The head of the International Red Cross, Peter Mauer, after a visit to
Yemen said entrenched poverty, months of intensified warfare and limits
on imports because of an international embargo have contributed to
"The images I have from Sanaa and Aden remind of what I have seen in
Syria," said Maurer. "So Yemen after five months looks like Syria after
The World Health Organization reported on August 17 that more than
4,300 people have been killed and over 22,000 injured in Yemen, since
March 19. An estimated 1.3 million people have been displaced by
British Dr. Natalie Roberts who is in Yemen with
has worked in conflict zones before. But she says Yemen's war
zone is unlike anything she has seen elsewhere. "What's really
surprising to me here is that I've never seen so few [aid workers and
journalists] on the ground. Syria, when I was there, was counted as the
most dangerous conflict in the world — but Yemen? I just haven't met
Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world, and has been
politically unstable since the Arab Spring. But civilian casualties
increased dramatically starting March 26 when the United States
green-lighted a Saudi-led military coalition (with American made
fighter jets and weaponry). They began bombing towns and villages
to try to defeat a rebel force known as the Houthis under the name
Operation Decisive Storm. (What has been decisive is the horrendous
cost to civilians.)
United Nations humanitarian chief, Stephen O’Brien, told the Security
Council that “the scale of human suffering is almost incomprehensible.”
Four out of five Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance, and
nearly 1.5 million people are internally displaced.
ssued last August 18, The United Nations Children's Rights
& Emergency Relief Organization, UNICEF, reported as many as eight
children are being killed or maimed every day in Yemen. Nearly 400
children have been killed and over 600 injured. Aid workers have
previously estimated that a third of all fighters sucked into the
country’s war are under 18.
Yemen is now one of the world’s most acute humanitarian catastrophes,
with 80 percent of its 25 million population in dire need of food and
other emergency relief. Essential services including access to clean
water and electricity are cut off and food prices have sky-rocketed.
Nevertheless, Yemen's war still gets limited attention from an
international media preoccupied with the threat from Islamic State’s
advances in Syria and Iraq.
“Yemen is the Mexico (Dore note: I would have analogized Haiti) of the
[Arabian] Gulf,” said Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni expert with the
Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. “It’s not on the border of
Israel and our blood type is not oil+, so nobody cares what’s happening
The conflict has left Yemen on the brink of a famine. Millions of
women and children are facing possible starvation in Yemen, Ertharin
Cousin, Executive Director of the UN's World Food Program said. WFP is
the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Even
before this crisis began, Yemen had one of the highest malnutrition
rates in the entire world according to Cousin.
“Right now, the conflict-driven convergence between the lack of staple
food, access to clean water, and a diminished fuel supply create the
dawn of a perfect storm for the most vulnerable Yemeni people,” said
WFP Executive Director Cousin.
WFP estimates that the number of 'food insecure' people in Yemen is now
close to 13 million, including 6 million who are severely food insecure
and in urgent need of external assistance – that is one in five of the
More than 1.2 million children are suffering from moderate acute
malnutrition and over half a million children are severely
malnourished. “The damage to Yemen’s next generation may become
irreversible if we don’t reach children quickly with the right food at
the right time. We must act now before it is too late,” said Cousin.
The detailed report highlights the impact of unlawful coalition
airstrikes in densely populated residential neighborhoods, and attacks
by Huthi loyalists and anti-Huthi armed groups operating on the ground,
who have carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks in
“The report depicts in harrowing detail the gruesome and bloody trail
of death and destruction in Ta’iz and Aden from unlawful attacks, which
may amount to war crimes, by all parties.”
Amnesty International investigated eight airstrikes by the (American
supported) Saudi Arabia-led coalition which killed at least 141
civilians and injured 101 others, mostly women and children, during a
research mission to Yemen in June and July 2015. The evidence gathered
reveals a pattern of strikes targeting heavily populated areas
including civilian homes, a school, a market and a mosque. In the
majority of cases no military target could be located nearby.
“Coalition forces have blatantly failed to take necessary precautions
to minimize civilian casualties, an obligation under international
humanitarian law. Indiscriminate attacks that result in death or injury
to civilians amount to war crimes,” said Donatella Rovera, Senior
Crisis Response Advisor at Amnesty International.
Fighters from both parties routinely used imprecise weapons including
rockets, mortars and artillery fire in densely populated residential
areas. Such indiscriminate attacks may amount to war crimes.
The Obama administration has supplied weapons to Saudi Arabia and
provided the Arab coalition fighting the Houthis with intelligence and
logistical support. But American as well as British diplomats have been
encouraging the combatants to make political concessions, believing
neither side is likely to prevail in the war, according to (unnamed)
An escalation of the war would benefit Al Qaeda’s powerful franchise,
al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) which has seized territory
during the conflict and has remained largely unchallenged amid the
The Islamic State (IS) has claimed recent, bloody suicide bombings in
Houthi mosques and Sana’a when it once had no known presence in the
All the while the war is tearing at the fabric of Yemeni society.
wounds that may never be healed at the war’s end and threatening
Yemen’s future unity.
My visit, coming after two years of seeking a journalist’s visa to
report from Iran, represented something special: I was the first
journalist from a Jewish, pro-Israel (if not always pro-Israel
government) publication to be granted a journalist’s visa since the
1979 Revolution. Whether this was a reflection of increased openness by
the government I cannot say. My visa came only after a former
representative of Iran’s Jewish community in the country’s parliament
wrote a letter on my behalf.
But for me, my visit was special for another reason. I had lived in
Iran for almost two years in the late 1970s, just before the revolution.
Then, the discontent was eruptive and in the open. Student strikes in
the major universities went on for weeks. The rampant corruption under
the shah constantly stared Iranians, and visitors, in the face. The
fear of intelligence agents was thick in the air.
The Iranian Jewish community, whose members are today free to stay in
the country or emigrate, currently numbers anywhere from 9,000 to
20,000, depending on whom you talk to, and down from 80,000 to 100,000
before the revolution. These Jews — along with Christians and
Zoroastrians — are tolerated and protected under Iranian law, but
subject to a number of discriminatory laws and practices that limit
their opportunities for work in senior government posts and in other
ways. But they do not limit their opportunities in business.
The Jews, are basically well-protected second-class citizens — a
broadly prosperous, largely middle-class community whose members have
no hesitation about walking down the streets of Tehran wearing
But there is a catch. The government makes a rigid distinction between
hostility to “the Zionist entity” and respect for followers of Judaism.
Though I had to work with a government fixer and translator, I decided
which people I wanted to interview and what I would ask them. Far from
the stereotype of a fascist Islamic state, I found a dynamic
push-and-pull between a theocratic government and its often reluctant
and resisting people.
During the course of my conversations with several senior ayatollahs
and prominent political and government officials, it became clear that
there is high-placed dissent to the official line against Israel. No
one had anything warm to say about the Jewish state. But pressed as to
whether it was Israel’s policies or its very existence to which they
objected, several were adamant: It’s Israel’s policies. Others,
notwithstanding their ideological objection to a Jewish state, made it
clear they would accept a two-state solution to Israel’s conflict with
the Palestinians if the Palestinians were to negotiate one and approve
it in a referendum.
Ordinary Iranians with whom I spoke have no interest at all in
attacking Israel; their concern is with their own sense of isolation
and economic struggle.
In Iran today, freedom of the press remains a dream. But freedom of
tongue has been set loose. I was repeatedly struck by the willingness
of Iranians to offer sharp, even withering criticisms of their
government on the record, and their readiness sometimes even to be
filmed doing so.
“The people of Iran want in some way to show the world that what’s
going on in the last years is not the will of the Iranian people but of
the Iranian government,” Nader Qaderi told me as I filmed him with my
phone outside his butcher shop in North Tehran’s Tajrish Market. A
small crowd looked on as we talked. “We have no hostility against
Israel,” he stressed.
I passed through a security checkpoint in Tehran’s domestic air
terminal and showed my U.S. passport to a guard who told me, “More of
you should come!” It occurred to me when I entered the vast, monumental
burial site of Khomeini and, on being told I was an American Jew, the
Revolutionary Guard on duty waved me through with a huge grin, allowing
me to enter with my camera, against the rules. One of his comrades
posed happily for a photo with me.
Underneath the superstructure of Iran’s theocracy, a panoply of
activists, thinkers and ordinary citizens are struggling to understand
the world around them, from which they have been largely isolated —
partly by international sanctions and, more importantly, by a
government monopoly over information that seems to work, however
imperfectly. Television, where most Iranians get their news, is under
the control of an office that answers only to the supreme leader. And
while satellite dishes abound in Tehran’s more affluent neighborhoods,
the government does all it can to block them. Periodically, it also
cracks down on the illegal dishes, imposing fines and confiscating the
The Internet, another potential information source, is stringently
censored. (Our website, forward.com , is one of many blocked.) While
tech-savvy young people devise workarounds, the effort is time
consuming and only for the most motivated. This leads to a paradox: In
contrast to Americans, who are often uninformed, Iranians are very much
up on the news, but often profoundly misinformed, especially about the
outside world. But they are curious.
Curiously enough, it was among some of Iran’s most senior ayatollahs
that I found indications of serious debate — or at least divergences
from Khamenei’s official position.
Ayatollah Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad, a senior cleric with family ties to
some of Iran’s most prominent political figures, singled out Israel’s
policies, not its existence, as his problem with the Jewish state,
citing purported violations of international law rather than religious
“What I have against Israel is its policies against humanitarian law,”
he told me during a long interview at his home in Tehran. “That’s it.
Whenever it’s about international law, I stand up and raise my voice
against that violation. And many people think like me. It’s their
violations of the Geneva conventions.”
Meanwhile, in the conservative holy city of Qom, I spoke with two of Iran’s handful of living grand ayatollahs.
One of these is Grand Ayatollah Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardebili, 89, a close friend, confidant and longtime supporter of Khomeini.
Yet, Ardebili is today a supporter of the reformist movement that
helped bring Rouhani to power. Still, during an audience in his home,
Ardebili said little that would indicate a moderating stance on Israel
from a reformist champion.
“Islam’s point of view regarding the Jewish nation is very high,” he
said, speaking through his son, Seyed Masoud Moosavi Karimi, a noted
academic, who translated. “We learn from the Quran that Jews are as
respected as Muslims.”
But, responding specifically to my question about Israel and whether it
was Israel’s policies or its actual existence to which he objected,
Ardebili said, “We believe that the State of Israel must be changed,
corrected and improved. And if that is not possible, and if the nature
of the state does not allow for improvement, then the state must be
The only way to achieve peace, he explained, was for the Israelis “to
stop their cruelty against Palestinians.” Israel, he said, “kills
children and proudly defends killing them.”
I asked Ardebili in what instance Israel had proudly defended killing
children. Karimi quickly explained that his father meant that Israel
“defends the policies behind this killing.”
Grand Ayatollah Yousef Saanei who was one of Khomeini’s prize students,
is considered a reformist — in fact, he is often referred to as “the
spiritual father” of Iran’s Green Movement.
On the question of whether Israel deserved annihilation, Saanei was
adamant. “The idea that Israel should be destroyed is Ahmadinejad’s,”
he said. “What Israel should do is change its policies…. It’s
impossible to destroy a country.”
Mohammad Hassan Asafari is today the chairman of the Iranian
Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.
Asafari, has a reputation as a hard-liner. But he did not bat an
eyelash when I explained that I was in Iran on behalf of a prominent
American Jewish publication.
“We pay much respect to the Jewish people of the world,” he told me.
“We have no problem with Jews. The belief that the Jewish community has
is the same as ours: one God. The problem is the occupying Zionist
regime, which is dominating and displacing the native people.”
Unlike some of the others, Asafari was barely more upbeat about the prospects for improved relations with Washington.
Like many opposed to reform, Asafari cited a longstanding list of
grievances towards America. There was the CIA’s role in ousting Iran’s
democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossedegh, and
restoring the Shah to power in 1953—for many Iranians, something akin
to the Original Sin.
After that, there was America’s support for Iraq during Iran’s
eight-year war with that country. In 1988, Asafari recalled, the U.S.S.
Vincennes, an American battleship in the Persian Gulf, shot down an
Iran Air civilian commercial plane flying in Iranian airspace, killing
all 290 passengers and crew on board, including 66 children.
“We never have had hostility to Americans,” he said, “But always
America has had bad intentions toward us.” Still, he added, “If the
Americans will be faithful to the terms of the [nuclear] deal, this
could be a first step” toward a broader relationship.
The Moral Responsibility That Rivlin Accepts
and Netanyahu Denies
After a Palestinian baby is burned,
Netanyahu lies about Israeli incitement - including his own.
(Peter Beinart Opinion, Haaretz, 8/5/15)
note: free registration required
President Reuven Rivlin visits Ahmed Dawabsha on Friday, July 31, 2015.
Dawabsha was badly burned after Jewish terrorists burned the house in which he lived
in the village of Duma, near Nablus in the West Bank. (Mark Neyman/GPO)
Below excerpt is primarily from Beinart
opinion piece and augmented with Rivlin details and quotes from
headlined stories posted below.
What’s the difference between Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, and
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu? Rivlin can feel shame. “I
visited the family in Tel Hashomer hospital,” said Rivlin after Jews
burned Palestinian infant Ali Dawabsheh to death last week* in the West
Bank. “I visited, silently, ashamed.”
* subsequent to this article Ali Dawabsheh's father died while his mother remains on life support.
The president spoke at an anti-violence rally in Jerusalem and warned
that “flames of hatred” were consuming Israel and that Jewish
extremists must be met head-on.
“We are in the middle of a great fracture,” Rivlin stated.
“Everything’s possible,” he answered, when asked if he felt Israel
could witness another political assassination.
“Today there are those who hallucinate that a democratic and Jewish state is only democratic for the Jews,” he warned.
“Terror is terror is terror, and it doesn’t matter what nationality
that terror belongs to. There is difficulty in combating the type of
terror that is perpetrated by groups of radical Jews. It’s terror from
within and it is difficult to bring these perpetrators to justice; we
need to create tools in order to combat this style of terrorism.”
“Within this country, we tolerate the targeting of our citizens — those
who are not Jews, [those who are] Arabs, Christians or Muslims. This
may lead us to a situation where we can lose everything. We need to
deal with this situation where children are killed, or where we allow
the blood of others to be spilled, or where you have people who say ‘my
religious beliefs command of me to burn, shatter and destroy.’ We must
deal with terrorism as terrorism, whether it’s Arab terror or Jewish
terror,” Rivlin told Walla News.
In response to Rivlin lashing out
against the perpetrators of the terrorist attack on the Dawabsheh home,
the President received death threats, some of whom called him a traitor.
President Rivlin: “The perpetrators of these acts hurt us more than
anyone else. This way they will bring our destruction upon us. They are
inhuman, and if they are doing this because they think it’s their
mission — then we’re in a state of madness. It’s not important if the
act of terrorism was done by Jews, Arabs, Christians or Muslims. We
need to fight terrorism because it eats away at the good within us.”
“If we’re all silent about these things, we’re all complicit."
“Every society has extremist fringes, but today we have to ask: What is
it about the public atmosphere that allows extremism and extremists to
walk in confidence, in broad daylight? What is it that has enabled
these weeds to threaten the safety of the entire garden of flowers?”
“Citizens of Israel, a Jewish and democratic Israel, democratic and Jewish Israel, needs a wake-up call today,” he urged.
In other words, says Peter Beinhardt in his Haaretz opinion piece,
Rivlin acknowledged that he is implicated in Dawabsheh’s death, that in
Rabbi Heschel’s famous words, “Few are guilty, but all are responsible.”
Netanyahu did almost exactly the opposite. Yes, he called the murders
“terrorism.” But in the very next sentence, he boasted that, “The State
of Israel takes a strong line against terrorism regardless of who the
perpetrators are.” That’s a lie. When Palestinians murdered members of
the Jewish Fogel family in 2011, the Israel Defense Forces quarantined
the entire city of Nablus and reportedly interrogated every man in the
nearby village of Awarta. When Israel caught the murderers, it approved
the demolition of their homes.
Israel never responds to Jewish
terrorism that way. In the past, in fact, it has barely responded at
all. According to the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, Palestinians
filed 150 complaints against settlers with the Judea and Samaria (West
Bank) police between 2013 and 2014. Only two even resulted in
After that first self-congratulatory lie, Netanyahu soon told another.
“What distinguishes us from our neighbors,” he declared, “is that we
denounce and condemn murderers in our midst and pursue them until the
end, while they name public squares after child murderers.”
Evidently Netanyahu is unfamiliar with David Raziel, a member of the
Irgun who in 1938 placed a bomb in Haifa’s Arab market, killing 21 and
injuring more than 50. There are streets named for Raziel in Jerusalem,
Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Ramat Hasharon, Tirat Karmel, Tiberias, Ramla,
Beersheva, Kefar Sava and Haifa itself. Raziel’s face also adorns an
Israeli postage stamp. In the same year Raziel committed his act of
terrorism, another Irgun member, Shlomo Ben-Yosef, threw a hand grenade
at an Arab bus travelling between Tiberias and Rosh Pina, hoping to
make it crash. There are streets named for Ben-Yosef in Tel Aviv,
Jerusalem, Bnai Brak, Be’er Yaakov and Ramat Gan. He’s on a postage
I’m not saying this to excuse Palestinians who celebrate murder.
Venerating terrorists who intentionally kill Israelis, as Palestinian
leaders too often do, is always wrong. Promoting hatred of Jews, as
Palestinian leaders too often do, is always wrong.
But there’s something sickening about Netanyahu applauding his
government for not inciting acts of violence when Israelis have just
burned a Palestinian baby to death.
Not only sickening, but factually wrong. According to a poll of Jewish
Israeli teenagers in June, forty-five percent said they would not study
in class with an Arab. Forty-eight percent of those who identified as
“right-wing” expressed sympathy for “price tag” attacks* against
* “price tag” attack is when Israeli
settlers seek retaliation for government demolitions of settlements by
committing acts of violence against Palestinians.
Revlin related headlines:
Does Netanyahu really believe his government did nothing to “incite”
these hateful views? Is it mere coincidence that Israel’s justice
minister, Ayelet Shaked, last year posted an article on Facebook saying
Israel was at war with “the Palestinian people” and calling Palestinian
children “little snakes.” Or that in 2013, Israel’s current education
minister, Naftali Bennett, boasted that “I have killed lots of Arabs in
my life – and there is no problem with that.”
Or that Israel’s current deputy defense minister, Eli Ben Dahan, said Palestinians “are like animals, they aren’t human.”
Or that in March, Israel’s then foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman
said “we need to pick up an ax and cut off” the heads of Palestinian
citizens who are disloyal to Israel.
And is it any coincidence that Netanyahu himself, in his heftiest book,
A Durable Peace, favorably quotes former British Colonel Richard
Meinertzhagen as saying that “The Arab is a poor fighter, though an
[sic] adept at looting, sabotage and murder.” Or that as finance
minister in 2007, Netanyahu boasted that his social welfare cuts had
reduced the birthrate among Israel’s Palestinian citizens. Or that this
year he helped secure reelection by warning that “Arab voters are
coming out in droves.”
A year ago, Rivlin called racism “a terrible evil and a disgrace to
Israeli life.” That evil manifested itself last week in a small
Palestinian town in the West Bank but the disgrace starts at the very
Rivlin, in attack on Netanyahu: ‘Israel has no leaders'
(Times of Israel staff, 8/8/15)
Rivlin’s security calls police over death threats
President faces deluge of criticism after expressing ‘shame’
over killing of Palestinian baby in West Bank
(Josefin Dolsten, Times of Israel, 8/2/15)
Rivlin: Another political murder ‘possible,’ but I have no fear
In wake of death threats against him following condemnation of Duma attack, president says he will not be intimidated
(Times of Israel staff, 8/7/15)
A burned infant was only a matter of time
in view of policy to not enforce law on violent settlers
Photographs of Ali Saad Dawabsha, the Palestinian baby in an overnight arson attack,
are laid out on the floor of his family home, Douma, West Bank, July 31, 2015.
(photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org
combined excerpt from Israeli human rights
NGO B'Tselem (see link above photo)
and headlined stories below:
The killing of a one and a half year old
infant, 'Ali Sa'ed Dawabshe, and the critical injuries to his mother
Riham, and his father Sa'ed (on life support) and his toddler brother
'Ahmed, after a suspected arson attack by Israeli civilians burned
their home, was only a matter of time. This, due to the authorities'
policy to avoid enforcing the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians and
their property. This policy creates impunity for hate crimes, and
encourages assailants to continue, leading to this morning's horrific
In recent years, Israeli civilians set fire to dozens of Palestinian
homes, mosques, businesses, agricultural land and vehicles in the West
Bank. The vast majority of these cases were never solved, and in many
of them the Israeli Police did not even bother take elementary
According to the UN, at least 120 attacks by Israeli settlers have been
documented in the occupied West Bank since the start of 2015.
A recent report by Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organisation,
showed that more than 92.6 percent of complaints Palestinians lodge
with the Israeli police go without charges being filed.
The indictment rate for such crimes is also extremely low: Israeli
human rights NGO Yesh Din has reported that a survey of Samaria and
Judea District Police files investigating attacks against Palestinians
and/or their property by Israeli civilians showed that between 2005 and
2014, only 7.4 percent of such cases ended with indictments.
Critics say Israel doesn't enforce the law when it comes to settlers
because of the political power that the settlers wield in parliament
and because they are still perceived in some circles as Zionist
pioneers who are settling the land like the vanguards who established
the Jewish state. (All Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East
Jerusalem violate international law, according to the U.N. Security
Council, even those permitted by Israeli law.)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called
the arson “an act of terrorism in every respect.The State of Israel
takes a strong line against terrorism regardless of who the
Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party
declared: "This is murder. Terror is terror is terror.” Justice
Minister Ayelet Shaked, also of Jewish Home, also referred to terrorism
and claimed that in an event such as this, “there is no Jewish or Arab,
Left or Right,” just “a battle between the forces of light and
By and large, these responses sing from the same hymn sheet: all are
big on condemnation, but most utterly fail to acknowledge the endemic
nature of settler violence. Lacking, too, is any word on incitement by
Israeli politicians. Bennett’s calls to annex the West Bank to Israel,
coupled with his infamous statement about having personally killed many
Arabs, sit rather awkwardly with his announcement this morning. Shaked,
for her part, posted a notorious Facebook update during last summer’s
Gaza war in which she called Palestinians “snakes” and suggested that
Palestinian mothers and their houses “must go… Otherwise they will
raise other little snakes there.”
The only statements from Jewish Israeli politicians that mention the
government and army’s systemic failures in stemming Jewish terrorism
have come from either Meretz or the Joint List.
In response to the murder, Meretz head Zehava Galon wrote that “the
writing was on the wall” and criticized the right-wing leadership for
being blind to the “direct line” between their failure to properly
enforce the law in the West Bank and incidents such as last night’s
lethal attack. She urged the arrest of not only the perpetrators but
also the rabbis she said were responsible for inciting them and
legitimizing such attacks.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said
"continued failures to effectively address impunity for repeated acts
of settler violence have led to another horrific incident involving the
death of an innocent life," his spokesman told reporters. "This must
According to the statement, “the absence of a political process and
Israel’s illegal settlement policy, as well as the harsh and
unnecessary practice of demolishing Palestinian houses, have given rise
to violent extremism on both sides. This presents a further threat to
the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for statehood as
well as to the security of the people of Israel.”
The fact that the Samaria and Judea (SHAI) Police and other law
enforcement bodies have failed to solve these attacks isn't fate.
Rather, it is the result of a policy expressed throughout all levels of
the law enforcement system, in particular the political echelons, up to
and including the Prime Minister. In light of this, official
condemnations of this attack are empty rhetoric as long as politicians
continue their policy of avoiding enforcement of the law on Israelis
who harm Palestinians, and do not deal with the public climate and the
incitement which serve is backdrop to these acts.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement “We hold
the Israeli Government fully responsible for [last night’s
events]...Over a year ago President Abbas requested international
protection for Palestinians, a call that has been ignored so far. Today
we can see the consequences... This is a direct consequence of decades
of impunity given by the Israeli government to settler terrorism. This
is the consequence of a culture of hate funded and incentivized by the
Israeli government and the impunity granted by the international
community...Since 2004, over 11,000
settler attacks have taken place against Palestinian homes, cars, churches, mosques, trees and others with full impunity.”
The scale of such attacks indicates the extent to which settler
violence is part of the culture of the West Bank and not merely an
issue of “bad apples.”
The culture of settler impunity is one
that human rights activists have challenged for years — in vain. The
entire system of governance in the West Bank is designed to protect
Jewish settlers and leave Palestinians vulnerable. The settlements have
security systems and armed guards, while Palestinian villagers are not
only physically unprotected but also forbidden to own weapons. A
Palestinian who defends his property is liable to be arrested by
soldiers and detained for weeks or months in a military prison.
The above was excerpted from the B'Tselem press release and the headlined stories below
Several years ago, writer Lisa Goldman visited a Palestinian village in
Area B of the West Bank, where some of the local men decided to sleep
in their family olive groves after settlers torched several of their
trees. Settlers carrying jerrycans of kerosene returned, saw the
village men waiting for them and attacked them. The Palestinians fought
back, using their fists. To prove they were unarmed, they showed us
photos of the altercation. When soldiers arrived, they arrested the
Palestinians and sent the settlers home.
While Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to Israeli military
law, under which many are routinely imprisoned on the basis of flimsy
evidence, Israeli settlers in the same territory are subject to Israeli
civil law and the protections it offers. Although Palestinian Authority
security forces refrain from protecting Palestinians from Israeli
settlers or soldiers, the Israeli military is not viewed as a protector
for Palestinians even when settlers are breaking Israeli law.
Polls show that a majority of Israelis do not see Palestinians as
potential neighbors with whom they are prepared to share their streets
or apartment buildings. And their failure to connect the ever-expanding
settlement enterprise with the violence being visited on the
Palestinians has cultivated the climate of impunity now under
In light of this, the clock is ticking in the countdown to the next arson attack, and the one after.
West Bank murder:
Leaders fail to address nature of settler violence
The murder of a
Palestinian baby has provoked condemnation from Israeli leaders across
the political spectrum. Yet the harsh rhetoric masks a consistent
failure by the Israeli establishment to understand the endemic nature
of this kind of violence.
(Natasha Roth, 972.mag, 7/31/15)
Suspected Jewish extremists burn Palestinian child to death
(Mohammed Daraghmeh and Tia Goldenberg, AP, 7/31/15)
West Bank attack puts Israel’s settlement policy in the spotlight
Analysis: The murder of baby Ali Saad Dawabsha
highlights the occupation’s impunity for settler violence
(Lisa Goldman, Al Jazeera, 7/31/15)
Anger, grief as arson blamed on Israeli settlers
kills West Bank infant
Protests erupt across Palestinian territories after attack in Duma leaves child dead, young family struggling to survive
(Dalia Hatuqa, Al Jazeera, 7/31/15)
Palestinian toddler killed in settler price-tag attack
Allison Deger, Mondoweiss, 7/31/15)
Palestinian baby burned to death in settler attack
(Al Jazeera.net, 7/31/15)
Killing Gets Easier
(David Shulman, Opinion,The New York Review of Books, 5/29/15))
This is How We Fought in Gaza:
Soldiers' testimonials and photographs from
Operation "Protective Edge (2014)
(links to full 242 pg PDF file report at the breakingthesilence.org website)
David Shulman opinion excerpt:
Rescuers looking for survivors and bodies at the Qassam Mosque in the Neuseirat refugee camp, Gaza Strip, 8/9/14
(Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos)
In early May, Breaking the Silence,
the organization of Israeli ex-soldiers that is by now well known for
its meticulous independent accounts of IDF operations, published a report
the Israeli army’s campaign in Gaza last summer. The report revealed
that the large number of civilian casualties on the Palestinian side
was a consequence, among other things, of military tactics and orders
explicitly adopted by the IDF.
Israelis like to think that their army holds to high moral standards,
and they react badly to hard evidence that shows this is not the case.
There has been particular outrage at the suggestion that there is
anything wrong about the new “Gaza rules” and the high civilian body
count. Most Israelis simply, and simplistically, blame Hamas for the
fighting and its cost, which they also see as the natural result of
fighting in the thickly populated urban space of Gaza.
The seven-week operation known as “Protective Edge” (Tzuk Eitan,
“Steadfast Boulder,” in Hebrew) was a violent conflict aimed at
stopping rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. According to the United
Nations, some 2,200 people were killed, of whom 1,492, or more than two
thirds, were civilian. The overwhelming majority of these were
Palestinian. (The Israeli military recorded the deaths of sixty-six
Israeli soldiers and six Israeli civilians in the conflict.)
The evidence presented in the Breaking
the Silence report can be summarized relatively simply: soldiers
briefed by officers before they went into Gaza were instructed to avoid
all risks to themselves even at the cost of certain, possibly
substantial, civilian casualties. In practice, this meant they shot at
everything that moved in their zone of combat, including animals and,
inevitably, civilians who for whatever reason could not get out in
time. This point is a weighty one. The army delivered warnings to
civilians to evacuate areas slated for attack; usually these took the
form of leaflets or text-messages to cell phones, but there was also
the Israeli invention called “a knock on the door”—a small missile or
shell shot at a building as a warning that heavier shelling was about
to begin. Civilians who failed to heed such warnings were, according to
the army briefings, fair game. They were not supposed to be there.
The difficulty with these measures is by now well known and has been
discussed at some length. At times the interval between the knock on
the door and severe or total destruction was so short—measured in
minutes or even seconds—that there was simply no time for civilians to
get out. Moreover, such warnings are largely meaningless unless there
is a corridor of safety for evacuees fleeing the battle zone and some
provision for their survival once they get beyond the immediate threat,
as the prominent human-rights lawyer, Michael Sfard, wrote last summer
while the battles were still raging. Such measures were, in general,
absent during last summer’s fighting. Many civilians certainly died in
a desperate attempt to reach safety; some troubling cases are
documented in the report.
For the sake of comparison, we might recall the Israeli army’s
traditional rules of engagement, taught to generations of recruits. A
potential enemy can, we were told, be killed if he has a weapon, an
apparent intent to cause harm, and a realistic capability of doing so.
“Gaza rules” were far more lenient, as many of the Breaking the Silence
interviews state directly:
What were the rules of engagement?
There weren’t really any rules of
engagement, it was more protocols. The idea was, if you spot
something—shoot. They told us: “There aren’t supposed to be any
civilians there. If you spot someone, shoot.” Whether it posed a threat
or not wasn’t a question, and that makes sense to me. If you shoot
someone in Gaza it’s cool, no big deal.
The same approach—massive fire, sometimes uncontrolled or
indiscriminate—held true at much higher levels of operation, as in the
destruction of buildings, indeed of entire neighborhoods, such as
Shuja’iyya in the central zone and Khuza’a in the far south, either by
ground artillery or from the air. The heavy civilian casualties on the
Palestinian side included some five hundred dead children. Destruction
of homes and infrastructure in Gaza was immense, some of it clearly
meant to teach a lesson, or to take revenge, or to create a passable
illusion of military victory or some form of deterrent against future
The findings of the report—including the results of the fighting and
the orders that brought them about—are nothing very new. What is more
striking is how they suggest the impressive persistence and, indeed,
continual intensification of practices that have occurred over the last
three or four decades. Significant change lies only in the fact that
the acts in question now reflect deliberate and explicit policy of a
systemic nature coming down from the top. The Israel army once claimed
to hold, nominally at least, to moral considerations of an entirely
different order than those officially adopted last summer. Now, even
that pretense seems to be gone.
How did we get to this point? It’s important to remember that Gaza has
a history that goes back far beyond last year, and that Hamas rule
there developed as part of the longue durée, or the lethal dialogue, of
Israeli-Palestinian relations, including the last forty-eight years of
Occupation and in large measure, because of Israeli’s policy of
colonizing the West Bank, including the massive theft of land, the
disenfranchisement of millions of Palestinians, an entrenched regime of
state terror, and the lack of meaningful legal recourse to those living
under the Occupation. It will also reflect Israel’s adamant refusal to
To my mind, the true significance of the
Breaking the Silence report lies just here. There is a sinister link
between the conduct of the army in Gaza last summer and the system now
firmly in place on the West Bank—despite attempts by the government
(and large sections of the electorate) to deny any such connection.
Three recent examples may suffice: (only one is posted for this
Israel tops explosive killers’ list
(Rania Khalek, Electronic Intifada 6/30/15)
• On May 17, 750 olive saplings were uprooted and savagely destroyed,
undoubtedly by settlers, on Palestinian land east of the Etzion
settlements in the south Hebron hills. The land is privately owned by
the Abu Shanab family. Destruction of Palestinian olive trees is a
routine event in the south Hebron hills; I have seen the results
myself, near the village of Twaneh and elsewhere. One needs to bear in
mind that many Palestinian herders and small-scale farmers subsist
largely, even primarily, on olives, and the ancient trees themselves
are often treated as beloved members of the family—hence, I suppose,
the settlers’ delight in uprooting them. It goes without saying that no
attempt has been made by the police or the army to find the
perpetrators of this wanton act.
If Palestinians—all of them—are the enemy; if they are different enough
from Israelis to be seen as a separate (lower) category of human
beings; if their civilian casualties don’t really count for much (to
say nothing of the now notorious posts from last summer in Israeli
social media actually celebrating these deaths); if official Israeli
policy is based on maintaining the cruel system of the occupation
indefinitely, denying elementary human rights to Palestinian residents;
if the Prime Minister allows himself to speak even of Israeli Arabs,
citizens of the state, as constituting a threat to the domination of
the Jews and the rule of the Israeli right, as he did on the day of the
recent election—if all this is now acceptable public discourse inside
Israel, then killing more of them will become easier and easier and
look less and less like the crime it is.
Israel killed and injured more civilians
with explosive weapons than any other state in the world in 2014 due to
its military assault on Gaza. This is according to a new report by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV)
, an organization that tracks the global impact of explosive weapons on civilians.
While both state and non-state groups contributed to civilian
casualties in 2014, states were responsible for 28 percent of civilian
injuries and deaths, a sharp 17 percent rise from the previous year.
This was due in large part to Israel’s military assault on Gaza, which
accounted for 44 percent of all explosive violence in 2014.
(Source: Action on Armed Violence)
Dubbed Operation Protective Edge,
Israel’s 51-day bombing campaign killed 2,251 Palestinians and injured
another 11,000, according to UN figures.* The vast majority of those
killed (1,462) were civilians, including 551 children, making Gaza the third most dangerous place in the world to be a civilian in 2014
, according to AOAV.
* (see the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict
As a result, Palestinians in Gaza made up 43 percent of global civilian
casualties from artillery shelling, 35 percent of civilian casualties
from aerial bombings and 40 percent of worldwide child casualties from
explosive violence in 2014.
After the dust settled, bomb disposal experts estimated that Israel dropped the equivalent of six atomic bombs on Gaza
(Dore note: General Secretary of the Palestine National Initiative (PNI), Dr. Mustafa Barghouti,
recently stated at a July 9 speech in Berkeley that 21,000 tons of
explosives landed in Gaza, the equivalent of two nuclear bombs.)
In 2014, Gaza accounted for the third highest number of civilian
casualties from explosive violence globally, exceeding civilian death
and injury in Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Ukraine.
Of the 4,022 injuries and deaths from explosive violence AOAV recorded in Gaza, 3,813 were civilians.
This means that civilians comprised an alarming 95 percent of those killed or maimed by explosives in Gaza
placing Israel in the same league as the militant group Boko Haram,
whose deadly suicide and IED (improvised explosive device) attacks
resulted in a 97 percent civilian casualty rate in Nigeria. By
comparison, the rate of civilian casualties in Syria, to which Israel
often refers to deflect from its own atrocities, was 81 percent.
Such findings contradict Israeli proclamations
that it does more than any other force on earth to avoid civilian casualties.
Israel was responsible for more than one third, or 35 percent, of
civilians hit by air-launched explosives, Syria for 43 percent and Iraq
for 8 percent, leading to a nearly threefold global rise in civilian
casualties from aerial explosives in 2014.
The report found that 43 percent of
Israeli air attacks were launched by drones, accounting for 29 percent
of Gaza’s civilian casualties.
An investigation by the Associated Press generated similar results,
finding that over half of civilians killed in Gaza died in Israeli
airstrikes on their homes, “including 19 babies and 108 preschoolers
between the ages of one and five.”
Aerial explosives were particularly detrimental to children around the
world, “with 44 percent of all deaths and injuries being reported as
caused by air launched weapons,” the AOAV report states, citing as an
example the 29 July air assault on an apartment building in Khan Younis
(Gaza) that killed 18 children and critically injured another four as
they sheltered with their families.
A study by Defense for Children International-Palestine found that 225
Palestinian children were killed in Israeli airstrikes “while they were
in their own homes or seeking shelter, often as they sat down to eat
with their families, played or slept.” Another 164 children were
“directly targeted and unlawfully killed” by Israeli drone strikes on
their homes and in the street as they attempted to flee to safety.
Indeed, Israel proved itself to be a world leader at killing and
maiming children with explosives. Of the total child casualties from
explosive violence in 2014, 40 percent were in Gaza and 25 percent were
in Syria, revealed AOAV.
Though Israel possesses a high tech arsenal of precision-guided
weapons, it pounded the densely populated Gaza Strip with 34,000
unguided shells, including 19,000 high-explosive artillery shells. As a
result, Palestinians in Gaza made up 43 percent of global civilian
casualties from artillery shelling.
Israel fired these weapons indiscriminately into Gaza’s densely populated neighborhoods.
On 19 and 20 July, Israel battered the
neighborhood of Shujaiya with 7,000 high explosive shells, firing 4,800
shells within a seven-hour period. The extent of the indiscriminate
shelling, which killed at least 55 people, including 19 children and 14
women, was so unprecedented, senior US military officers who
participated in the US destruction of Iraq were reportedly left
* One of the more curious moments in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge
came on July 20, when a live microphone at Fox News caught U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry commenting sarcastically on Israel’s
military action. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry said.
“It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.”
Artillery pieces used during the operation included American made
weaponry that can fire three shells per minute. “The only possible
reason for doing that is to kill a lot of people in as short a period
of time as possible,” said the senior U.S. military officer. “It’s not
mowing the lawn,” he added, referring to a popular IDF term for
periodic military operations against Hamas in Gaza. “It’s removing the
“Holy bejeezus,” exclaimed retired Lt. Gen. Robert Gard when told the
numbers of artillery pieces and rounds fired during the July 21 action
in Shujaiya, a residential area on the eastern edge of Gaza City. “That
rate of fire over that period of time is astonishing. If the figures
are even half right, Israel’s response was absolutely disproportionate.”
While the AOAV report attributes high civilian casualties by states to
the targeting of groups and individuals in populated areas, it should
be noted that statements by Israeli military leaders demonstrate a
calculated military strategy that deliberately and systematically
targets civilians and civilian infrastructure.
As a recent investigation by the UN
Human Rights Council observed, Israel’s widespread attacks on civilians
in Gaza “may have constituted military tactics reflective of a broader
policy, approved at least tacitly by decision-makers at the highest
levels of the government of Israel.”
Israel losing Democrats,
Meanwhile, the Obama administration approved a $1.9 billion weapons
package to Israel in “compensation” for the US nuclear deal with
Iran, which the Israeli regime staunchly opposes. This
essentially guarantees Israel’s capacity to reenact its 2014 attack against the people of Gaza.
‘can’t claim bipartisan US support,’ top pollster warns
New survey by Frank Luntz shows almost
half of Democratic ‘opinion elites’ think Israel is racist, barely half
believe it wants peace,
and three quarters feel it has too much influence on US policy
(David Horovitz, The Times of Israel, 7/5/15)
Three quarters of highly educated, high
income, publicly active US Democrats — the so-called “opinion elites” —
believe Israel has too much influence on US foreign policy, almost half
of them consider Israel to be a racist country, and fewer than half of
them believe that Israel wants peace with its neighbors. These are
among the findings of a new survey carried out by US political
consultant Frank Luntz.
Detailing the survey results to The
Times of Israel on Sunday, Luntz called the findings “a disaster” for
Israel. He summed them up by saying that the Democratic opinion elites
are converting to the Palestinians, and “Israel can no longer claim to
have the bipartisan support of America.”
He said he “knew there was a shift” in attitudes to Israel among US
Democrats “and I have been seeing it get worse” in his ongoing polls.
But the new findings surprised and shocked him, nonetheless. “I didn’t
expect it to become this blatant and this deep.”
A prominent US political consultant known best for his work with
Republicans, who describes himself as "right of center" in US politics,
Luntz said “Israel has won the hearts and minds of Republicans in
America, while at the same time it is losing the Democrats,” he said.
The survey, sponsored by the Jewish National Fund, was conducted last week. Among the key findings:
• Asked about Israeli influence on US foreign policy, an overwhelming
76% of Democrats, as compared to 20% of Republicans, said Israel has
“too much influence.”
• Asked whether Israel is a racist country, 47% of Democrats agreed it is, as opposed to 13% of Republicans.
• Asked whether Israel wants peace with its neighbors, while an
overwhelming 88% of Republicans said it does, a far lower 48% of
• Asked whether they would be more likely to vote for a local
politician who criticized Israeli occupation and mistreatment of
Palestinians, 45% of Democrats said yes, compared to just 6% of
One Year After Israel's Assault on Gaza
• Asked whether the US should support
Israel or the Palestinians, a vast 90% of Republicans and a far lower
51% of Democrats said Israel. Another 8% of Republicans and 31% of
Democrats were neutral.
• Asked about which side they themselves support, 88% of Republicans
and 46% of Democrats said they were “pro-Israeli” while 4% of
Republicans and 27% of Democrats said they were “pro-Palestinian.”
• Asked if settlements are an impediment to peace, 75% of Democrats and 25% of Republicans agreed.
A specialist in finding and testing the language that can impact public
opinion, Luntz said the word “Zionism” could play no part in messaging
designed to repair relations with US Democrats. There has to be an “end
to the [use of the] word Zionism,” he said. “You can’t make the case if
you use that word. If you are at Berkeley or Brown and start outlining
a Zionist vision, you don’t get to make a case for Israel because
they’ve already switched off.”
He also predicted that Israel is in for “a lot more trouble” from the
BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) campaign. Once they had been
informed about the BDS campaign, 19% of respondents supported it — 31%
of Democrats and 3% of Republicans. And, stressed Luntz, 60% of
America’s opinion elites said they were not familiar with BDS. “Israel
is already having trouble with BDS, and Americans don’t even know what
it means. Can you imagine how bad it will get?”
He also foresaw a looming battle in the US over foreign aid to Israel.
Some 33% of Democrats and 22% of Republicans, his poll found, were
upset that “Israel gets billions and billions of dollars in funding
from the US government that should be going to the American people.”
The poll also found, 50% of Democrats and 18% of Republicans (and 36%
of all respondents) agreed with the proposition that “Jewish people are
too hyper-sensitive and too often label legitimate criticisms of Israel
as an anti-Semitic attack.”
I recently saw Mad Max: Fury Road.
The setting has been described as a dystopian wasteland.
Dystopian is defined "as bad as can be; characterized by human
misery". Dystopia is defined as "An imaginary place or
state in which the condition of life is extremely bad, as from
deprivation, oppression, or terror."
You don't have to imagine such a place on earth. It already exists.
That place is Gaza. One year after the start of the 51 day war on
Gaza, Max Blumenthal, author of the new book, The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza
describers Gaza as an "apocalyptic oblivion."
Nothing has changed since the 51 days of
hell. No reconstruction has begun. 18,000 homes were destroyed/damaged
and not one has been rebuilt. Not one.
A window to hell in Gaza
(Max Blumenthal The Electronic Intifada, 7/10/15)
A year after Operation Protective Edge:
The 51 days of carnage Israel inflicted on Gazans is referred to by Israelis as Operation Protective Edge.
The explosive power Israel fired on Gaza by land, sea and air was the
equivalent of two nuclear bombs - about 21000 tons of explosives on the
139 square mile territory.
During so called Operation Protective Edge, six Israeli civilians were
killed, including an Arab Israeli, a Thai civilian worker and one
child. 67 IDF soldiers died.
During the same 51 days 2251 Palestinians were killed including 551
children; over 1000 children were permanently disabled; the total
injured was 11,231; 100,000 Gazans remain displaced. 1.8 mill Gazans
remain under occupation, siege and blockade - the longest blockade in
Many news outlets and human rights organizations wrote stories on Gaza - One Year later.
Below are several headlined links that I encourage you to read. I've
included a series of articles by the Independent UK, one by Max
Blumenthal and one from the Israeli human rights NGO, B'Tselem.
For hundreds of thousands living in Gaza, it’s not over
Below are 5 separately linked stories from a recent series by the Independent UK:
Gaza a year on from Operation Protective Edge:
The shelling may have stopped,
but there's little relief for those left behind
Families still living among the rubble of 18,000 homes
destroyed in a 50-day war
No hope and no jobs, so the young risk their lives and run for it
The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Gaza One Year Later: The Quest for Accountability
Click link above to take action to hold Israel accountable.
U.S. State Department:
We won’t protect Israeli settlements against boycott
efforts to extend anti-BDS fight to occupied territories show
pro-Israel lobby the perils of biting off more than one can chew.
(Chemi Shalev, Haaretz, 7/1/15)
note: requires free registration
The U.S. State Department on Tuesday
punched a big hole in Israel-led efforts to induce the Obama
administration to regard boycotts of settlements as identical to
boycott of Israel proper.
A special statement issued by the State Department Press Office on
Tuesday afternoon made clear that while the administration “strongly
opposes” any boycott, divestment or sanctions against the State of
Israel, it does not extend the same protection to “Israel-controlled
territories.” Rather than weakening efforts to boycott Jewish
settlements in the occupied territories, as Israel supporters had
planned, the State Department was actually granting them unprecedented
The statement came in the wake of President Obama’s signing of the
Trade Promotion Authority bill, which grants him the authority he had
sought to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord. But as the
bill deals with free trade agreements in general, a clause was inserted
in the Senate and in the House of Representative that instructs
American diplomats to include opposition to any boycott of Israel - or
of persons from “territories controlled by Israel” - in their free
trade negotiations with the European Union.
The State Department statement, however,
makes clear that the bill will not change U.S. policy towards the
settlements. “The U.S. government has never defended or supported
Israeli settlements or activity associated with them, and, by
extension, does not pursue policies or activities that would legitimize
them,” it said. It went on to note: “Administrations of both parties
have long recognized that settlement activity and efforts to change
facts on the ground undermine the goal of a two-state solution.”
United Church of Christ Votes to Boycott & Divest
The defiant rebuff of the Congressional bill comes in the wake of the
recent Supreme Court decision regarding Menachem Zivotofsky that
rebuffed Congressional attempts to force the administration to record
“Israel” next to his city of birth “Jerusalem.” And just as the
Zivotofsky decision weakened Israel’s hold on Jerusalem, the boycott
decision only delegitimizes the settlements more than ever before.
Thus, the effort to strengthen the settlements, supported by AIPAC and
other mainstream and right-wing groups and opposed by J-Street and
organizations on the left, actually ends up weakening them. The attempt
to blot out the differences between a boycott of Israel and of the
territories actually highlights them. The boycott of settlements, in
effect, has now been officially stamped “kosher” by the State
from Companies Profiting from Israel's Occupation
Press Release Excerpt:
June 30, 2015
"As disciples of Jesus, we hear and seek
to heed his call to be peacemakers, responding to violence with
nonviolence and extending love to all," said Rev. John Deckenback,
Conference Minister of the Central Atlantic Conference of the UCC,
which submitted the resolution.. "It is in that spirit of love for both
Israelis and Palestinians, and a desire to support Palestinians in
their nonviolent struggle for freedom, that the United Church of Christ
has passed this resolution.”
Survivors Describe Entire Families Being Massacred
"In approving this resolution, the UCC has demonstrated its commitment to justice and equality,”
said Rev. Mitri Raheb, a Christian Palestinian and Pastor of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. “For
Palestinians living under occupation or facing systematic
discrimination as citizens of Israel, enduring the destruction of their
homes and businesses, the theft
of their land for settlements, and living under blockade and siege in
Gaza, this action sends a strong signal that they are not alone, and
that there are churches who still dare to speak truth to power and
stand with the oppressed.”
The vote, which was 508 in favor, 124 against, with 38 abstentions, was
the culmination of a process that began in 2005, to end the Church's
complicity in Israel's nearly half-century-old occupation and other
abuses of Palestinian human rights.
The United Church of Christ is following in the footsteps of sister
mainline churches like the Presbyterian Church (USA), which passed a
similar resolution last year divesting from Israel’s occupation, and
the United Methodists, who voted to boycott products made in Israeli
in the occupied Palestinian territories.
in Brazen Islamic State Attack on Kobane
(Samuel Oakford, Vice News, 6/27/15)
Peter Clifford Blog: Syria and Iraq News
combined excerpt :
During two days of global terror last
week at least 27 worshipers during Ramadan were killed by a suicide
bomber in a Shiite mosque in Kuwait, 39 tourists including
including 15 were slaughtered at a beach resort in Tunisia. IS claimed
responsibility for these atrocities. Also in Africa Al Shabab
murdered 30 people in Somalia. And the severed head of a businessman
hung on a factory gate in a quiet corner of the Rhône-Alpes region of
France in a killing apparently inspired by the IS-style beheadings in
Syria, Libya and Iraq.
The mainstream press focused on the Tunisian and French terrorist attacks because the deaths involved Europeans.
There was another terrorist attack and it was by far the most gruesome
and bloodiest. But because it took place in Syria where death is
a daily occurrence, it received far less coverage.
It happened in Kobane where 200+ women,
children and elderly were murdered - some in their sleep. Many more are
The attack on Kobane and the nearby village of Brakh Bootan marked the
biggest single massacre of civilians by IS in Syria since it killed
hundreds of members of the Sunni Sheitaat tribe last year, said Rami
Abdulrahman, who runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Kobane is a Kurdish border town, a stones throw from Turkey. Kobane has
become a symbol of Kurdish resistance because the Kurds of Kobane were
the first fighting force to successfully stand up to the Islamic State
at a time when IS seemed invincible after its conquest of Mosul (Iraq)
and Raqqa (Syria).
Last October it appeared a genocidal massacre of horrific proportion
was imminent in Kobane. 200,000 civilians fled into Turkey. But
backed by determined and skilled fighters and US air support IS
was expelled from Kobane after a 4four month siege. The date was Jan 27
2015 and since then until last Thursday, the Kurds had recaptured 200+
villages from IS and not ceded any of the territory.
The success of the Kurds against IS is the only example thus far of the US working with a capable partner on the ground.
Just last week, IS was driven from the strategic border town of Tal
Abyad, cutting off vital northern supply lines to IS Syrian
headquarters in Raqqa. The Kurdish YPG with help from the FSA and US
airstrikes are only 30 miles from Raqqa, the capital of the IS Caiphate.
Perhaps as retribution for these defeats
Islamic State (IS) fighters staged a surprise attack on Kobane.
The militants targeted civilians with drive-by killings and massacred
entire families during a brazen suicide mission.
Concurrent with the primary attack on Kobane early on Thursday morning,
the IS Jihadists attacked the village of Berxbatan (Barkh Butan) on
Kobane Canton’s southern frontier.
The death toll there is now reported as 33 villagers, many of them having been beheaded, and at least 15 wounded.
The Kobane surprise attack began when IS fighters detonated a series of
car bombs in Kobane. Questions are being asked if the attackers made it
in from the Turkish side, and if so, why Turkey didn't stop them.
The reason that this IS force was able to penetrate into the heart of
Kobane is that they had shaved off their beards and were wearing
Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and Free Syrian Army
(FSA) uniforms. Their vehicles were also decked out with Burkhat
Al-Firat, YPG and FSA flags. Burkhat Al-Firat (“Euphrates Volcano”) is
the combined force fighting the Islamic State.
A second objective of the IS fighters disguising themselves to gain entry to Kobani is to instill paranoia in the population.
Following the primary suicide bomb attack at the frontier gate, the IS
Jihadists then attempted to take control of the Kaniya Kurda
neighborhood including the Doctors without Borders Hospital.
With the Jihadist group were many snipers who proceeded to shoot
randomly at anybody on the street and who also broke into a number of
homes wiping out entire families.
Dozens of IS fighters entered the town.
Some speculate there were IS sleeper cells in Kobane. Kobane
locals confirm most of the IS fighters were speaking Turkish,
Kurdish and Arabic.
Kobane is miles from current front lines giving many residents a sense
of security. Many people who ventured out of their homes out of
curiosity after hearing the suicide bomb explosions were gunned down.
In some incidents, Kurdish-speaking IS fighters knocked on the doors of
houses, beckoning families outside and into a hail of bullets.
By Saturday, the remaining IS forces in Kobane had either been killed
or fled the town. The number of civilians killed since bands of IS
fighters infiltrated the town early Thursday has exceeded 200 and is
likely to rise as the search for bodies continues the majority are
women, children and elderly. At least 54 IS fighters were reported
VICE News obtained testimony collected by a local NGO worker who
interviewed victims at a hospital in Turkey. International human rights
workers corroborated the accounts as legitimate.
Ibrahim Jasim, the manager of a bakery in Kobane, said Thursday morning began as usual, but quickly descended into bloodshed.
"I left my house to go to the baker, as usual, unaware of what was
going on," he said. "When I arrived to the bakery I saw the bodies of
my three workers outside of the bakery. They had most likely been
targeted by snipers from the MSF building, as the baker is visible from
there," he added, referring to a Doctors Without Borders hospital
captured by IS.
"When I was standing there, a sniper fired at me and wounded me in the chest," he said.
A 30-year-old woman named Fatma, also
speaking from a hospital just across the Turkish border, said she was
on her way to Amel hospital in Kobane early Thursday to retrieve the
body of her father, who had passed away hours earlier of natural
causes. As she entered the town's center in a car with her husband and
one of his friends, IS gunmen pulled up alongside and began firing
wildly into the vehicle. The militants, she said, yelled "Kouffars! We
have come for you," as they shot, referring to them as infidels.
"They shot my husband in the head, his
brains splattered in front of my eyes on the car," Fatma said. Her
husband's friend was also killed by gunfire. Fatma, who is more than
eight months pregnant, said she threw herself out of the car and was
rescued by Kurdish YPG soldiers. Taken to Turkey, doctors were able to
deliver her baby in an emergency procedure, and both survived. Her
other children remained in Kobane, and she was not sure of their fate.
Kurds fight Kurds in Syria
(Mahmut Bozarslan; Al Monitor, 6/25/15)
Another woman, 19, said that her entire family was shot to death
outside of their home in Kobane. The woman was herself wounded, and she
wept uncontrollably as she spoke from a hospital inside Turkey. She was
unable to count the number of family members who perished.
A woman in her mid-50s, who did not give her name, said IS fighters
captured her from her house and held her hostage. "I was taken by ISIS
to the field hospital — there outside the hospital they shot me in the
leg and told me to call my children to come and take me away," she
said, using another common abbreviation for IS. "I called my children
but could not reach them.
"Thank God, later I learned that this was a tactic they used to get
people out so they could kill them," the woman said, explaining that
she was able to escape and crawl to the Turkish border, where she was
recovering in a hospital. The fate of her family was unclear.
Locals also reported that IS snipers set up around Kobane to pick off civilians who ventured outside.
Given the strong Kurdish grip on the area, the IS mission appeared to
be suicidal and intended to kill civilians. Many are now seeing
the IS attack as revenge for the capture of by Kurdish forces of Tal
Abyad and for getting far too close (30 mi) to their “Syrian capital”
The Evil That Dare Not Speak Its Name:
A considerable number of Kurds, most of them from Turkey, have joined the ranks of IS in Syria and Iraq.
The impoverished province of Bingol, home to some 267,000 people, has
emerged as a major IS recruitment base in Turkey’s predominantly
Kurdish southeast. Official figures are not available, but locals
estimate at least 600 young men have joined the jihadist group, lured
through religious indoctrination and various promises, including money
Bingol stands out as a strongly conservative region whose population is
overwhelmingly Zaza, an ethnic subgroup in the Kurdish fold.
Mehmet Kurt, a Bingol University academic who studied radicalization in
Turkey’s southeast told Al-Monitor that a complex mix of “strong
historic and social dynamics” nourish radicalization in Bingol.
Kurt said that the question of whether Zazas are really Kurdish or not
— a debate that has intensified in recent years — contributed to an
identity crisis among the Zazas, which often resulted in religious
affiliation superseding ethnicity.
(By Sandy Tolan, Truthdig, 6/14/15)
Palestinian workers wait to cross at the Israeli checkpoint in Jalameh,
south of the West Bank city of Jenin, on their way to work in Israel.
(Mohammed Ballas / AP)
Journey through a fractured landscape
(By Sandy Tolan, Mondoweiss, 6/18/15)
note: Sandy's website is Ramallah Cafe
Debris thrown by Israeli settlers into a net above
the Palestinian market in the old city of Hebron.
(Photo: Manfred Schweda/ thisfabtrek.com)
Making music under occupation
A conversation with veteran journalist Sandy Tolan about his new book, "Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land.”
He tells the story of Ramzi Aburedwan and his journey from stone
thrower during the first Intifada to music student to music teacher,
transforming the lives of thousands of Palestinian children living
under the Israeli military occupation in the West Bank.
Sandy is also author of "The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East."(Your Call Radio, KALW, 55 min, 6/19/15)
The Flute at the Checkpoint
(by SandyTolan, Huffington Post 4/30/15)
combined excerpt from first two listed stories under Gaza Corner:
For years the “A-word” has been
off-limits in polite conversation about Israel’s treatment of
Palestinians. The A-word, we have been told, unfairly singles out the
Jewish state and its use is perhaps even anti-Semitic. Such
declarations can have a powerful silencing effect.
However, in 2002 Archbishop Desmond Tutu broke the taboo, writing in
the British newspaper The Guardian that “the humiliation of
Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks” reminded him “of what
happened to us black people in South Africa.”
Four years later Jimmy Carter committed a similar indelicacy with the very title of his bestseller, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”
A wave of condemnation of the former president followed.
For the most part, in the mainstream U.S. press at least, the decorum
that forbids use of the A-word remains in place. Yet increasingly, as
Israel continues to colonize the West Bank with settlers, and its army
ensures their dominion over the lands they occupy, adhering to the
A-word ban requires shielding one’s eyes, or, at a minimum, engaging in
What, after all, to call a system of
legalized discrimination based on ethnicity and religion in which one
group has full voting rights and the other does not? What to call a
system under which one people can travel freely on roads built
specifically for them, whisking through checkpoints because of their
religion and the color of their license plates, and under which the
other must submit to inspection at military kiosks frequently manned by
snipers? A system under which one population in hilltop enclaves is
protected by troops and military surveillance towers, while the other
is subjected to frequent night raids by those same troops? Under which 40 percent of the adult male
population has been forced to spend time in prison? Under which one
group’s “civil administration” can designate a town of the other group
as a historic archeological site and evict all the residents, who then
must move into tents? Under which soldiers ordered Palestinian bathers
out of a public swimming pool last spring so Jewish settlers could have
a swim, alone and unbothered by the darker-skinned native population?
Numbers tell a certain kind of grim story in the landscape of Palestine:
109,000: the number of West Bank settlers, excluding East Jerusalem, in
September 1993, the time of the christening of the Oslo accords on the
White House lawn.
350,000: the number of those settlers today — a tripling during something called the “peace process.”
40,000+: the population of Maale Adumim, well inside the West Bank, but considered a “suburb” of Jerusalem by Israel.
20,000: the number of settlers in Ariel, where the separation barrier
snakes a third of the way inside Palestinian lands to make the
settlement part of “greater Israel.”
18: The number of Israeli settlements directly encircling the hoped-for
capital of the Palestinian state, East Jerusalem, cutting off the city
from the rest of Palestine, but for a piece of land called E-1, which
Israel plans to develop.
Roads 60, 443, and myriad other randomly-chosen numbers:
smooth-as-glass highways slicing through West Bank Palestinian lands,
but for long stretches reserved for almost exclusively for settlers.
Yet the numbers, telling as they may be, can’t begin to evoke the
feeling of the transformed Palestinian landscape, nor the profound
power imbalance that defines relations between Israel and the
Palestinians. Only a road trip through Palestine can do that.
Our destination was the old city of Hebron, one of the most surreal
tableaus of the entire tragedy of Palestine and Israel, where 500 to
600 Jewish settlers, many of them from the United States, are protected
by at least 1,500 soldiers in a city of 170,000 Palestinians.
We walked through the moribund Old City
of Hebron, where urban settlement blocks stand brick to brick with
Palestinian homes in a contorted geographical designation known as H-2.
This arrangement was sanctioned by the international community in an
agreement signed by the Palestinian Authority as part of the Oslo
“peace process.” Israel had insisted that a few hundred settlers be
allowed to stay in a neighborhood of tens of thousands of Palestinians
because of a long Jewish presence there. The current settlers say they
live in Hebron to honor the memory of Jews massacred there by
Palestinians in 1929, during riots over Jewish immigration to
Palestine. Yet the current settlers, among the most extremist of all
Israelis, have little or no connection to the descendants of those
massacred. Some of the descendants have denounced the Hebron
settlements, pointing out that some Palestinian families sheltered Jews
in the massacre; they call for removal of the settlers.
Today, the 1,500 Israeli soldiers, more than twice the number of
settlers they were sent to protect, spend much of their time escorting
their charges from one part of the city to another. When the armed
escort squads push through the narrow alleys of Old Hebron, life on the
Palestinian street freezes; such is the primacy of Israel’s settlement
project. Steel screens above the old Arab casbah protect the
Palestinian vendors against a stream of trash, bottles, plastic chairs
and bags of feces that the settlers hurl down from above. This is
We walked toward Shuhada Street, the once-bustling main street of
Palestinian life. H. (our guide) stopped; as a Palestinian, he is not
allowed to walk there. The street was nearly vacant. The doors on some
of the shops were welded shut; access to some homes is now possible
only by ladder, or, in one case, a rope to a window.
We came upon one of H-2’s 120 military checkpoints and other obstacles ensuring separation between Arab and Jew.
Around the bend we came to a tiny mosque, whose imam, H. told us, is in
his nineties. He wants to retire, but if he does, he fears the settlers
will take over the modest building. So he hangs on, despite increasing
obstacles. The latest: 24 massive concrete blocks, each 16 feet high,
cutting of the imam’s path from his home on the hill just above. Now
the 92-year-old must walk a mile to reach the mosque.
Nearby stood a Palestinian elementary school, its entire perimeter
marked with looping razor wire. Many of the children must cross
checkpoints to get to the school, walking past graffiti in English
saying “Gas the Arabs!” and sometimes enduring a gantlet of flying
stones and rotten vegetables and attacks from settlers’ dogs. Across
from the school lies a flat expanse of asphalt. Once this was a play
area for the school. The old soccer and volleyball grounds have been
replaced by a parking lot for buses from the settlements.
It was from an adjacent settlement, Kiryat Arba, in 1994 that a settler
from Brooklyn named Baruch Goldstein emerged, traveling with his Galil
automatic rifle to the Ibrahimi Mosque and somehow getting through
Israeli security before gunning down 29 Palestinians as they prayed.
Survivors beat him to death. Today Goldstein is revered among some
settlers. At his gravesite in Kiryat Arba, these words are inscribed:
“He gave his soul for the people of Israel, the Torah, and the Land.
His hands are clean and his heart good. …”
We headed to the Ibrahimi Mosque, also known as the Cave of the
Patriarchs. The call to prayer from this mosque, H. told me, is often
banned by the Israeli authorities, who say it bothers the settlers.
Power in Hebron, as it does across the
West Bank, lies most clearly in the hands of Israel; Palestinians are
no match for Israel’s military might or its political influence with
the United States, the world’s sole superpower. Palestinian power lies
instead in sumud, or steadfastness: a determination to persevere and to
live for a better day, confronting Israel on moral grounds while hoping
the world will one day bear greater witness to the facts on the ground.
Life in Mosul one year on:
“Existence,” declares a popular Palestinian slogan, “is resistance.”
But the system in which they exist cannot stand in the long run. And
although some commentators and others, even after looking at the facts,
may continue to decry the use of the A-word—A for Apartheid—to me it
matters little what we call it. I am also fine with comparing these
conditions, and others like them all over Palestine, to the legislated
racism and racial violence that were known in America as Jim Crow.
Whatever we call it, it is separate and unequal. And like apartheid, like Jim Crow, it is destined for the dustbin of history.
'Isis with all its brutality is more honest
than the Shia government
Islamic State (IS) militants conquered Mosul,
Iraq’s second largest city, in a lightning advance in June 2014. Here,
residents of the city share their experiences of life under IS.
[stories are both pro and anti IS; local residents excerpts below headlines]
(Mona Mahmood, Guardian UK, 6/10/15)
What's life like under Islamic State?
reveals how Islamic State wields power over people's everyday lives in
Iraq's second city, Mosul, a year after it was captured.
videos obtained by the BBC's Ghadi Sary show mosques being blown up,
abandoned schools, and women being forced to cover up their bodies.
[These BBC produced stories are anti-IS; local residents excerpts below headlines]
A Glimpse Of Life In Mosul
BBC reporter Ghadi Sary speaks with NPR's Arun Rath about secretly
filmed videos obtained of harrowing conditions in the Iraqi city of
Mosul, which is controlled by the self-declared Islamic State. The videos, smuggled out of the city, feature ordinary people describing and documenting their lives under ISIS rule.(NPR, 6/13/15)
background articles and resources:
Citizens of Mosul endure economic collapse
and repression under Isis rule
Many Sunnis were glad to see the Iraqi army go when Islamic State took over – but for many the situation is now far worse(Mohammad Moslawi in Mosul, Fazel Hawramy in Irbil and Luke Harding; Guardian UK, 10/27/14)
note: Mohammad Moslawi is the pseudonym of an Iraqi reporter in Mosul
Mosul Eye is the pseudonym of a local historian who has been secretly
documenting IS's activities in Mosul. While it is not possible to
verify the blogger's identity, Iraq watchers believe the accounts are
The Islamist Phoenix:
The Islamic State and the Redrawing of the Middle East
In this book world-renowned terrorism expert Loretta Napoleoni
demonstrates that while Western media portrays the Islamic State as
little more than a gang of thugs on a winning streak, the organization
is proposing a new model of nation building.
"A vital contribution to our understanind of what is happening in the Middle East." Chris Hedges(Seven Stories Press - 2014)
Excerpt from "Life in Mosul: One year on":
- Widow and mother of four, 33
Last June, Isis took over Mosul and
dominated the scene in the city. I advised Kareem, my husband, to leave
his job and for us to flee together to Turkey. He was nearly convinced,
but learned that he would be murdered soon if he did not assist Isis in
repairing damaged vehicles left by the Iraqi army to use in their
I will never forget the day when my husband rushed out early in the
morning to a deserted military camp in the suburbs of Mosul to fix
damaged military equipment belonging to Isis. He was killed by an air
Isis men kept coming to my husband’s parents’ house during the funeral
in a pickup loaded with food for us and for the mourners. They also
brought $300 in cash for the kids with a promise to keep sending $100 a
month as a pension.
I struggled to cope with my children’s
daily demands. I sold my daughter’s bracelets at the jewellery shop,
and went back the next day and slipped on a ring and walked out, hoping
the owner would not recognise me with all the women wearing the veil. I
walked out of the shop but the owner stopped me, and a woman from the
Isis female security forces took me to their centre.
Ghazwan Abdul Rahman -
“Why did you steal the ring?” an Isis interrogator asked me. I answered
in tears, “I’m a widow of an Isis martyr with four children. I needed
money to feed my children and pay the rent. Please forgive me.”
I was questioned by two judges. The second day after my last hearing, I
was taken from my room by three Isis women to another room where an old
man was standing. He said: “Tie her to the table.”
I was tied firmly, and another man came with a sword in his hand. When
I saw him, I began to shout, “Mercy, have mercy on me.” I screamed and
begged him to leave me alone. He looked so determined. I wanted to run
away but couldn’t. I couldn’t believe the whole scene, and thought it
was a nightmare. The man did not hesitate before chopping my left hand
at the wrist. The whole world turned into black in my eyes and my legs
were numb. No words in humanity’s dictionary can describe my pain and
feeling at that horrifying moment. I fainted immediately.
My eldest daughter wept all the time whenever her eyes met mine in the
hospital. I was discharged and went home. I tried to commit suicide a
few times by strangling myself but the image of my little children kept
stopping me. I live now for them and have vowed to make sure they all
finish their education and marry only the men they love.
High school graduate, 19, supports Isis
I was chatting with my friend about
college when all of a sudden I received a hell of a push on my back. A
towering man in Isis clothing was pushing aside any man obstructing his
way towards the owner of the bakery. “I want some bread now, I can’t
wait and need to go back to my other fighter brothers,” he said.
But the owner told him to join the queue like the others. The argument
heated up and the Isis fighter lost his patience, and directed a kick
to the face of the owner, filled his bag with bread and dashed away
after leaving some money on the table.
Dr Firas Ghalib -
We were all in an absolute silence
watching without being able to say a word or do anything. The owner was
bleeding from his nose. Two or three men ran to help and stop the
bleeding while the owner vowed that he would complain to the sharia
court. After two days, Isis police from the sharia court were in the
bakery asking witnesses if the fighter or the owner provoked the
situation and attacked first. All the men in the bakery confirmed that
the fighter was the offender and the owner was merely trying to be fair
and keep customers in queue. The sharia court verdict was in favour of
the bakery owner and the Isis fighter had to apologise to him publicly.
Then he was kicked out of the caliphate for his uncivilised behaviour.
Isis succeeded in winning people’s hearts in Mosul from the first day
they liberated the city for being modest, unprejudiced and cooperative.
They restored the dignity and pride of the Sunni man in Mosul after
enduring a great deal of humiliation and revenge under successive Shia
governments since the US occupation of Iraq.
Corruption was widespread and eroding all the city facilities, which
were like a huge military barracks suffocating people. The city did not
witness any reconstruction for the entire last 10 years despite all the
billions that were poured into the city council.
Mosul now lives in a golden era. Though world media is in an effortless
campaign to mar the image of Isis fighters, show them as brutal
terrorists and monsters, on the contrary they are most welcomed in
Mosul for the great sacrifices they have offered to protect Sunni
people from the Shia army’s inhuman practices in Mosul and other Sunni
provinces in Iraq.
None of the people in Mosul who pledged their allegiance to Caliph
al-Baghdadi want Shia militias to get close to Mosul. I would be the
first to fight these militias who come to sow destruction and killing
among Sunnis. We have seen their atrocities in Tikrit and Jurf
al-Sakher against isolated civilians.
Mosul is more stable and safe now, my father can leave his shop open
and go for prayers, and no one dares to steal a straw from the shop.
Civil services are better now, like power and water, and roads are more
clean. I spend most of my free time praying in mosques and attending
courses in Islamic sharia and hadith*.
* Hadith - collections of the reports of the teachings, deeds and sayings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Neurologist, 45, father of two children
I know a professor at Mosul University
who was caught by the Isis hisbah (religious police) in a room with his
female colleague correcting students’ final exams notes. The penalty
was that he had to marry his female colleague or get 30 lashes. The
professor refused as he already had a wife and children, and he
accepted the lashes.
Basheer Aziz -
I was with my wife in the car driving towards my parents house, and my
wife had to take off her veil to breastfeed our little baby. The veil
was keeping the blowing air off the baby, who was also terrified of her
mother’s face being covered. Not that long after, an Isis hisbah patrol
saw me and maintained that my wife should wear the veil under whatever
circumstances, otherwise I would be in trouble.
I left Mosul with my wife and two children recently and went to Irbil.
College graduate, 26, supports Isis
Mosul before Isis was like a grand,
horrifying prison. The bus had to stop by countless army checkpoints
where there were feverish hunts for men’s IDs. Often, the whole bus
would wait for an hour or two while a soldier was engaged in beating a
passenger who happened to be not holding his ID.
Islamic State is the dream and utmost desire of any Muslim. We longed
to be governed by the holy Qur’an’s rules and the prophet Muhammad’s sunnah.*
* Sunnah is the way of life prescribed as normative for Muslims on the
basis of the teachings and practices of the Islamic prophet Muhammad
and interpretations of the Islamic holy book, the Quran.
Now, with any call to prayer, all shops are shut down. Men have to grow
their beards. Any act of adultery will be dealt with either by stones
or lashes. The penalty of looting is a hand cut and men are imprisoned
for publicly harassing women.
Then Isis diwans (departments for health, complaints, preaching and
mosques, education, almsgiving, hisbah and services) were established.
The almsgiving department is in charge of collecting taxes to divide
among needy families. Each family receives $25 a month, an amount that
will be raised to $50 with the harvest season, in addition to a good
portion of wheat, rice, sugar, pickles, food oil and fuels.
Recently, an exclusive market for women
was opened in Mosul to allow them to do their shopping at ease. There
is no ban on women driving. The Isis municipality is doing its best to
keep roads clean and paved, setting up lampposts, providing water and
power and repairing the damage from coalition air strikes.
Excerpt from BBC "Inside Mosul":
I feel so proud being part of Isis, it granted me freedom. We live in
glory now except for the coalition air strikes that spread panic and
fear among the civilians.
I disagree with Isis practices against Christians, Yazidis and other
minorities in Mosul. I’m still in touch with our Christian neighbours
and wish they would come back shortly. All people in Mosul are in
disagreement with the demolition of ancient sites in Mosul, and some
Isis militants are not happy either.
There is an acute financial crisis in Mosul now due to lack of jobs.
Only those who receive monthly salaries from the government in Baghdad
are surviving in Mosul. People do not know if Isis will last forever,
or if another military organisation will come and exact revenge on
those who were working for Isis. Depression is widespread among people
of Mosul now.
At the same time, most of the people are against the return of the
corrupt politicians or Shia militias who will destroy the city, not
liberate it as they claim. Isis with all its brutality is more honest
and merciful than the Shia government in Baghdad and its militias.
"Since IS took the city, it has been
applying the 'Laws of the Caliphate', as it calls them. The minimum
punishment is flogging, which is applied for things like smoking a
"Theft is punished by amputating a hand, adultery by men by throwing
the offender from a high building, and adultery by women by stoning to
death. The punishments are carried out in public to intimidate people,
who are often forced to watch.
"I know many people who have been arrested by IS. Some of them are my
relatives. Some were killed because they were in the security services.
Others have been released. They tell unimaginable stories of atrocities
committed by IS in its prisons.
"Many who come out prefer not to speak. They stay silent, because they're terrified that if they speak, they'll be rearrested."
"Daily life has changed in an indescribable way. There are no jobs anymore. The poor have been left to the mercy of God.
Spirit of Humanity’ Photo Contest Winners
"I have lost my job and have been forced to abandon my studies. Like
everyone else, I am denied my basic rights. According to IS, everything
is 'haram' (forbidden) and so I end up just sitting at home all the
time. Even simple leisure activities like picnics are banned now in
Mosul, under the pretext that they are a waste of time and money.
"IS takes a quarter of everyone's salary as a contribution towards paying for rebuilding the city.
"The group has even replaced the imams in the mosques with pro-IS
people. Many of us have stopped going to the mosques because those
attending are asked to give an oath of allegiance and we hate that.
"Meanwhile, my brother was given 20 lashes just because he didn't shut his shop during prayer time.
Numerous disasters and increasing
conflict are negatively impacting the lives of millions of people
across the Middle East and North Africa. In response, innumerable
individuals, volunteers and professional humanitarian workers are
providing those in need with essential protection and assistance, often
under dangerous circumstances.
To capture this Spirit of Humanity, the World Humanitarian Summit
which was initiated by the UN Secretary General and will culminate in Istanbul in 2016, launched its first photo contest.
Many of the pictures showed the hardship of daily life and the
suffering of children, men and women living in conflict zones or
refugee camps. But despite the misery and the constant fear, the
photographers managed to catch glimpses of hope and moments of joy.
The winners are Islam Mardini from Aleppo and Mohammed Muhaisen from Gaza.
The photos are stunning.
A group of children play outside their destroyed house in the Al Zaytoun area in Gaza City.
© Mustafa El Halabi
Have a look.
(click above for all 27 photos)
When pain and suffering make it impossible to speak, feelings show through the eyes.
© Karim Ahmed
Israeli rights groups join battle to save
symbol of Arab resistance to evictions
The fate of the
West Bank Palestinian village of Khirbet Susiya has attracted worldwide
attention. Now bulldozers are set to displace its residents yet again
(Peter Beaumont, Guardian UK, 6/6/15)
Palestinian village Khirbet Susiya
under imminent threat of demolition
Susiya reflects Israeli authorities’ policy throughout Area C of West Bank
excerpt from Guardian UK article:
In the cool of evening, the Palestinian villagers of Khirbet Susiya go about their business.
A beekeeper in a protective suit and veil moves among his hives with a
smoke can. Others use the warm wind blowing from the nearby Negev
desert to separate rough legumes from chaff. Shepherds move their
animals across the low, rolling yellow hills while children run about
It appears a peaceful scene. Except that, for a third time in almost
three decades, the few hundred villagers who live in crude temporary
houses dotted about this area of the south Hebron hills of the occupied
West Bank are under imminent threat of a new forced displacement.
Last month an Israeli high court judge
ruled against the villagers’ injunction seeking to halt Israel’s
planned destruction of Khirbet Susiya. Now the village has become the
centre of a growing international campaign over its future which has
drawn in European diplomats and human rights campaigners.
Khirbet Susiya is home to between 250 and 350 villagers – depending on
the season – who live in around 100 structures and eke out an existence
largely from subsistence agriculture.
Built on a scrubby ridge of limestone pavement, the houses of Khirbet
Susiya are closely overlooked by a neighbouring Israeli settlement
built on land expropriated from the villagers – illegal under
international law – and, unlike the Palestinian village, connected to
public services. On the other side of the nearby road is an
archaeological site also run by settlers. Khirbet Susiya is sandwiched
It is this proximity – critics allege – that underlies Israeli plans to
move the villagers. The residents say that the destruction of their
homes would mean the latest in several forcible expulsions from their
land for which they have deeds going back to the Ottoman era.
In 1986 they were expelled from their original village and the
army expelled the residents again in 2001 during the second intifada.
While Israel claims the structures in Khirbet Susiya are illegal
because they were put up without building permits, critics say that
Israel’s civil administration has a policy of rarely issuing building
permits to non-Jews in Area C – the part of the occupied territories
under full Israeli administration. Although the Israeli court accepted
the villagers’ ownership of the land, it ruled that they did not have
permission to build there.
Seventy-year-old Mohammad Ahmad al-Nuwaja has lived on the land around
Susiya most of his life. “I was born in Tal Arad, but after the Nakba
[‘the catastrophe’ as Palestinians call the mass displacement that
occurred when Israel was founded] we moved here. We are the original
owners of this land,” he explains. “We have deeds from the Turkish time.
“They claim these houses were built
without permits. We have applied so many times and the Israelis
rejected permission. They claim we don’t have the infrastructure to
support living here, but they are the ones who won’t allow the
infrastructure. We were offered land in exchange for moving from here
near Yatta [the neighbouring town visible from Khirbet Susiya] but they
have no right.”
The long saga of Khirbet Susiya is symbolic of a wider problem of
demolition and displacement affecting unrecognised villages in both the
occupied Palestinian territories and Bedouin communities in Israel
itself. According to Rabbis for Human Rights, an Israeli NGO which has
been supporting the village in its efforts to get planning permission:
“The village of Palestinian Susiya has existed for centuries, long
before the establishment of the [Jewish settlement of Susiya in 1983.
There is documentary evidence of a settlement in the area dating back
to 1830, and it is also marked on British mandatory maps from 1917.”
There are indications, however, that the Israeli military intends to go
ahead with the demolition. The latest threat to Susiya was prompted by
a complaint three years ago by Regavim
, a rightwing Israeli NGO, which uses the courts to insist on the demolition of Palestinian buildings it argues are illegal.
Dore note: Regavim's motto is "Ensuring the responsible, legal and environmentally friendly use of Israel's national lands."
The villagers’ plight was described in a recent report by the Israeli
human rights organisation BT’selem. “The state has been abusing the
residents of Khirbet Susiya for many years: the army and the civil
administration have repeatedly removed the residents from their homes,
in which they have lived since before 1967, when Israel occupied the
“The [Israeli] civil administration is
responsible for all aspects of civilian life in area C and is
theoretically supposed to promote the wellbeing of the local
population. In practice, the administration uses its planning systems,
in which Palestinians are not represented, to prevent them from
promoting solutions that would meet their needs, barring them from
building legally and from connecting to water and power supplies.
US blocks push for Middle East nuclear arms ban
“The authorities also systematically refrain from protecting the
residents of Khirbet Susiya from settlers who attack them or vandalise
their property, and restrict their free access to the main town in the
Nasser Nuwaja is a resident who has been leading the campaign to save it.
“Since the court ruling, people here have gone to bed not knowing
whether the bulldozers would come in the morning. It is like trying to
balance on a chair with only one leg and not knowing when you will fall
off. People here are living on edge.”
And for now international pressure remains their best hope. “We’ve been
campaigning hard on this issue,” said one European diplomat.
“We are trying to put pressure on the Israeli government to prevent the demolition.”
Although the villagers will try to go to court again on 3 August many
are fearful the village will be destroyed and moved again. “God forbid
they demolish Susiya again,” says Nasser. “But if they do, we will