazeera is one of the demands. But as Al Jazeera, we are committed to continuing our bold and compelling journalism.

We are committed to reporting frankly and fairly around the world; we are committed to our editorial mission.

AA: Since 2011, Al Jazeera has been subjected to all sorts of campaigns: your journalists have been imprisoned, your offices shut, your websites blocked. At the same time, other media organizations -- such as Al-Arabiya and Sky news Arabiya -- have continued their work unmolested. Why is there all this pressure on Al-Jazeera specifically?

GT: Al Jazeera has had tough experiences even before 2011. We have had our offices closed and journalists imprisoned and killed even before that.

Since 2011, Al Jazeera has reported on the so-called Arab Spring and the hopes and dreams of a new generation. It has become a platform for the voices of the man and woman on the street.

I think there are some regimes and governments in the region who feel threatened by this change and the hopes and idealism -- and the optimism -- of this new generation.

I think that’s one of the reasons why Al Jazeera is in the spotlight and its closure on the list of demands.

AA: There have been accusations that Al Jazeera incited people to rebel against their rulers and take to the streets in 2011. What’s your response to such accusations?

GT: Al Jazeera reported what was happening; it didn’t incite what was happening -- that’s a very critical difference. The events, or revolutions, or uprising were spontaneous. We followed and covered these protests. We didn’t lead them or incite them.

AA: There are also accusations that Al Jazeera supports Daesh and Al-Qaeda. How would you refute such allegations?

GT: Firstly, our policy is to report accurately, comprehensively and fairly -- this is our editorial policy.

We have had many accusations of being pro-Daesh, pro-Al-Qaeda, pro-Hezbollah, pro-Hamas, pro-Muslim Brotherhood, pro-Israel, pro-America. I would have to be a magician if I was pro all these things at the same time.

All I will say is that all our content is online and anyone can go to our website -- or watch our television -- and judge for themselves. I challenge anyone to find any report or program that is “pro” anyone.

These accusations are a red herring; they are not the real issue.

AA: In most of the countries now arrayed against Qatar, Al Jazeera’s offices have either been closed or its reporters and staff asked to leave. Is this simply a reaction to Qatar’s regional policies, or an attempt to silence Al Jazeera?

GT: There have been times in the past where we have had offices closed in other countries in the Arab Arab world; we have had such experience before. But we are in a new situation now.

We had an office closed in Saudi Arabia and an office closed in Jordan; we have had our [broadcasting] signal and websites blocked…

This is draconian; a very tough measure, as George Orwell said. They are tough and autocratic.

AA: The demand for Al Jazeera’s closure is seen by some observers as an attempt to prevent the masses from accessing information. How do you ensure that peoples’ right to information is respected?

GT: We see calls to close Al Jazeera as an attempt to muzzle the media and freedom of expression. We condemn measures like closing offices, blocking websites and jamming TVs. We think they are unjustified.

We call on all governments to respect the role of the journalist and allow them to do their jobs without intimidation. We are committed to continuing our editorial mission at Al Jazeera.

AA: Three weeks into this crisis, you as a journalist, and as director of such an important media organization, how do you see this all ending?

GT: I will leave the crisis for the politicians… As for Al Jazeera, we will continue; we are committed to continuing.

We don’t believe anyone has the right to prevent freedom of expression and freedom of speech. We don’t recognize that any country has the right to tell another country to stop [broadcasting]. For example, it is a bit like Germany telling Britain to stop the BBC.

We don’t recognize this right as we can’t imagine the European Union telling Turkey to close Anadolu Agency.

AA: Through all this, Turkey has largely stood by Qatar by sending needed commodities and in other ways. How do you, as a journalist, assess Turkey’s role in the crisis?

GT: I am enjoying Turkish milk and Turkish products… I think the Turkish foreign minister has visited the countries [involved in the crisis] and has adopted a very understanding and balanced position…

Turkey’s position is balanced if you compare it to some other countries. For example, in America, there is confusion, when Mr. [U.S. President Donald] Trump says something and Mr. [U.S. Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson says another thing.

It is a very sensitive region; a very sensitive situation. It needs understanding and calm and I think Turkey has been showing that.

AA: There have been demands for the closure of other media outlets along with Al Jazeera. What is the common denominator between them?

GT: It was not just Al Jazeera. There were other websites -- like Arabi al-Jadeed and Arabi 21, Rassd, the Middle East Eye -- but Al Jazeera topped the list of demands.

Any attempt to shut down media without a good justification threatens freedom of expression. Open media is a pillar of pluralistic, democratic society; it is a pillar of a healthy society.

AA: Will Al Jazeera dilute its position or editorial line as a result of this crisis? Is it prepared to make any concessions?

GT: We will continue to perform our role as journalists, which is to report truthfully and fairly and to put tough questions to the centers of power.

We cannot dilute this role just because certain governments want us to do so.

 

 

http://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/we-will-continue-al-jazeera-official-to-anadolu-agency/850211

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