weekly feature includes news and opinion from the Middle East (and beyond) often ignored by the
mainstream media followed by music from the relevant country or culture.
was originally conceived to focus attention on relieving the
humanitarian crisis in Gaza which has been under a severe blockade
imposed by Israel since 2006. Gaza Corner has evolved to include the
Middle East, Magreb, Kurdistan and Turkey.
WFP Warns Of Food Crisis In Yemen
Amid Challenges In Reaching People
Bloody Trail of Civilian Death and Destruction Paved with Evidence of War Crimes in Southern Yemen
(Amnesty International Press Release, 8/17/15)
additional coverage of this report:
(Rick Gladstone, NY Times, 8/18/15)
(Al Jazeera, 8/18/15)
Yemeni Government Faces Choice
Between a Truce and Fighting On
(Shuaib Almosawa, Kareem Fahim and Somini Sengupt, NY Times 8/14/15)
Yemen 'already looks like Syria after five years of war
(Louisa Loveluck, Telegraph Uk, 8/19/15)
Young Yemenis walk past a tank
destroyed in clashes between Houthi and opposition forces in the
southern port city of Aden, Yemen Photo: EPA
A doctor's diary from Yemen tells the story
of the forgotten Arab war
(Leo Hornak, PRI's The World, 7/31/15)
Jihadis likely winners of Saudi Arabia's futile war
on Yemen's Houthi rebels
(Kareem Shaheen, Guardian UK, 7/7/15)
Yemen: another forgotten war?
Excellent interview with Brett Scott former Editor at the Yemen Times.
Brett provides valuable background and historical context.
(Komal Qureishi, dawn.com, 5/24/15)
(Dore notes are in parentheses)
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 Doctors Without Borders,
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.
In a report i
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.
On August 17 Amnesty International issue a 46 page (PDF file) report
titled: 'Nowhere Safe for Civilians': Airstrikes and Ground Attacks in Yemen
(press release here
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.
Contact Larry Cohler-Esses at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
* US, UK and Canada opposed Egyptian plan for nuclear-free region
* Israel is Middle East’s only nuclear-armed power
Pictures of the secret Dimona nuclear reactor in Israel,
showing where the plant has allegedly been camouflaged. Photograph: space imaging
has been stealing nuclear secrets and covertly making bombs since the
1950s. And western governments, including Britain and the US, turn a
blind eye. But how can we expect Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions if
the Israelis won't come clean?
combined excerpt from all 3 articles:
month-long review conference on the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT) ended in failure over disagreements on the issue of a
Middle East atomic weapons ban.
A senior Israeli official said on condition of anonymity:
“The United States kept its commitment to Israel by preventing a Middle
East resolution that would single out Israel and ignore its security
interests and the threats posed to it by an increasingly turbulent
In reality, neither US nor British intelligence believe Iran has decided to build a bomb.
Egypt, backed by other Arab and non-aligned states, proposed that the
UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, convene within 180 days a regional
conference on banning weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as called for
at the 2010 NPT review meeting.
Ban voiced disappointment that NPT parties were “unable to narrow their
differences on the future of nuclear disarmament or to arrive at a new
collective vision on how to achieve a Middle East zone free of nuclear
weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction (WMD)”.
Despite the fact that the Israel's nuclear programme has been an open
secret since a disgruntled technician, Mordechai Vanunu, blew the
whistle on it in 1986, the official Israeli position is still never to
confirm or deny its existence.
When the former speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg, broke the taboo
last year, declaring Israeli possession of both nuclear and chemical
weapons and describing the official non-disclosure policy as "outdated
and childish" a rightwing group formally called for a police
investigation for treason.
In an extraordinary feat of subterfuge, Israel managed to assemble an
entire underground nuclear arsenal – now estimated at about 200 nuclear
bombs and missile warheads – and even tested a bomb nearly half a
century ago, with a minimum of international outcry or even much public
awareness of what it was doing.
Meanwhile, western governments have played along with the policy of "opacity" by avoiding all mention of the issue.
But through the cracks in this stone wall, more and more details
continue to emerge of how Israel built its nuclear weapons from
smuggled parts and pilfered technology.
The tale serves as a historical counterpoint to today's drawn-out
struggle over Iran's nuclear ambitions. The parallels are not exact –
Israel, unlike Iran, never signed up to the 1968 NPT so could not
violate it. But it almost certainly broke a treaty banning nuclear
tests, as well as countless national and international laws restricting
the traffic in nuclear materials and technology.
list of nations that secretly sold Israel the material and expertise to
make nuclear warheads, or who turned a blind eye to its theft, include
today's staunchest campaigners against proliferation: the US, France,
Germany, Britain and even Norway.
Meanwhile, Israeli agents charged with buying fissile material and
state-of-the-art technology found their way into some of the most
sensitive industrial establishments in the world. This daring and
remarkably successful spy ring, known as Lakam, the Hebrew acronym for
the innocuous-sounding Science Liaison Bureau, included such colourful
figures as Arnon Milchan, a billionaire Hollywood producer behind such
hits as Pretty Woman, LA Confidential and 12 Years a Slave, who proudly
exclaimed in a recent Israeli documentary:
"Do you know what it's like to be a twentysomething-year-old kid [and]
his country lets him be James Bond? Wow! The action! That was exciting."
Israel had few qualms about proliferating nuclear weapons knowhow and
materials, giving South Africa's apartheid regime help in developing
its own bomb in the 1970s in return for 600 tons of uranium oxide,
known as yellowcake.
Israel's nuclear-weapons project could never have gotten off the
ground, though, without an enormous contribution from France. The
country that took the toughest line on counter-proliferation when it
came to Iran helped lay the foundations of Israel's nuclear weapons
programme, driven by by a sense of guilt over letting Israel down in
the 1956 Suez conflict, sympathy from French-Jewish scientists,
intelligence-sharing over Algeria and a drive to sell French expertise
In Dimona, French engineers poured in to help build Israel a nuclear
reactor and a far more secret reprocessing plant capable of separating
plutonium from spent reactor fuel. This was the real giveaway that
Israel's nuclear programme was aimed at producing weapons.
By the end of the 50s, there were 2,500 French citizens living in
Dimona, transforming it from a village to a cosmopolitan town and yet
the whole endeavour was conducted under a thick veil of secrecy.
The Israelis admitted to having a reactor but insisted it was for entirely peaceful purposes.
Throughout the 60s it flatly denied the existence of the underground
reprocessing plant in Dimona that was churning out plutonium for bombs.
Israel refused to countenance visits by the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA), so in the early 1960s President Kennedy demanded they
accept American inspectors. US physicists were dispatched to Dimona but
were given the run-around from the start.
The US physicists sent to Dimona were not allowed to bring their own
equipment or collect samples. Before each American visit, the
Israelis had built false walls around the row of lifts that descended
six levels to the subterranean reprocessing plant.
As more and more evidence of Israel's weapons programme emerged, the US
role progressed from unwitting dupe to reluctant accomplice.
The US policy continues to this day - most recently (as discussed above) blocking a proposal for
a nuclear free Middle East. Meanwhile Israel appears to be continuing to trade on the nuclear black market, albeit at much reduced volumes.
Avner Cohen, the author of two books on Israel's bomb, said that policy
of opacity in both Israel and in Washington is kept in place now
largely by inertia. "At the political level, no one wants to deal with
it for fear of opening a Pandora's box. It has in many ways become a
burden for the US, but people in Washington, all the way up to Obama
will not touch it, because of the fear it could compromise the very
basis of the Israeli-US understanding."
The Bedouin of Palmyra
It is from touching your thick calloused hand
I become aware
the sun that I merely look upon as day
sculpt your drought-inflicted skin.
You examine my palm
gently squeeze each finger
to comprehend my delicacy,
a consequence from the sheltering sky.
In the olive and palm tree grove
where the guttural gurgle of camels
linger in the night breeze,
an obscured brook languishes
with occasional shuffle among the leaves.
You observe the pregnancy of the predictable moon
while I fill my mouth with sugary dates.
“Maybe rain will make you restless”.
“Come now”, you said,
“I will never go beyond the desert.
Ancient stones are my chronicle
sand washes me clean
I feed on earth’s nectar
dreamless under the Bedouin sky.”
Dore and Musa in Palmyra in 2004
ISIS Seizes Historic Syrian City Palmyra
Some of the most beautiful and well-preserved ruins of antiquity
face destruction as forces loyal to Assad withdraw
(Kareem Shaheen, The Guardian UK, 5/21/15)
(photo by Clara Hsu)
ISIS seizes Syrian military base near Palmyra
as it consolidates grip on city
(Kareem Shaheen, The Guardian UK, 5/22/15)
Resident: ISIS is 'everywhere'
in full control of ancient Syrian city of Palmyra
Isis took Palmyra, a Silk Road hub of the ancient world and a Unesco world heritage site with magnificent ruins, on Wednesday.
Palmyra is home to some of the most magnificent ancient ruins from
antiquity, and its fall has led to fears that Isis fighters will
destroy much of its cultural heritage as they have done in historic
sites such as Nineveh.
The city already was a caravan oasis when Romans overtook it in the
mid-first century. Its importance grew as a city on the trade route
linking the Roman Empire to Persia, India and China, according to the
British historian and novelist Tom Holland has described Palmyra as "an
extraordinary fusion of classical and Iranian influences intermixed
with various Arab influence as well."
"Mesopotamia, Iraq, Syria, this is the wellspring of global
civilization," he said. "It really couldn't be higher stakes in terms
The Islamist extremists have shown no hesitation destroying such
history, propagandizing that destroying idols or false gods follows in
the footsteps of the Prophet Mohammed, who smashed statues in Mecca. In
fact, they've often made a show of it.
Besides destruction, ISIS could also try to profit from its rampage,
said Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle East studies at The London
School of Economics.
"They have networks that allow them to traffic in cultural treasures,"
adds Gerges, the author of the forthcoming book "ISIS: A Short
History." "They have made tens of millions of dollars selling artworks."
Isis has not released images of
any assault on Palmyra ruins. The militant group is also now in control
of two major gas fields near the city which supply the power stations
of western Syria.
The UN high commissioner for refugees said 11,000 civilians had fled
Palmyra since the Isis offensive began, settling in nearby villages.
The city was home to internally-displaced people from other areas of
Syria, many of them now fleeing again.
“People are arriving exhausted, scared and in increasing numbers,” said
Bhajat Al Arandas, an official with Al-Birr Society, which is working
with UNHCR to distribute aid to the refugees. “They fled their homes in
Palmyra and neighbouring villages with hardly anything and report there
is no water, electricity or working mobile phone network [in the city].”
But two-thirds of residents are believed to still be in Palmyra,
raising fears of retribution from Isis, which has already executed
members of a rebellious tribe called the Shaitat that it accused of
fighting alongside government forces.
The Assad regime had claimed that it evacuated most of the civilians in
Palmyra before withdrawing from the city. But citing what she said were
credible sources, UN spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said there were
reports of government forces preventing civilians from leaving until
they themselves fled and Isis took control of the city.
“Isil has reportedly been carrying out door-to-door searches in the
city, looking for people affiliated with the government. At least 14
civilians are reported to have been executed by Isil in Palmyra this
week,” she said, using another acronym for Islamic State.
The following is an excerpt from the
Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA)
"Each year on May 15th, Palestinians in
Palestine and around the world commemorate the Nakba or “catastrophe”—
the massive uprooting, terror, destruction and ethnic cleansing
that Zionist forces carried out in order to create a Jewish majority
Palestinian women in Galilee (now part of Israel)
Officially, this is the 67th anniversary of the Nakba but it actually
began in 1947, before the “Arab-Israeli War.” That year, 250,000
Palestinians—more than 25% of the population—were driven from their
land and their homes. A total of 800,000 Palestinians were driven out
or fled in terror; 531 villages were destroyed.
For Palestinian refugees there are two powerful symbols of the
Nakba. Many still hold the keys to their original homes, which
are handed down from one generation to the next. The keys
represent the hope and the commitment to realizing the right of return.
The other symbol is the tent, which is part of the refugees’ past,
present and a constant threat. In 67 years, Palestinian refugee camps
have grown enormously.
The original Nakba continues when the Israeli military bombs homes in
Gaza, when the Israeli government carries out “administrative
demolitions” of homes throughout East Jerusalem; when stateless
Palestinians, along with Syrians, flee the tragic war in Syria and are
forced to survive again in tents in neighboring countries.
Since MECA started in 1988 we have always stood with the people holding
the keys and struggling for their right of return. And our work
has always been focused on those surviving in tents or living with the
reality or the threat of displacement — especially children.
Today, we join Palestinians all around the world to commemorate the
Nakba and renew our commitment to refugees in Palestine and throughout
the Middle East. We know that justice is only possible when the right
of return becomes a reality.
fleeing to Lebanon during the ethnic cleansing 1948
(photo courtesy MECA)
For more about the Nakba:
Israel continues to criminalise marking Nakba Day
Activists now face difficulty in commemorating Palestinian dispossession
during Israel's founding due to Israeli law.(Patrick Strickland, Al Jazeera, 5/14/15)
Forced to leave grapes on the vine:
the open wounds of May 1948(Rami Almeghari, The Electronic Intifada, 5/14/15)
Nakba Day is not just about remembering -
it is about the Palestinians' return(Ben White, Middle-East Eye, 5/15/15)
67 years ago, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine unfolded through
expulsions, massacres, and demolitions. Hundreds of villages were
emptied, then levelled; centres of Palestinian urban life and community
disappeared; columns of refugees took flight at the barrel of a gun.
Israeli military attacks Nakba Day
A society was dismembered and fragmented. In the months and years after
1948, the army of the State of Israel, formed from the militias who had
occupied and 'cleansed' village after village, used bullets and
landmines to keep out the refugees trying to return home.
Nor is it just about remembering – it is also about the ongoing Nakba,
and resistance to the apartheid horror of Palestine today: the
systematic discrimination faced by Palestinians with Israeli
citizenship, the Gaza prison camp, the military regime and matrix of
control in the West Bank.
protests with live (Mondoweiss, 5/16/15)
Series on the Palestinian 'catastrophe' of 1948
that led to dispossession and conflict that still endures(click above to access Series)
"The Nakba did not begin in 1948. Its origins lie over two centuries ago…."
MECA Action:Help Dr. Mona El-Farra exit Gaza
and raise awareness of the ongoing blockade
Turks feat Saudi alliance will drag country into war in Syria
So begins this four-part series on the 'nakba', meaning the
'catastrophe', about the history of the Palestinian exodus that led to
the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, and the establishment of the state
Arab, Israeli and Western intellectuals, historians and eye-witnesses
provide the central narrative which is accompanied by archive material
and documents, many only recently released for the first time.
Opposition politicians in Turkey have charged President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan with leading Turkey to war in Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) is bid farewell by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud
after their meeting at Riyadh's Erga Palace in Saudi Arabia on March 2, 2015.
| Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Turkey has long been implicated in the depths of the Syrian crisis, the
Turkish public is newly anxious over claims that the Turkish Armed
Forces are preparing to invade Syria to set up a buffer zone following
the fall of Idlib in late March to the Al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat
Turkey's opposition party fears Erdogan might go to war in order to
cancel the upcoming legislative elections if Erdogan thinks he won't
get the 400 parliamentary seats he so covets.
Turkey's military is one of the most dominant in the region and second in size only to the U.S. within NATO.
The possibility of Turkey becoming a party to the Syrian civil war was
also being driven by eyewitness reports that weapons financed by Saudi
Arabia and others were entering Syria from Turkey and that Turkish
units were deploying along the border.
A military source along Hatay’s border, where the massing of Turkish
troops is visible, told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that there
are no preparations for a cross-border operation.
Mehmet Ali Edipoglu, CHP parliamentary foreign relations committee
member, said, “There have been military movements toward the border for
the past two months. Then came the fall of Idlib. That war was 15
kilometers [9 miles] from our border. Of course there is a possibility
of Turkey entering the war in Syria. But I think, instead of Syria, it
is more likely that we will enter Iraq for the Mosul operation. Our
army is not happy with our Syria policy. The soldiers are very uneasy
about this. I don’t think that such a war is likely.”
It is no secret that despite a long history of rivalry, Turkey has
built momentum with the Saudis if not to enter Syria now, then to
galvanize a proxy war that in the long term could be even more
perilous. After meetings with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud
during a visit to Riyadh Feb. 28-March 2, Erdogan had told journalists
that they had agreed to boost support to the Syrian opposition to allow
them to produce results.
agreement stipulated that in return for Turkey’s support of the Saudi
operation against Yemen, the two countries would join forces against
the Syrian regime and form a bloc to counter Iranian influence in the
region. Given the Saudi-Turkish agreement, the surge in activity along
the Turkish-Syrian border cannot be a coincidence. The fall of Idlib
followed palpable new military activity. According to one claim,
developments in Syria are being managed from the Antakya Operations
Room under the control of US and Turkish intelligence officials.
The ongoing rapprochement between Turkey and Saudi Arabia also includes
a softening of the Saudi's hostility toward the Muslim Brotherhood, a
key sticking point for Turkey.
Aaron Stein, a Turkey expert at the London-based Royal United Services
Institute, said Saudi King Salman has led a strategic shift to align
his country more closely with Turkey and Qatar on Syria policy, with a
focus on uniting Islamist fighters to battle both the Syrian regime and
Islamic State extremists.
“He may dislike [the Muslim Brotherhood]," Stein said of the Saudi
king, "but he has realized that the war against them was dividing the
Arab world, and preventing unity on key Saudi foreign policy goals like
rolling back Iran and defeating Assad -- which the Kingdom views as
being one and the same.”
Riyadh and Ankara have shared the goal of arming Assad's opposition
since the early days of the Syrian civil war, which has now been going
on for four years. But relations between the two have frayed as they
have repeatedly found themselves on opposite sides of other regional
conflicts such as Israel's most recent war in Gaza which Erdogan
characterized as "genocide by israel" while the Saudis refrained from
publicly criticizing Israel.
Existence of the Saudi-Turkish partnership was exposed by the use of
TOW anti-tank missiles against regime forces at Idlib and confirmed by
the Syrian opposition.
observers believe that the unlikely cooperation between Saudi Arabia
and Turkey has been spurred in part by the perception that Iran and the
U.S. are moving closer together.
Beyond the nuclear framework agreement that Iran reached with six world
powers earlier this month, Iran-backed forces and the U.S. have also
been in a tacit alliance against the Islamic State in Iraq. By propping
up Shiite militias there, Iran has played a major role in the effort to
retake Iraqi territory from the militant group.
"It’s an alliance that’s being forced by the perceived success of the
Iranians,” said Firas Abi Ali, a Middle East senior manager at the risk
analysis firm IHS, referring to the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia
and Turkey on the issue of Syria.
Ali added that without international sanctions, Iran would likely be doing even more to help Assad.
“Iran has been engaged in Syria with one hand tied behind its back as a
result of the sanctions," he said. "Without that constraint, the
perception among the Sunni states -- Turkey and Saudi Arabia -- would
be that they need to contribute significantly more to match what they
fear will be an increased Iranian commitment."
Will the alleged efforts succeed in dragging Turkey into a military
adventure? Many people following developments believe that in light of
the mechanisms imposing moderation and oversight in Turkey being in
disarray, only tactical objections by the military can rule out such an
eventuality. The objections of the military can best be summed up as
follows: If Turkey enters, it can’t exit. The war will spread to the
Palestinians inspect a damaged classroom of the UN school in Jabalia, northern Gaza, in July. Photograph:Mohammed Saber/EPA
Israel responsible for Gaza strikes
on UN schools and shelters, inquiry finds
condemns attacks, including strike on UN school that killed 20 people
and wounded dozens, ‘as a matter of the utmost gravity’
(Peter Beaumont, Guardian UK, 4/27/15)
A Palestinian girl cries while receiving treatment for her injuries caused by an Israeli strike.
Photograph: Khalil Hamra/AP
a closer look at Israeli strikes on UNRWA
UN-run schools acting as civilian shelters have been hit seven times during Israel’s Gaza offensive. We catalogue them in detail
"It is a moral outrage and a criminal act.” – UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon (Raya Jalabi, Tom McCarthy and Nadja Popovich, Guadian UK, 8/8/14)
excerpt from (top) 4/27/15 article:
Israel was responsible for striking
seven United Nations sites used as civilian shelters during the 2014
Gaza war and within those seven UN sites 44 Palestinians died and 227
others were injured. This is the conclusion of an inquiry ordered
by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.
More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed
during the Gaza conflict last July and August. Sixty-seven Israeli
soldiers and six civilians in Israel were killed by rockets and attacks
by Hamas and other militant groups.
Releasing the report last Monday, Ban condemned the attacks “as a
matter of the utmost gravity” and said “those who looked to them for
protection and who sought and were granted shelter there had their
hopes and trust denied”.
Ban insisted that UN locations were “inviolable”.
The issue is particularly sensitive as the locations of all UN
buildings – including schools used as shelters – are routinely provided
to the Israeli military and updated in times of conflict.
Ban’s criticism was contained in the published summary letter of a
confidential internal report, commissioned by the secretary general in
November, running to 207 pages.
There is a link to a 3:00 video where Ban-Ki-moon states "nothing more shameful than attacking sleeping children".
Although the report has no legal status,
the disclosure of the inquiry’s findings comes at a difficult time for
Israel on the international stage, facing increasing international
isolation over its policies and following the acceptance of the
Palestinian Authority as a signatory to the International Criminal
Court earlier this month.
The attacks on UN schools being used as shelters were among some of the
most controversial incidents of the war.
International humanitarian law
– while complex – requires attacking forces in areas where there are
non-combatants to protect civilians and adhere to the principle of
proportionality, safeguards even more stringent when civilians are
under UN protection.
In one of the most serious incidents, the UNRWA school in Jabaliya was
struck by Israeli fire, killing 20 people and wounding dozens.
In another incident that saw Israeli munitions strike a UN school in
Beit Hanoun 15 Palestinians were killed in the playground as they
awaited evacuation while dozens more injured.
Israeli sources had originally tried to suggest that the attack had been due to a Hamas weapon falling short.
The UN inquiry – separate form an inquiry launched by the UN Human
Rights Council – was headed by retired general Patrick Cammaert, a
former officer in the Dutch military and included military and legal
The details of the contents of the board of inquiry are confidential
and only Ban’s covering letter has been made public. Conceding that the
report was of “considerable interest” he said he had taken the decision
to release a summary of the inquiry’s findings.
When Ban visited Gaza in October, he
said the destruction was “beyond description” and “much more serious”
than what he witnessed in the Palestinian territory in 2009 in the
aftermath of Israel's Operation Cast Lead.
ISIS executes three Eritrean asylum seekers deported by Israel
It should be noted
the three victims signed “voluntary departure” forms, although most
asylum seekers and NGOs see this as another form of deportation, since
the other option afforded to asylum seekers is indefinite detention at
Holot in the middle of the Negev Desert.
government recently announced its intention to begin forcefully
deporting Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers. Refugee organizations
are concerned that the state refuses to reveal its back channel deals
with “third countries,” and worry that those same countries will not
guarantee the safety of asylum seekers.
Likud minister: Drowning of migrants justifies Israeli policy
Just one day after
950 asylum seekers drown on their way to Italy, Israel’s transportation
minister praises the government for preventing migrants from entering
Ban said on Monday he has established a group of senior managers to
look into the inquiry’s recommendation. A number of questions remain
unaddressed in the summary of the report, not least the issue of what
communications there were between UN staff and the Israeli military in
particular ahead of the attack on the school in Beit Hanoun when UN
staff are understood to have communicated to Israeli forces their
intention to bus out civilians who were waiting for evacuation at the
time of the attack.
Also unaddressed is why Israeli forces fired on designated protected
locations outside of the principle of immediate self-defence when they
were aware of concentrations of civilians sheltering there.
Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNRWA, which runs Gaza’s UN schools said:
“The inquiry found that despite numerous notifications to the Israeli
army of the precise GPS coordinates of the schools and numerous
notifications about the presence of displaced people, in all seven
cases investigated by the Board of Inquiry when our schools were hit
directly or in the immediate vicinity, the hit was attributable to the
“The board confirms the use by the IDF of weaponry such as 120 mm high
explosive anti-tank projectiles and 155 MM high explosive projectiles
on or in the surrounding area of UNRWA schools where civilians had
taken refuge. In the incidents investigated at least 44 people were
killed and 227 injured including women and children. In none of the
schools which were hit directly or in the immediate vicinity, were
weapons discovered or fired from. If it were confirmed that militants
did fire rockets from our schools we would condemn it, just as we
robustly we condemned other violations of our neutrality.”
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz
(Likud) sees lessons for Israeli policy in the tragic massacre of 700
asylum seekers who drowned when their vessel capsized on Sunday in the
Mediterranean Sea. Posting a photo showing rows of corpses brought to
shore by rescue workers, Katz wrote the following caption,
which is translated here from Hebrew:
“Hundreds of migrants from Africa drowned to death close to Italy in a
disaster that horrified all human beings. Europe is having a difficult
time dealing with the migrants, and with creating solutions for this
difficult issue. While there are differences between us (the migrants
traveling to Europe must cross a sea while those heading for Israel
have a direct overland connection), you can see the rectitude of our
government’s policy to build a fence on the border with Egypt, which
blocks the job-seeking migrants before they enter Israel. The elections
are over — you can give us some credit now.”
Only four days earlier, Katz published a sombre Facebook statusabout
Holocaust Remembrance Day (with a gratuitous claim that Israel now
faces another Holocaust — i.e., from Iran’s nuclear program).
Katz seems not to remember some basic historical information about
events leading up to and immediately after the Holocaust. When Israeli
and Jewish schoolchildren around the world are taught about the Shoah,
one of the most-emphasized points is that the Jews trying to escape the
Nazis were denied refuge by nearly every country in the world. And that
the Nazi regime felt it had carte blanche to carry out its genocide
because the world had demonstrated its indifference to the fate of the
Jews. They are taught about the 1938 Evian Conference, initiated by
Franklin D. Roosevelt, which brought together representatives of 32
states for over a week in that Swiss resort town to discuss the
possibility of taking in more refugees from Germany and Austria, which
were then the only two countries under Nazi rule. But none would agree
to expand their quotas. After the war, Jewish survivors of the death
camps who tried to make their way to Palestine by boat were turned away
and forcibly interned by the British army on the nearby island of
The comparisons are so obvious that they should not need mentioning.
They should be obvious to the government of Israel, and to Yisrael Katz
specifically. Israel is a country that uses the Holocaust to justify its policies
even its very existence — but somehow politicians like Netanyahu, Katz,
Miri Regev and others seem to believe that compassion begins and ends
Katz demonstrates an almost pathological
lack of compassion with his gleeful-sounding status, in which he makes
political capital of a catastrophe.
Pre-army students to Netanyahu:
Over the past few years, Israel has treated the asylum seekers from
sub-Saharan African very badly. It has refused to consider their
refugee status, refused to grant them the right to work
legally,imprisoned them and deported them by force.
Israel is not the only country to treat asylum seekers badly. In Europe
and in the United States, governments dither over refugees because
right-wing, populist and racist opposition politicians have put them on
the defensive. But in Israel those right-wing, populist and racist
politicians are the government.
Stop deportation of refugees
Over 130 students
from pre-military academies send a letter to the prime minister,
calling on him to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and put an end to
Israel’s policy of deporting Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers.
Israel to indefinitely imprison asylum seekers
who refuse deportation
In a move
unprecedented in Western countries, Israel’s outgoing interior minister
announces plan to compel asylum seekers to leave the country. Israel’s
High Court has repeatedly struck down laws that authorized the
indefinite detention of asylum seekers.
Israel has granted refugee status
to 0.07% of African asylum seekers
Israel has not
granted a single Sudanese asylum seeker refugee status, in spite of a
wave of migrants fleeing violence, according to official state
statistics, submitted to the High Court of Justice on February 16. In
all, the government has granted refugee status to only 0.07% of the
5,573 Sudanese and Eritreans who have applied for asylum in the country—
a mere four individuals.
African imigrants speak out about life
in Israel's detention centres
includes a 7 minute documentary which captures the lives of Sudanese
and Eritrean refugees living in limbo in Israel.
NBC News Alters Account Of
Correspondent’s Kidnapping In Syria
2012, numerous American factions were pushing for U.S. intervention in
Syria to bring down the regime of Bashar Assad, who throughout the War
on Terror had helped the U.S. in all sorts of ways, including torturing
people for them. But by then, Assad was viewed mostly as an ally of
Iran, and deposing him would weaken Tehran, the overarching regional
strategy of the U.S. and its allies. The prevailing narrative was thus
created that those fighting against Assad were “moderate”
with the leading one dubbed “the Free Syrian Army.”
As it turns out, the “moderate” “Free Syrian Army” was largely a myth
according to Greenwald. By far, the most effective fighting forces
against Assad were anything but “moderate,” composed instead of various
Al Qaeda manifestations and even more extreme elements.
In December 2012 – as the pro-intervention cause was strengthening – a
group of six journalists working for NBC News, including its star
international reporter Richard Engel, was kidnapped inside Syria. They
were held for five days, threatened with death, treated inhumanely, and
forced to record a video in which Engel was made to call for an end to
U.S. involvement in Syria. Scrawled on the walls of the room where the
video was recorded was graffiti of pro-Assad messages along with
well-known Shiite references.
Journalists working for NBC including Richard Engel on far left held in detention
during an elaborate kidnapping ruse by Syrian rebels. Click photo for video.
obvious intent was to make it appear that these NBC journalists had
been kidnapped and mistreated by Shiite forces associated with Assad.
Once they were released, Engel quickly gave numerous interviews
including the "Today" show just hours after emerging. Engel
's unequivocal narrative was that the captors were aligned with Assad
and that he was rescued by anti-Assad forces. That then became
unquestioned fact on NBC.
Engel appeared on the Rachel Maddow show on December 21.
Engel described how the rebel commander heroically tried to sacrifice
his own life to save the journalists, but to no avail: the
“pro-government forces” brutalized, tortured and threatened the
reporters and even executed some of the rebels."
The ordeal ended, Engel said, only when his pro-government captors
accidentally ran into a rebel checkpoint, where the rebels heroically
killed some of Assad’s forces and freed the journalists, treating them
with great compassion.
Three days earlier, in a December 18 appearance on Maddow's show, Engel
– after describing how brutal and inhumane his captors were – actually
linked them to both Iran and Hezbollah in response to a question from
There were ample reasons at the time to be suspicious that this was a
scam (perpetrated on (not by) Engel and his fellow captives) to blame
Assad for the abduction. There was skepticism expressed by some
independent analysts – although not on NBC News. According to Glenn
Greenwald the brilliant political science professor and blogger As'ad AbuKhalil, (angryarab.blogspot.com) was highly skeptical from the start about the identity of Engel’s captors.
AbuKhalil himself examined the video and wrote:
"I looked at the video and it is so clearly a set up and the slogans
are so clearly fake and they intend to show that they were clearly
Shi’ites and that they are savages."
As it turns out, that seems to be exactly what happened. On April 15 Engel posted a new statement on the NBC news website where he wrote:
“The group that kidnapped us was Sunni, not Shia” and that “the group
that freed us” – which he had previously depicted as heroic anti-Assad
rebels – actually “had ties to the kidnappers.”
Several rebels and others with detailed knowledge of the episode said
that the safe release of NBC’s team was staged after consultation with
rebel leaders when it became clear that holding them might imperil the
rebel efforts to court Western support.
Nobody can blame Engel – a courageous reporter, fluent in Arabic – for falling for what appears to be a well-coordinated ruse.
the same is most certainly not true of NBC News executives. In writing
his new account, Engel does not mention the most important and most
incriminating aspect of the New York Times reporting: that NBC
officials knew at the time that there was reason to be highly skeptical
of the identity of the captors, but nonetheless allowed Engel and
numerous other NBC and MSNBC reporters to tell this story with
virtually no questioning.
The NY Times states that “Mr. Engel’s team was almost certainly taken
by a Sunni criminal element affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the
loose alliance of rebels opposed to Mr. Assad.” That rebel group is
“known as the North Idlib Falcons Brigade” and is “led by two men, Azzo
Qassab and Shukri Ajouj.” NBC executives knew that this was at
least very possible even during Engel’s kidnapping, and yet the NY
"NBC executives were informed of Mr. Ajouj and Mr. Qassab’s possible
involvement during and after Mr. Engels’s captivity. Still, the network
moved quickly to put Mr. Engel on the air with an account blaming
Shiite captors and did not present the other possible version of
In other words, NBC executives at least had ample reason to suspect
that it was anti-Assad rebels who staged the kidnapping, not pro-Assad
forces. Yet they allowed Engel and numerous other NBC and MSNBC
personalities repeatedly and unequivocally to blame the Assad regime
and glorify the anti-Assad rebels, and to link the kidnapping to
Iran and Hezbollah, all with no indication that there were other quite
NBC refused to respond to the NY Times and The Intercept's questions about that.
believes this Engel story is about what appears to be a reckless
eagerness, if not deliberate deception, on the part of NBC officials to
disseminate a dubious storyline which, at the time, was very much in
line with the story which official Washington was selling.
About this story, Professor AbuKhalil emailed this comment:
"This is a culture: they all were part of a charade to promote and
champion the Free Syrian Army when that very army was kidnapping
innocent Lebanese Shi’ites and killing people on sectarian grounds."
He also passed along an email from a Western correspondent based in the
region, asking not to be identified, who said: “Everybody knew that it
was a Sunni group tied to the [Free Syrian Army] that had kidnapped
[Engel] from the moment it happened: people were talking about it in
South Turkey, journalists, opposition people.”
Yet Richard Engel in his April 15th mea culpa states that once he
learned from the NY Times that the kidnapping may have been an
elaborate ruse he "spoke to multiple U.S. law enforcement and
intelligence sources who had direct knowledge of our case. They all
said they did not doubt our story back in 2012 or anytime since."
(Dore note: which suggests Engel's intelligence sources are lying or maybe not so intelligent.)
noted above, Engel claimed repeatedly that the anti-Assad rebels killed
some of his pro-government captors when rescuing him. He stated the
same thing in a Vanity Fair article he wrote recounting his kidnapping.
But as the New York Times notes, Engel now acknowledges that he never
saw a body.
Origin of Islamic State Yarmouk Attack
past five months there has been a wave of assassinations inside Yarmouk
Camp which targeted a diverse group of individuals. They were all
killed professionally and mysteriously, and included activists
affiliated to Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian factions. This wave
was finally confronted with the assassination of Yahya Hourani (aka Abu
Suhaib), a former Hamas official in Yarmouk, and a leading medical aid
Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM), which is linked to Hamas, first accused IS in the
nearby al-Hajar al-Aswad area of orchestrating the murder, then
detained IS members. Within twenty-four hours, IS raided the camp and
besieged the Diaspora Office which is run by ABM. IS quickly took
control of most of the southern parts of Yarmouk, which had previously
been under the control of al-Nusra Front, sparking suggestions that
there had been a prior agreement between the two groups about allowing
scenario unfolds for the Palestinian fighters, Yarmouk Camp’s future
looks bleak, irrespective of whether IS controls it fully or partially,
or whether it is recovered by the Palestinian groups – either ABM or
some faction loyal to the Syrian regime. Palestinians in Yarmouk will
continue to pay a heavy price until the Syrian crisis reaches a stable
and permanent outcome, or major changes take place in the battlefield
in southern Damascus. If IS remains in control of parts of the camp, an
increasing number of civilians will attempt to leave, as IS’s
indifference to the popular sentiment will alienate more people and
make their daily lives even more miserable.
Yarmouk destruction April 2015 photo by AFP
When the Islamic State (IS) group
entered Yarmouk in southern Damascus lApril 1, the Palestinian refugee
camp was thrust back into the media spotlight.
Caught between the rockets of Syrian government forces and IS, factions
inside Yarmouk, chiefly the (anti-Syrian regime) Palestinian group
Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis (ABM), fought fierce gun battles with IS.
With concern over the fate of the camp growing, the PLO sent a
delegation from the West Bank to Syria to discuss the plight of the
refugees with Syrian authorities. An initial statement from PLO
official Ahmad Majdalani said that Palestinian factions had agreed to
cooperate with Syrian government forces inside the camp to counter IS.
However, another statement released shortly afterwards from the PLO
leadership in Ramallah contradicted this, saying that they refused to
be drawn into military actions.
Residents of Yarmouk offer a very different version of events.
“Palestinian militias allied to Bashar
al-Assad like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General
Command [PFLP-GC] are the ones who dragged the camp into the Syrian
conflict,” 30-year-old journalist Ahmad, a resident of the camp, told
Middle East Eye via Skype on Thursday. (Dore note: Ahmad's last name
and journalist credential is not provided).
“Before, the camp was a safe haven, a
neutral zone for people in the areas around it," Ahmad said. "These
militias, led by PFLP-GC’s Ahmad Jibril, are the ones who began
kidnapping and arresting activists within and around the camp and
handing them over to the regime.”
Anwar Abdul Hadi, a PLO official based in the government-controlled
capital of Damascus, said on Sunday that 2,000 people were evacuated
from the camp to the capital under the protection of the Syrian army.
Shaml Media, a Palestinian media network in Syria, was the first to
contest the PLO’s claims, tweeting out that only 180 people left
Sources within the camp who spoke to various humanitarian organisations
within Yarmouk told MEE that approximately 200 people left on the day
the PLO issued its statement.
“They weren’t evacuated,” said Ahmad. “I can confirm that the regime
forces did not offer a safe passage for the ‘evacuation’ of the
refugees. Rather, the refugees took refuge outside the camp.”
"Here in southern Damascus we are under siege but there are 6 or 7
neighborhoods that are linked to each other. It is possible to move
from one to another, like moving from island to island. This is what
southern Damascus is like" said a Yarmouk resident.
It remains unclear as to how exactly the 200 residents managed to make it to the government-controlled part of the capital.
“No one goes to the regime-controlled entrances,” Ahmad explained.
“It’s just not checkpoints they’ve erected; it’s an entire
battleground, with snipers ready to shoot at anything moving.”
Presence of IS exploited by factions for media
Salim Salamah of the Yarmouk emergency
team and based in Sweden, admitted to the confusion surrounding the
news of the residents fleeing.
“We need to distinguish between two things,” he said. “The displacement
of the people from the camp within southern Damascus and the
displacement of the people from the camp to outside, who are now in the
Ahmad said that Yarmouk, a 2.11-square-km area (less than a sq
mile) that used to house 160,000 people are now reduced to around
Since IS entered Yarmouk on April 1, a total of 4,000 residents had
fled to nearby neighbourhoods. "Most of the people that managed to
leave are now living in schools or in the streets," Ahmad added.
Military entry will bring further death
Anger at the PLO has risen in the camp, especially since the
announcement that Palestinian officials would be meeting with Syrian
authorities who Yarmouk residents see as responsible for the camp’s
Fawzi Hameed, the head of the civil society organisations in Yarmouk,
stated that a military solution would only bring more devastation.
“We stress that the entry of the military will bring about further death and destruction and is not the solution,” he said.
Analysts say that the renewed attention
that Yarmouk is now under masks the complicity of both pro- and
anti-government factions that contributed to Yarmouk's demise.
“Everyone is trying to profit from the camp’s suffering,” Ahmad said.
“They all want to turn Yarmouk into a Kobane to achieve their victories
on the backs of the flesh of the civilians,” referring to the Kurdish
city that garnered major media attention after IS overran the city and
the US-led military coalition started a bombing campaign against the
Speaking through Skype, Ahmad halted a few times as the whining of a
Syrian military plane sounded overhead. After a couple of loud booms,
he apologised and said he would call back later as he had to move to
the lower ground of the house he was in.
“One thing we have to be mindful of is that the presence of the Islamic
State in Yarmouk provides other sides, the opposition factions and the
government regime alike, to exploit the media in a favourable way,” he
“There are limited battles on the outskirts but IS did not enter the camp - this is all for the media" claims Ahmad.
Meanwhile the media has turned a blind eye to the government forces’
role in starving Yarmouk’s residents in favour of intensive reporting
on the army’s alleged military proposition to enter the camp in order
to repel IS. Yet Yarmouk’s residents maintain that the biggest threat
they encounter is from the Syrian military airstrikes on the camp.
“Media sources have reported that there
are massacres and mass beheadings in Yarmouk,” said Abu Ahmad Huwari,
the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Body for Yarmouk
camp, pointing out that this has caused families who were previously
displaced from the camp to panic. (Dore note: two beheadings have been
“We in Yarmouk assert that there is no truth to these reports, and we
confirm as civil society organisations that there are airstrikes that
kill civilians, and that we will remain in the camp in order to ensure
a dignified life and to ensure the return for our families,” he
declared. “We will not leave the camp despite the barrel bombs or the
gun battles. We will only leave if we go back to our land in Palestine.
For now, we demand a safe passage so that food and medical supplies can
enter for our people.”
Aerial bombings biggest danger
Ahmad dismissed claims of an IS takeover of the camp.
“Here I am, talking to you and smoking,”
he said. “I can go down to the store in the street and buy a pack of
cigarettes, and I won’t be beheaded by IS because I am not living in
2 short films made inside Yarmouk by Palestinian youth:
“They didn’t impose their rule and declare Yarmouk as part of their
caliphate,” he added. “Their presence should not be confused with
controlling the camp.”
The airstrikes remain the biggest danger to the civilians.”
“More than 30 barrel bombs targeted the camp in the last nine
days,” Salim Salamah said. “On Wednesday night 16 barrel bombs fell on
the camp, including one that targeted Palestine Hospital. These aerial
bombardments are extremely destructive and are in no way comparable to
the ground invasion of IS.”
“If medical and food supplies don’t enter the camp within the next 48 hours, the result will be beyond tragic,” he said.
This film is the outcome of a workshop via Skype with twelve young
Palestinians under siege in Yarmouk. This film expresses four daily
realities of this siege. While finalizing the film, the situation in
Yarmouk worsened and it became difficult for them to meet together.
Following the attack on Yarmouk by IS last week people involved in the
making of the film were killed as detailed below.
Pasted from the closing credits:
During the four months it took to make this film, Abed one of the
filmmakers, lost his father to a regime sniper. Another of the
filmmakers, Abdallah, was subject to a kidnapping attempt. Jamal
Khalife, one of the filmmakers, was killed during the attack of IS on
Yarmouk camp. (Jamal was also one of the filmmakers on the film
"Blue".) Firas Naji, coordinator of Wahid Center, was assassinated in
his home. Wahid Center was the main partner in making this film.
This is just a small glimpse of the siege on Southern Damascus.
Blue is a moving film about a young pianist who rolls his worn piano on
a cart into the middle of a street in Yarmouk, and plays amid rubble
and mortar shells falling.
Islamic State Seizes Palestinian Refugee Camp in Syria
(Anne Barnard, NY Times, 4/4/15)
ISIL seizes most of Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp
Thousands of Palestinian refugees trapped in the Damascus camp,
where heavy shelling has been reported since Wednesday
(Al Jazeera/AP, 4/04/14)
Thousands of Palestinian refugees queuing to receive food in Yarmouk camp, Damascus, Syria.
18,000 Palestine refugees remain trapped in the Yarmouk neighbourhood of Damascus
”To know what it is like in Yarmouk, turn off your electricity, water,
heating, eat once a day, live in the dark, live by burning wood”
Anas, Yarmouk resident.(unrwa.org/crisis-in-yarmouk; March 2014)
Syria: ISIL Conquest of Yarmouk Palestinian Camp
refutes Israeli Propaganda(Juan Cole Blog, 4/2/15)
Yarmuk Refugee Camp
and the Syrian Uprising:
A View from Within(Nidal Bitari, palestine-studies.org, Vol 43, 2013/2014)
combined source excerpt:
(Al Jazeera, AP, UNRWA, NY Times, Reuters, Juan Cole, Nidal Bitari and Dore Stein)
It's been a heavy week for news coming
out of the Middle East dominated by the framework for a nuclear
agreement with Iran, Palestine attaining membership of the
International Criminal Court and Saudi Arabia launching an air war on
Yemen along with other Gulf and north African countries, with
logistical support from the U.S.
However, mainstream American news sources did not include an alarming
news story that will be the focus of this Gaza Corner. Even
prominent public radio programs such as National Public Radio's Morning
Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition Saturday and PRI's The
World (from doing searches on their websites), all failed to
cover the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe of 18,000 Palestinian
civilian refugees trapped within less than a square mile in Damascus,
This past Wednesday the Islamic State (IS) fighters launched a
lightning assault on the Yarmouk camp. Yarmouk is an "unofficial"
refugee camp and was home to the largest Palestinian refugee community
in Syria. Yarmouk is just six miles from downtown Damascus, marking
IS's deepest foray yet into Syria's capital. Human Rights groups
say IS now controls 90% of the camp.
click above to enlarge
First built for Palestinians fleeing the
1948 Arab-Israeli war, Yarmouk was once considered to be the de facto
capital of the Palestinian refugee diaspora. Yarmouk prospered as a
safe haven for Palestinians. Prior to the Syrian civil war, it
had more than 150,000 refugees living there. It had been a bustling
commercial center with a huge market with its own mosques, schools and
public buildings. Though people still refer to it as a “camp”, tents
were replaced with solid housing soon after its founding in 1957. As
well as being home to Syria’s largest community of Palestinian
refugees, it also housed some 650,000 Syrians.
Prior to the IS attack, Yarmouk has been under a brutal government
siege the last two years. It is a prison for its remaining residents,
who survive on little food and water, with no hope of escape.
The fate of the 18,000 Palestinian civilians is unknown (the number is
approximate as it includes anywhere between 1,000 and 4,000 Syrians) as
civilians are trapped amid intense shelling and clashes. The Syrian
regime reacted to the attack by adding it’s own barrage of artillery
into the mix, adding to the civilian casualty count. A local
activist reported: “The regime forces are shelling the camp with
mortars. They hit the emergency entrance for Palestine hospital. Some
civilians were killed from it.”
Earlier today in what was described as "Breaking News" Reuters
and the New York Times showed video
with footage uploaded to social
media that purports to show surface-to-surface missile launches by
Syrian regime forces targeting the Yarmouk refugee camp.
On Thursday, April 2, the day after IS entered Yarmouk, this urgent call to action
The IS attack came days before a deal to
ease the humanitarian situation for civilians in the camp was set to
come into operation.
Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker said that
despite calls from the United Nations and activists, the Syrian
government was unlikely to open a humanitarian corridor for 18,000
civilians who are still in the camp.
"It is a complex situation. The government forces control the northern
part [of the camp] towards Damascus. It is their priority to keep the
capital safe," said Dekker. "The fact that ISIL fighters are less than
10km away is of a huge concern. If they allow a humanitarian corridor,
who will be coming out?"
There are reports that mosques are blaring calls for blood donations in
the areas surrounding the camp as hospitals received wounded civilians
Among the 18,000 civilians trapped in Yarmouk are 3500 children.
There are 560,000 Palestinian refugees living in 12 Palestinian refugee
camps in Syria - 95%, or 480,000 have been unable to escape
and are still there in the midst of this horrific war.
In a detailed March 5 Guardian UK article
article by Jonathan Steel, he
described Yarmouk "as a refugee camp designed as a safe haven for the
Palestinian diaspora that had become the worst place on earth.
electricity for months. No piped water. No access for food. Worse
still, no chance for people to leave or return." Some called it
Syria’s Gaza, but its plight was even worse.
Yarmouk has been under a government-imposed blockade since
mid-2013. It grabbed international attention more than a year ago after
images emerged of emaciated children and gaunt adults wasting away
under the toll of the siege. (click for article
Baby Israa al-Masri died of a hunger-related illness on January 11, 2014 in the Yarmouk camp [AP]
The U.N. has said more than 100 people have died there from starvation
and illnesses exacerbated by hunger or lack of medical aid. Tests
conducted in 2014 on a random sample of patients found that 40% had
In October 2013, in a sign of how bad things had become, the imam of
Yarmouk’s largest mosque issued a fatwa that permitted people to eat
cats, dogs and donkeys.
Since 6 December, the siege has once again become impassable as UNRWA
reports that it has not been able to deliver any food at all.
Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the UNRWA for Palestinian Refugees
described the situation in the camp before the attack as "beyond dire".
"Since July 2013 there has been an almost total siege, there's been almost no water, no electricity," he said.
"We have reports of women dying in childbirth through lack of medicines, we have reports of children starving to death."
UNWRA's website has a page called Save Yarmouk and these quotes under a heading Voices fr Yarmouk:
”To know what it is like in Yarmouk, turn off your electricity, water,
heating, eat once a day, live in the dark, live by burning wood” –
Anas, Yarmouk resident.
"Most houses have no doors or windows, and in the snow storm life
became harder. We depend on radishes and lettuce and green things grown
in the camp, but those food items had frozen. The water pipe exploded
because of the snow." – Raed'a.
"There is no wood, we are burning furniture and clothes to keep warm.
People have burned their bedrooms, chairs, living rooms. We are burning
things which are not purely wood, which has caused many health
problems." - Ra'eda.
"The most difficult thing is when my kids get up in the morning and ask
for milk and bread and it is not available and I have to give them a
radish or some vegetable, and sometimes that is not available." – Mahd.
"At 7am I walk one kilometer to get water for my home. I usually spend
five hours a day collecting water, but I only collect water every five
days because it is only available every five days."
– Aziz, aged 10
The day after IS entered Yarmouk, prominent writer and journalist Juan Cole
wrote a blog
which provides essential historical context:
"On Wednesday, the extremist Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) group, known for its
brutal beheadings and mass murder, took over the Yarmouk Palestinian
refugee camp inside Damascus city limits. Palestinian women and
Christians and male secularists are at special risk now. Had they been
living normally in their homes in what is now Israel, with their own
state, they would not have been left vulnerable to this fate. Refugees
and stateless people not only have no courts or armies to defend their
rights, they are not even recognized as having the right to have rights.
The Israelis ethnically cleansed three fifths of the Palestinians of
British Mandate Palestine in 1947-48, creating enormous refugee crises
in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon that roiled the
region through the subsequent decades and continue to contribute to
instability in the region. Some 70% of the Palestinians cooped up by
the Israelis in the open-door concentration camp called Gaza are
descendants of refugee families from what is now Israel, some living
only an hour’s walk from the homes that were stolen from them. Some 40%
of Palestinians in Gaza are still living in refugee camps, despite
Israeli direct rule 1967-2005.
Propagandists who excuse the ethnic cleansing campaign and the
continued explicit denial to Palestinians of the right of citizenship
in a state often maintain that it should have been possible for “the
Arabs” to “absorb” the Palestinians. But in international law, the
state that committed the ethnic cleansing is responsible for it and for
reparations, not the hapless neighbors on whom the refugees were
The Palestinians expelled by Israelis to Syria are a case in point.
They have grown through natural increase to some 400,000 (Syria’s
population is 23 million). Many of these Palestinians still live in
refugee camps. Among the more prominent is Yarmouk, a camp that had
until recently come to have 160,000 residents and now has only about
18,000. Palestinians are not Syrians and do not have Syrian
citizenship, but they were given substantial rights as residents in
None of that means anything now that the Syrian state is in collapse.
Some 90 percent of the population of Yarmouk has fled, caught in the
cross-fire of the civil war. with tens of thousands of refugees made
refugees all over again.
Does it mean anything for the displaced Palestinian victims of the Israelis that they are “Arabs” among Daesh murderers? Palestinians continue to suffer, not only under Israeli military
occupation, but wherever they are stateless refugees, open to the cruel
turns of fate that beset the powerless."
Amnesty International Report
Unlawful and deadly:
Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian armed groups
during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict
(Amnesty International, Vice News and Dore Stein)
Palestinian armed groups in Gaza committed war crimes during last summer's Operation Protective Edge,
which left more than 72 Israelis dead. The alleged crimes include
rocket fire that resulted in the deaths of six Israeli civilians,
including one child according to a March 26 report by Amnesty International (AI). (click above link for access to 68 pg. PDF file)
Protective Edge was an Israeli 51-day invasion into the Gaza Strip that
began on July 7, 2014. Israelis say it was an effort to stop rocket
fire; Palestinians say the rocket fire was a result of continued
ceasefire violations committed by the Israelis.
During the 'war on Gaza' (Dore Stein's phrase), Palestinian armed
groups responded by firing thousands of unguided rockets and mortars
towards Israel, in many cases directing them towards Israeli civilians
and civilian objects, in violation of international law according to
the Amnesty International report. These attacks killed six civilians in
Israel, wounded others, and damaged civilian property. The conduct of
Palestinian armed groups also endangered civilians in the Gaza Strip.
In one case, the available evidence according to Amnesty International,
indicates that a rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group on 28 July
2014 killed 11 children and two adults in the al-Shati refugee camp,
north-west of Gaza City. If the projectile which landed in the al-Shati
refugee camp is confirmed to be a Palestinian rocket, it would mean
that attacks launched by Palestinian armed groups during the 2014
conflict killed more civilians inside the Gaza Strip than in Israel.
The Amnesty International report does not address the summary killings
of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by Hamas forces for alleged
“collaboration” with Israel during the July/August 2014 conflict, which
will be the subject of a forthcoming report.
Israeli forces also committed serious violations of international law
during the hostilities, but these are not the focus of this report.
Some of the Israeli violations, including attacks that constituted war
crimes, have been analysed in previous Amnesty International reports,
and additional reports will be published in the coming months.
Dore note: It's worth distinguishing that unlike the Palestinians who
fight with mostly crude unguided rockets, the Israeli Defense Forces
possess advanced weaponry such as precision guided bombs and missiles
yet still killed at least 1585 Gazan civilians including over 500
children and 300 women, and more than 11,000 Gazans werw injured
according to the Amnesty International report. It seems to me the IDF
either intentionally targeted the civilians or had really bad aim which
is hard to believe.
critical of Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza, the Amnesty
International report clears Hamas of using the civilian population of
Gaza as human shields, an accusation commonly employed by Israeli
"There is no evidence of any use of Gazans as human shields by Hamas or
any other armed group," according to Deborah Hyams, an Amnesty
International researcher who contributed to the report.
Dore Note: Apparently Amnesty International did not deal with the
question of whether the Israeli Defense Forces used Palestinians as
human shields which has been reported and documented.
criticism of the Hamas government is that they do not build bomb
shelters for the residents of Gaza, a fact that many feel contributes
greatly to the lack of safe areas. VICE News asked Amnesty
International 's Hyams whether the lack of bomb shelters could be
attributed to Hamas policies, or the Israeli siege of Gaza.
"It's potentially both," the researcher began. "The siege has made all
construction difficult, not just in the area of bomb shelters." Hyams
went on to address the common criticism that Hamas builds tunnels
instead of shelters: "There's a point to be made there, but we aren't
necessarily criticizing the tunnels. If they aren't used to attack
civilian targets, they are a legitimate tactic. But if you can build
tunnels, why not build shelters?"
Israel's Operation Protection Edge brought an unprecedented level of
death, destruction, damage, and injury to the occupied Gaza Strip. More
than seven years of Israeli blockade, imposed in June 2007 after Hamas
took over Palestinian governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip, had
already inflicted a severe cumulative toll on infrastructure, health
systems, and all aspects of life in the territory. The 1.8 million
Palestinians squeezed into the Strip could not leave, as the borders
were sealed and no place inside the Strip was truly safe. There are no
bomb shelters or warning systems to help protect civilians in the Gaza
Strip. At the height of the hostilities according to the report an
estimated 485,000 people had fled to UN schools, government schools,
and other public buildings, or were staying with relatives, but several
UN schools sheltering displaced civilians came under attack.
Dore note: Assessing blame for attacks on U.N. schools was not part of this report. However, Human Rights Watch investigated three attacks on Gaza schools which occurred on July 24 and 30, and August 3, 2014, that killed 45 people, including 17 children.
the Israeli side, bomb shelters, advanced warning systems, and Israel’s
Iron Dome missile defence system helped limit civilian casualties in
many areas. However, the conflict provided renewed evidence that
vulnerable communities in Israel, particularly Bedouin villages in
Israel’s southern Negev/Naqab region, many of which are not officially
recognized by the Israeli government, lacked protection. On both
sides, civilians once again bore the brunt of the third full-scale war
in less than six years.
Dore note: I'm not sure how Amnesty International draws the conclusion
that on both sides civilians bore the brunt of casualties.
According to the report, 66/72 Israeli deaths were members of the
Israeli Defense Forces. The report sources the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), confirms over 2,250
people were killed in the Gaza Strip, at least 1,585 of whom were
civilians, including 538 children and 306 women. More than 11,000
Palestinians were injured, up to 10% of them permanently. It is obvious
the Gazans bore the brunt of the third full-scale war in less than six
years, as they always do.
the Israeli nor the Palestinian authorities have conducted credible,
independent investigations meeting international standards following
previous conflicts, and those responsible for violations have
consistently escaped accountability. Since the 2014 conflict, Israel’s
investigations into the actions of its forces have once again been
conducted by the Israeli military itself, and there is no indication
that the Palestinian authorities are investigating violations by
Palestinian armed groups.
"To date, the situation with domestic investigations on both sides is
not looking good. Israeli investigations are conducted by the Israeli
military, and there's a huge conflict of interest there,"
Amnesty International researcher Hyams declared, criticizing Israel's
method of inquiry. "On the Palestinian side, we just don't know of any
investigations into alleged crimes," she concluded.
An independent commission of inquiry established to investigate all
violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed
in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) “in the context of the
military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before,
during or after” is due to report to the UN Human Rights Council in
June 2015. Amnesty International has consistently urged both the
Israeli and Palestinian authorities to co-operate with the UN
Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict. Israel’s
Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in November 2014 that Israel
would not co-operate with the Commission, and the Israeli authorities
have refused to grant its investigators access to Israel or the OPT.
pattern of impunity for serious violations and crimes, as well as
evidence that both sides were committing further crimes during
Operation Protective Edge, led Amnesty International to call for an
International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into crimes under
international law committed in Israel and the OPT. Palestine’s
accession to the ICC, which will take effect on 1 April 2015, and its
submission of a declaration accepting the Court’s jurisdiction from 13
June 2014, are important steps towards justice for victims on both
Dore note: The Amnesty International report fails to point out that
Israel and the United States are not signatories to the Rome Statute of
the International Criminal Court and as such have no legal obligations
resulting from ICC rulings.
Amnesty International acknowledges In the Methodology portion of the
report that it has been unable to send a delegation of researchers,
including military experts, to visit the Gaza Strip since the beginning
of Operation Protection Edge in July 2014. The Israeli
authorities have refused, up to the time of finalizing this report,
more than six months after the hostilities ended, to allow Amnesty
International and researchers from other international human rights
organizations to enter the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing with
Israel, despite the organization’s repeated requests since before the
beginning of the conflict. The Egyptian authorities have also not
granted Amnesty International permission to enter the Gaza Strip
through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, again despite the organization’s
Amnesty International has consequently had to carry out research in the
Gaza Strip remotely, supported by two fieldworkers based in Gaza.
Among several report recommendations, one conclusion states "Israeli
authorities should completely lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip,
including permitting the unrestricted transfer of construction
materials into the Gaza Strip and the transfer of goods from Gaza to
Israel and the West Bank, subject only to necessary and proportionate
security checks, as an essential step towards addressing the shelter
and protection needs
To mark Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which commences on the first day of spring, President Obama released a video greeting
to the Iranian people. “For decades, our nations have been separated by
mistrust and fear,” he said. “Now it is early spring. We have a
chance—a chance—to make progress that will benefit our countries, and
the world, for many years to come.” The message was pegged to the tough
diplomatic endgame over a deal to prevent Iran from making a nuclear
bomb. The deadline for the negotiations is March 30th.
By now, Secretary of State John Kerry has almost certainly spent more
time with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, than with any
other foreign minister in the world. Unofficial relations between the
two countries seem closer today than they have been at any time since
the 1979 takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran.
The tenor of the negotiators’ personal relationships was evident after
news reports announced the death of Sakineh Peivandi. She is the mother
of the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, and of his brother Hossein
Fereydoun, who is one of the negotiators. Kerry and Secretary of
Energy Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist who recently joined the
American negotiating team, paid a condolence call on Fereydoun in
Lausanne. In a press statement, Kerry said, “We share in their grief .
. . and we keep their family in our thoughts.”
An Iranian news agency released several pictures of the visit. In one,
Kerry and the President’s brother are walking toward each other with
open arms, about to embrace.
These images and others, which would have been considered treasonous in Tehran not long ago, were widely shared on social media.
Serious obstacles remain, Obama noted in his video greeting. They are
said to primarily concern Iran’s nuclear research and development
programs and the terms for lifting the punitive international sanctions
imposed on Iran over the past decade.
More troubling, the United States and France are split: France insists
that Iran disclose all past military research and development
activities that could be used to build a warhead to deliver a
weapon and that sanctions be lifted in slower phases.
A potential deal faces even bigger challenges down the road. In his
video message, Obama said, “There are people, in both our countries and
beyond, who oppose a diplomatic resolution. My message to you—the
people of Iran—is that, together, we have to speak up for the future we
Senators Bob Corker, a Republican, and Robert Menendez and Tim Kaine,
both Democrats, introduced a bill this month that would require Obama
to submit the text to Congress for review. More than three hundred
House members sent a letter to the White House this week demanding that
any permanent sanctions relief require new legislation.
Senator Lindsey Graham warned Thursday that he would move to suspend
U.S. funding of the United Nations if it moved to lift sanctions on
Iran before receiving congressional approval. And two Republican House
members, Peter Roskam and Lee Zeldin, asked colleagues to co-sign a
letter to Obama threatening to cut off funding for the negotiations.
Near the end of his video message, Obama quoted the fourteenth-century
Persian poet Hafez on the joys of a new season, and said, “This moment
may not come again soon. I believe that our nations have an historic
opportunity to resolve this issue peacefully—an opportunity we should
not miss.” Getting an agreement from the Iranians may prove easier than
winning approval in Washington.
The New Yorker article does not mention that 47 Republican Senators who at minimum violated the spirit of the Logan Act
by sending an open letter to Iran's leaders warning them that they’ll
reverse any nuclear deal Iran signs with President Obama's
administration after he leaves office.
The aim was to sabotage the negotiations.
This letter may be a violation of federal law, breach of national security, and sets an incredibly dangerous precedent.
The Logan Act is a law that's been on the books since 1799. Although
laws are more than their written words and must be viewed with context
and precedent in mind, here is what it states:
"Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who,
without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly
commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any
foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to
influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any
officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies
with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three
years, or both."
If you believe the Logan Act has been violated, here is a petition
can sign. It demands these Senators be charged with violating the Logan
Act for attempting to sabotage negotiations with Iran.
B'Tselem is the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
March 8, 2015International Women’s Day
States of combat and human rights
violations have a distinctive impact on women. It is important that we
hear their voices. In honor of International Women’s Day we asked
Palestinian women to interview other Palestinian women about their
hopes, dreams and sources of inspiration.
March 4, 2015Civil Administration demolishes ‘Ein Karzaliyah
for the second time this winter
Israeli authorities demolished all
structures in Khirbet ‘Ein Karzaliyah in the northern Jordan Valley,
for the second time this year. Bulldozers raked the dirt road leading
to the community, preventing access by car. This cruel harassment of a
particularly vulnerable population is part of Israel’s policy aimed at
displacing thousands of Palestinians from communities throughout Area
C. B'Tselem urges Israel to allow residents of Khirbet ‘Ein Karzaliyah
to remain where they have lived and grazed their flocks for 25 years
March 2, 2015
Soldier’s video of military dog attack on a Palestinian boy published
today. The media reports that the military stated it would investigate
the incident and take measures to prevent its recurrence. However, the
attack was part of an official military operation which was likely
approved by the senior command. MAG Corps has yet to respond to
B’Tselem’s demand for an end to the policy of dog attacks on
Feb 26, 2015What would it take for the authorities to stop olive tree vandals rampaging in the Southern Hebron hills?
In the past two months vandals destroyed
Palestinian olive groves in four locations in the Southern Hebron
hills, near the settlements Susiya and Mitzpe Yair. All incidents
occurred only several hundred meters apart, under the nose of the
Police and army, who appear to have not lifted a finger to stop this
Feb 23, 2015
Civil Administration dismantles, confiscates
water pipes in Khirbet Yarza, Jordan Valley
On 29 Jan. 2015, the Civil
Administration dismantled water pipes recently installed for the small
shepherding community of Khirbet Yarza in the Jordan Valley and
confiscated the parts. Before the installation, the community relied on
rainwater and private water purchase. This is one measure of several
taken by Israeli authorities to displace thousands of Palestinians
living in Area C. As the occupying power in the West Bank, Israel must
allow residents to maintain their lifestyle, permit them to build
legally, and provide them water and electricity.
Feb 15, 2015
Khirbet 'Ein Karzaliyah:
Israeli authorities continue persecution of a tiny community in Jordan Valley
Khirbet 'Ein Karzaliyah is a tiny
community of 24, including 14 minors, who live off farming and
shepherding in the Jordan Valley. Israeli authorities have repeatedly
attempted to expel the community from their place of residence and have
repeatedly demolished their homes, as part of a decades-long policy to
expel thousands of Palestinians living in dozens of shepherding
communities scattered throughout Area C. On 22 January 2015, bulldozers
again demolished all the community’s structures, for the fourth time
since January 2014. ‘Aref Daraghmeh, B’Tselem’s field researcher in the
Jordan Valley, documented the trail of destruction the bulldozers left
behind on 22 Jan.
Feb 9, 2015Israel’s High Court of Justice to state: <