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Ethiopian-Israelis' protest against police violence is met with police violence

Police use stun grenades, violence against protest in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, sparked by video of two officers beating a black Israeli soldier. Dozens reported injured, at least 26 arrested.

Photos by Oren Ziv, Yotam Ronen, Keren Manor / Activestills
Text by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man

A protest by Israelis of Ethiopian descent against discriminatory police brutality was met with police violence for the second time in a matter of days, this time in central Tel Aviv on Sunday.

Police used stun grenades, water canons, riot officers and mounted officers to disperse several thousand protesters who arriving in Rabin Square some five hours after the demonstration began elsewhere in the city.

There were dozens of injuries reported by protesters and police. A police spokesperson later said that 26 people were arrested. Activists indicated that more protesters were in police custody.

The protest followed a similar demonstration in Jerusalem Thursday night, which was a response to video of Israeli police beating an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian descent.

Protesters flipped over a police car in Rabin square and were throwing plastic bottles at officers.

A number of members of Knesset joined the protest when it started. The protesters soon descended onto Tel Aviv’s main freeway, blocking traffic in both directions for hours.

Eventually police used force to clear the freeway and the protesters continued marching toward the city’s most famous square, Rabin Square.

“I was in the Border Police and I’ve never seen stun grenades used at a protest [in Israel],” protester tells Channel 10. “We’re Israelis, we’re Jews.”

Even in the most tense and violent days of Tel Aviv’s social protests in 2011 and 2012, in nights when bank windows were broken and 90 people arrested, police did not use crowd control means generally reserved for the West Bank and Arab protesters.

In late 2014, intense protests against discriminatory police violence took place in the northern Israeli town of Kafr Kana after Israeli police killed an Arab man while he was fleeing. Earlier this year, massive protests took place after police killed two unarmed Arab men in the southern city of Rahat.

Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh was one of the only public figures to make the connection between the various struggles against police violence directed at specific racial or ethnic groups in Israel.

“As a member of the Arab population,...

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PHOTOS: Hundreds protest deportation of asylum seekers in Tel Aviv

The Israeli government announced plans to offer asylum seekers a stark choice: self-deport to a third country or face indefinite imprisonment. Residents of south Tel Aviv, where many asylum seekers live, stage a counter-protest.

By Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Some 300 Israeli activists staged a protest against the Israeli government’s stated future policy of deporting asylum seekers back to Africa Saturday night in central Tel Aviv’s Habima Square. Around 100 residents of Tel Aviv’s southern neighborhoods, where many asylum seekers live, staged a counter-protest.

Click for +972′s full coverage of asylum seekers in Israel

Refugee activists shouted, “no to deportation,” and called for “solutions for the neighborhoods, not deportation and Holot.” The counter-protesters held signs blaming the New Israel Fund for the situation in South Tel Aviv, and demanding the deportation of the asylum seeker population in Israel.

A large number of police officers stood between the two protests.

“Our message is simple: it is not acceptable for asylum seekers, who are [guaranteed] protection under international law, to be deported from Israel,” said Sigal Avivi, one of the activists who organized the protest. “They are not examining their asylum requests.”

Well aware of the criticism against left-wing activists, who sometimes do not address the problems in south Tel Aviv, she added: “We agree that not all the asylum seekers should live in such a small place, an area that was discriminated against for so many years.”

But the south Tel Aviv residents didn’t appear convinced.

Seffi Paz, a resident of the southern neighborhood of Shapira, and one of the counter-protest organizers, said: “We call them infiltrators but they (the left-wing activists) call them refugees. We speak about crime in the neighborhoods and they say it is for survival. We say immigration police, we say detention center, they call it a concentration camp.”

Not many asylum seekers attended the protest, which was held with out a police permit. Nadim Omar, an asylum seeker from Sudan, was one of the few who did chose to come.

Read also:
Uganda denies agreement with Israel on asylum seekers
ISIS executes three asylum seekers deported by Israel
Likud minister: Drowning of migrants justifies Israeli policy

“I don’t think the is such a thing as ‘voluntarily leaving’,” Omar said at the rally. “The Israeli government sent asylum seekers from the cities to the Holot detention center,...


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Ethiopian-Israeli protest against police brutality is met with violence

This isn’t Baltimore. This is Jerusalem, on Thursday night. 

Photos by Oren Ziv and Tali Mayer/Activestills.org

Thousands of young Ethiopian Israelis demonstrated against police brutality in Jerusalem on Thursday, in a vigil that spiraled into violent clashes with police.

The protesters congregated in the afternoon under the banner: “Down with racism! A black person will not be brought down.” The protesters blocked major roads in the capital — including Highway 1, the road that links Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

When the protest approached the Prime Minister’s Residence a few hours later, police gloves were off. Officers fired tear gas and stun grenades at the crowd, with some present reporting via social media that riot control forces had brought out the dreaded “skunk” spray, generally only used in Palestinian protests in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Some 15 protesters were reportedly injured.

Thursday’s protest came against the backdrop of a video in which a policeman was seen brutally beating an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian heritage in Holon. Ethiopian Israelis have been victims of repeated police violence in recent years.

The protesters demanded that the police officer stand trial, and called for Netanyahu’s immediate intervention. They also called for Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino’s resignation.

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Learning to photograph while running in Gaza

Opening at Jaffa Theatre on Thursday as part of Tel Aviv’s Solidarity Festival, an exhibition will feature the work of Activestills, including Gaza photographer Basel Yazouri. Having joined Activestills a few months before last summer’s offensive, his work has been published in various international platforms, including +972 Magazine.

But unlike his Israeli colleagues, the 19-year-old Gaza City resident is prevented from attending his own exhibition. We interview him about living and working in Gaza, and documenting one’s own community in wartime.

Tell us about covering the last war in Gaza.

It was my first intense photographic experience. I used to cover day-to-day life before the attack and then, when it came, I had to be in the field – not only to support other photographers, but also as a professional. I had to deliver the message and tell the story like it was. For me, it was also to help people, not just to get the word out.

On the photography side, it was extremely hard in the beginning. It was my first time photographing in this kind of situation. I had to learn on the fly.

Sometimes you have to decide whether to take the photo or run for your life. The first day of the attack I went to Shujaiyeh [one of the worst-hit areas during the war], there was a bombing near the cemetery while people were to burying martyrs. Fifty meters from us missiles were falling. I just ran, without taking any photos. Later on, I got used to it and learned to take photos while running.

Which photos or events are the most memorable to you?

The one of a woman sitting by her injured child at Al-Shifa hospital. She had just survived a bombing in which the Israelis shelled an entire street. The Israeli missiles contain nails that spread everywhere. That caused a lot of injuries. It was very messy.

I also remember going to Khuza’a. The attack started at 9 p.m., and we got there at 7 a.m. We saw the tanks and the soldiers, who were about 300 meters away. We couldn’t get near them. It was very hard to photograph. Then there was of course Shujaiyeh, where people were fleeing their homes. That was horrible.

How are local photographers different from intentional ones?

I see my work as very different from Anne’s [Actviestills' Anne Paq]. She is a journalist, who cares about Gaza very much, more then any journalist I...

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PHOTOS: Thousands protest policy of home demolitions in Tel Aviv

Some 50,000 Palestinian homes in Israel are under threat of demolition. The Israeli government is not addressing the serious housing crisis among the Arab population, activists and politicians say.

Photos by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Several thousand Palestinian citizens of Israel held a demonstration in the center of Tel Aviv Tuesday evening, demanding an end to home demolitions that overwhelmingly target Arab citizens.

The demonstration coincided with a one-day general strike among the Palestinian population in Israel, called for by the Higher Monitoring Committee, a group that historically mobilizes the community politically.

Related: Israel demolishes homes in unrecognized Palestinian village

Higher Monitoring Committee representative Jarayis Matar accused the government of failing to find solutions to the acute housing crisis in Arab locales, instead escalating home demolitions.

“Take for example that in 2014 the Israel Land Administration issued tenders for 38,261 housing units in Jewish municipalities compared to only 1,844 units in Arab cities,” noted Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh.

Only 41 out of 139 Arab municipalities have updated master plans, Odeh added, “700 Jewish towns have been built since 1948 and in the Center and the North not one Arab city.”

“There are 50,000 Arab homes under the threat of demolition as a result of this policy that forces people to build without permits,” Odeh said.

Read also:
Why the Arabs are coming to Tel Aviv
Justice unlikely in deadly Kafr Kanna police shooting



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WATCH: Israeli officer attacks, throws stones at photojournalists

Video shows Israeli photojournalist and AFP photographer being attacked by Israeli soldiers at the weekly protest against the occupation in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. One Palestinian protester is reportedly shot with live fire.

Text by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man
Video by Miki Kratsman/Activestills.org

Israeli soldiers threw stones at and attacked Israeli and Palestinian photojournalists during a protest in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Friday, during which the army used live fire against protesters. One Palestinian was reportedly shot in the head.

Palestinians in Nabi Saleh hold weekly protests every Friday against the occupation and to demand access to the village’s spring, which was taken over by Israeli settlers.

In a video of the event, a soldier can be seen throwing a stone at Israeli photojournalist Haim Schwarczenberg and a Palestinian photographer who works for AFP as they attempt to comply with soldiers’ orders to leave the area. In 2011, Schwarczenberg photographed the close-range shooting of Mustafa Tamimi with a tear gas projectile fired from a military jeep in Nabi Saleh. Tamimi later died of his injuries.

As he walks away, an officer runs after him and pushes Schwarczenberg to the ground. When he gets up and moves further away from them, the officer throws another stone at Schwarczenberg and the AFP photographer.

Schwarczenberg told +972’s and its Hebrew site, Local Call, that he was standing on a hill photographing Palestinian stone throwers when his colleague, Abbas, told him to get close to the ground because soldiers were shooting live bullets at the stone throwers.

“One of the soldiers suddenly appeared from behind us and shouted, ‘get out of here before I shoot you’,” Schwarczenberg said. “Abbas and I got up to go but then the soldier shouted, ‘lay down!’, and pointed his weapon in our direction [at the stone thrower behind us].” The stone thrower escaped.

“At that point [the soldier] began pushing me and Abbas, another soldier joined him and threw a stone at us that didn’t hit me,” he continued. “Right after that he threw me and my cameras to the ground.”

A few minutes later the soldiers shot a Palestinian man in the head, Schwarczenberg said.

Update:
+972 contacted the IDF Spokesperson to get a response to the video and offered to send the army a copy of the video for review. The Spokesperson...

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PHOTOS: Palestinian journalist held in administrative detention

Israel is currently imprisoning and detaining 20 Palestinian journalists, group says.

Photos and text by Ahmad Al-Bazz/ Activestills.org

Palestinian journalists and activists protested against the administrative detention of Palestinian journalist Amin Abu Wardeh earlier this week. The demonstrators stood outside the Red Cross offices in the West Bank city of Nablus and demanded that the organization intervene and help release him.

Israel is currently imprisoning and detaining 20 Palestinian journalists, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. Abu Wardeh was also arrested in 2011 and held under administrative detention for 10 months. He runs the Asda’ news website.

Israeli forces arrested Abu Wardeh in the early morning hours of April 15 during a large arrest campaign that saw 27 Palestinian civilians arrested in Nablus and its suburbs. Those targeted in the arrest campaign included former prisoners, a journalist, engineers, university lecturers and the wife of a former prisoner. The majority are members of Hamas.

Palestinians described the arrest campaign as a political step, while Israel claimed the detainees had recently been involved in “Hamas activity.”

Under Israel’s “emergency regulations,” the state can hold Palestinians without charge or trial under administrative detention for six-month periods, which can be renewed indefinitely. Most administrative detainees do not know of what they are accused, and have no way of defending themselves.

Under international law, administrative detention should only be used in the most extreme cases.

According to Palestinian sources, the soldiers also seized tens of thousands of shekels in cash, a vehicle, laptops, cellphones.

Related:
IDF: Nothing illegal in Gaza strike that killed three journalists
Who will protect Palestinian journalists?
Editorial: Demanding freedom of movement and access for Palestinian journalists




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PHOTOS: Hundreds gather to protest dire conditions of south Tel Aviv

Hundreds demonstrated in central Tel Aviv against the dire living conditions for the residents, refugees and foreign workers who live in south Tel Aviv.

Photos and text: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Approximately 300 Israelis, asylum seekers and foreign workers protested Sunday evening at Habima Square in central Tel Aviv against the living conditions in south Tel Aviv, which have led to the death of five refugee children in makeshift daycare centers over the past few months.

“We will not be silent as children die. Children deserve a life of dignity,” Shula Keshet, an activist from south Tel Aviv and one of the organizers of the rally, told the crowd. “The conditions in the ghetto of south Tel Aviv are killing all of us, especially children. We saw the horrible conditions of Jews in the ghettos of Europe. I see life here on Rothschild Boulevard, and I say we must bring down the walls between Rothschild and south Tel Aviv, while people are dying there.”

The daycare center – also known as “babysitters” in the community – are often run in private homes, in unsanitary conditions, with few, untrained staff members, poor food and no proper equipment.

Related:
South Tel Aviv stories: ‘I left Sudan due to war and I’m still in a war’
Israel’s ‘backyards’: First south Tel Aviv, then Holot

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PHOTOS: Palestinians mark Prisoners Day, IDF responds with live fire

Thousands of Palestinians mark Prisoners Day across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. President Abbas calls for releasing Palestinian prisoners, while Hamas calls for kidnapping Israelis.

By Oren Ziv / Activestills and Haggai Matar

Hundreds of Palestinians, Israelis and international activists marched in the West Bank village of Bil’in on Friday to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Additional demonstrations took place in Ni’ilin, Nabi Saleh, Kafr Qadum, Ma’asara, as well as in front of the United Nations offices in Gaza. On Thursday, Palestinians also protested outside Ofer Military Prison to show solidarity with Palestinians being held in Israeli jails.

The demonstration in Bil’in began after Friday prayers. The army shot dozens of tear gas canisters well before the protesters could reach the Separation Wall. Most of them retreated, while a few remained and threw stones at the soldiers. At some point, soldiers used live fire (tutu bullets), wounding a young Palestinian in the chest. He was evacuated to a hospital in Ramallah.

Soldiers also used live fire on demonstrators in Ni’ilin, wounding three Palestinians in their legs.

In Bil’in, protesters marched with photos of Bassem Abu Rahmah, who was killed by a tear gas canister shot by Israeli soldiers six years ago this week. Despite video evidence and ballistic analysis, which showed that the canister was shot directly at Abu Rahmah — in contravention of the army’s open-fire regulations — the Military Advocate General decided to close the case for “lack of evidence.”

According to Addameer, a Palestinian NGO that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons, there are currently 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Among them, 434 are being held in administrative detention, which means they have not been sentenced nor stood trial. Of those imprisoned, 23 are women and 163 are minors. Seventeen members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah) are also being held by Israel, as well as 20 journalists.

More than 800,000 Palestinians have sat in Israeli prisons 1967. Almost every single Palestinian family has been affected in one way or another, making the issue of Palestinian prisoners central to the Palestinians struggle. This past week, the High court rejected a petition by several prisoners who asked to allow them to be allowed to study in the Open University, similar to the other prisoners. The High Court justices ruled that...

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PHOTOS: Answering tear gas with flowers

Photos and text by Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Every Friday residents of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, along with Palestinian, Israeli and international activists, attempt to march to the village’s spring. The small spring was taken over by Israeli settlers from the nearby settlement of Halamish years ago, and the Israeli army now prevents Palestinians from reaching it.

Before the protest this past Friday, children from Nabi Saleh placed flowers they picked from the surrounding hills into spent tear gas canisters fired at protesters in weeks past. The children of Nabi Saleh take part in the protests against the occupation on a weekly basis.

Special Coverage: Children Under Occupation

The installation was set up near the village’s main junction, near the home of Neriman and Bilal Tamimi, central activists in the village’s struggle. A week earlier, the Israeli army shot Manal Tamimi in the leg with a live bullet.

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How the Israeli army obfuscates its use of live fire against Palestinians

Recent statements by unnamed military sources attempt to confuse the issue of lower-powered but completely lethal ammunition used against Palestinians.

Text and photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

Let’s be clear: the Israeli military uses many kinds of weapons to kill and maim Palestinians in the West Bank. Many of them are “less-lethal” weapons intended to disperse crowds at demonstrations. Sometimes the people shot are among those throwing stones or Molotov cocktails. Sometimes they’re not. Every once in a while they’re journalists or human rights observers. Often these weapons are employed in routine violation of the regulations that are supposed to govern their use. B’Tselem wrote a report about the habitual illegal use of such weapons. Amnesty International titled a similar report, “Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank.”

One aspect of this troubling trend is the increasing use of live ammunition as a crowd control weapon. A new layer of this lethal trend is an accompanying attempt by military sources to obfuscate their nature and justify their use. Ido Kenan recently wrote about how unattributed military sources are frequently steno graphed by Israeli media. Two recent likely examples — striking because the phrasing is so similar in two different newspapers — appear in reports on the death of Palestinian youth Ziad Awad, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in clashes following his cousin’s funeral last week:

Haaretz:

The force reported it opened fire with tear gas and stun grenades, and later fired at four Palestinians using a certain type of bullet, a 22 caliber known as “Ruger” fired from a special weapon designed for just that purpose, which have less powerful effects compared to regular live ammunition.

Jerusalem Post:

Soldiers responded by firing 0.22 caliber bullets from a Ruger rifle, which fires weaker shots compared to live fire, according to the sources. Non-lethal crowd control measures were also deployed during the incident.

Both papers cite anonymous — and therefore unaccountable — military sources who describe these smaller bullets as somehow not the same thing as “live fire.” The Jerusalem Post even includes this unattributed direct quote:

“The incident is still being checked. We did not use live fire,” one army source added.

First, there is the striking...

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PHOTOS: Palestinians protest settler marathon in West Bank

Israeli ‘Biblical Marathon’ shuts down main West Bank road connecting Ramallah and Nablus, ‘is part of an apartheid policy,’ says Abdullah Abu Rahmeh.

Several dozen Palestinians demonstrated against the closure of the West Bank’s main traffic artery due to an Israeli “biblical” marathon on Thursday. Road 60, which connects the major Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Nablus, was closed to traffic from 5:30 a.m. until shortly before noon.

Marathons are generally held on Sundays, and on Fridays in Israel, in order to minimize the interruption to commutes and commerce on the roads. While Thursday is a half-day for most Israelis because it is the eve of a holiday, it is a regular work day for Palestinians.

Related:
Applying runners’ wisdom to the fight for human rights
Palestinian village demands end to restrictions on movement

Israeli soldiers prevented the Palestinian activists from approaching the marathon itself and they protested near the village of Turmus Aya. The “Biblical Marathon’s” organizers, which includes a number of government bodies, billed it as an historic recreation of the first-ever marathon in the world.

“Everything the army and the settlers do in the occupied territories is part of an apartheid policy, and we cannot accept the fact that they are shutting down a major road,” said Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, one of the protest organizers, adding that the demonstration was held under the banner of freedom of movement.

Two weeks ago the third-annual Palestine Marathon took place in Bethlehem. Runners in the Palestine Marathon were forced to essentially run laps on a track made of city streets because organizers were unable to find an uninterrupted 42-kilometer (26 mile) mile stretch of road under Palestinian control.



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PHOTOS: Soldiers fire live ammo, wound two in Nabi Saleh protest

Photos and report: Anne Paq / Activestills.org

Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition against nonviolent Palestinian protesters in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Friday. Two Palestinians were wounded, including activist Manal Tamimi.

Tamimi was shot in her leg as she was standing and talking to her friends, only minutes after the protest had begun, along with another young Palestinian. Both were transferred to a Ramallah hospital where they received treatment for their wounds.

 

 

Activists report that the army has stepped up its use of live ammunition in the village over the past few months. Nariman Tamimi, a prominent activist in the village’s Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, was shot with live ammunition on November 22, 2014. She is still recovering.

Nonviolent protests in Nabi Saleh began in 2009 after residents from the nearby settlement Halamish took took control over the Ein al-Qaws spring — owned by a resident of the village — preventing Palestinian access to their land.

 

 

 

Related:
On Passover, IDF collectively punishes West Bank village of Nabi Saleh
Film on Nabi Saleh’s kids competes for int’l awards



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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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