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IDF spokesperson expresses regret over killing of single Palestinian child

You really have to give credit where credit is due. Even if it is to the IDF. Soldiers killed 12-year-old Muhammad al-Anati during clashes with local youth in the Hebron area on Sunday. According to reports, al-Anati was killed after being struck by a bullet in the back, and was not involved in the clashes.

An Israeli soldier throws a stun grenade at Palestinian protesters in Beit Furik. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

An Israeli soldier throws a stun grenade at Palestinian protesters in Beit Furik. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

However, it seems that the IDF is willing to learn from past mistakes. This time, unlike recent similar events, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit immediately released a message [Hebrew] saying an inquiry had been launched and that the army expressed its regret over al-Anati’s death. One can hope that the inquiry will be a serious and effective one.

For the sake of comparison, it is worth remembering that over the course of the 14 years that preceded Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli army killed 1,384 minors in the West Bank and Gaza. Among them was 13-year-old candy seller Mohammad Jihd Dudin, who was shot to death by soldiers during riots he did not participate in. In May, two youths were shot dead while not posing any threat to soldiers during clashes in Betunia, one of them in the back. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit changed its official statement several times, and to this day has not shown remorse or found anyone responsible for the killing.

Palestnians carry Mohammad Qasem Hamamreh, after he was injured in the head with a tear gas canister at the early morning of July 23, during clashes with the Israeli army in the West Bank village of Husan, 2014. Mohammad, 19 years old, died in the hospital the day after (Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Palestnians carry Mohammad Qasem Hamamreh, after he was injured in the head with a tear gas canister at the early morning of July 23, during clashes with the Israeli army in the West Bank village of Husan, 2014. Mohammad, 19 years old, died in the hospital the day after (Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, some 400 additional children have been killed in Gaza. Now...

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Mourning death wherever it strikes

(Translated from Hebrew by Sol Salbe)

Sometimes it feels like this is some sort of a test. Will the leftists mourn now? Will they say that they feel the pain? Will they dare criticize the war now that our soldiers have died?

So there, yes, it hurts. I know that that doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone, but it hurts me. From the moment I heard of the horror yesterday morning, it was as if a stone was laid on my heart. I prayed that it wouldn’t be one of the friends whom I know are there. I was partially relieved when it turned out that it was none of them, before turning horrible once more when I found out that one of those killed was a friend of a close friend. It pains me, but what can I do, I grieve not only for them. The death of dozens of Palestinians last night also pains me. Yes. It is okay to suffer the pain like this; to mourn death wherever it strikes. It does not diminish the pain.

A protest condemning the Israeli assault on the Gaza strip, held outside the Israeli consulate in downtown Chicago, IL on July 16, 2014.

A protest condemning the Israeli assault on the Gaza strip, held outside the Israeli consulate in downtown Chicago, IL on July 16, 2014.

And I don’t want to be tested. I don’t want to have to defend myself. I want the warmongers to defend themselves. Let them explain themselves. Let them say why, in their view, it was the right thing to do. Why the deaths of all those who perished in the past 24 hours and the past month were more necessary or more justified than those of Pillar of Defense or Cast Lead or Summer Rains or Hot Winter. Or maybe this time or in the next operation, which will surely come in another year or three if we do not stop the policy of blockade and war and begin to relate to people in Gaza as human beings with whom we sit down to negotiate a real peace. Let Netanyahu prove that he cares about soldiers and civilians. Let Yair Lapid be tested. Let Tzipi Livni make sure that it won’t happen again.

And then I recalled my visit...

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The night it became dangerous to demonstrate in Tel Aviv

The fascists attacked. Police didn’t respond in time and ran away when the sirens wailed. We were lucky to get away with only three injured, one in the hospital and many traumatized.

(Translated from Hebrew by Michael Sappir)

Police stopping right-wing nationalists from attacking left wing activists during a protest in central Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. The protest ended with the nationalists attacking a small group of left-wing activists with little police interference. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Police stopping right-wing nationalists from attacking left wing activists during a protest in central Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. The protest ended with the nationalists attacking a small group of left-wing activists with little police interference. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

When the sirens wailed in Tel Aviv last night one thing was clear to us: the fascists in front of us were more dangerous than the rapidly approaching rockets. One by one, the police ran to bomb shelters and left us face to face. Only one brave and wise officer remained in the middle and attempted to separate us. Only when the Iron Dome rockets lit up the sky with their golden blazes and intercepted a rocket right over us did the two groups stop their shouts for a moment, mesmerized by the sight, from the boom, and then once again: “Death to Arabs!”, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies!”

But our fear was justified. By the end of the protest (and a little after it, when they chased us through the streets) one person who had a chair broken over his head was injured and evacuated to hospital, another got punched hard in the head, and one came our with a black eye, someone else had their expensive video camera stolen, and dozens of others hit, pushed, or eggs thrown at them. Some also said that the fascists attacked them with pepper spray. And that’s how it became dangerous to demonstrate in Tel Aviv. Less so because of rockets from Gaza – more because of the fascists and the government’s incitement.

It was clear from the start that it wasn’t going to end well. We came to protest the ongoing killing in Gaza, against both sides’ firing on civilians, against the occupation and to demonstrate for peace...

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The IDF doesn't only aim at Hamas targets

Over a 160 people killed, entire neighborhoods which receive arbitrary warnings, entire families that have been bombed using hundreds of tons of explosives, shooting at a journalists’ car  and hitting hospitals and schools. No, we do not only shoot  at Hamas targets.

(Translated from Hebrew by Sol Salbe)

On Saturday evening, Hamas issued a warning, saying it was going to bomb Tel Aviv at 9 p.m. It did, and luckily the rockets were intercepted by Iron Dome. Sunday morning the IDF issued a similar warning to all residents of “the northern Gaza Strip,” saying it will attack the entire area at noon. Can anyone see the difference? Does saying you’re going to attack a civilian area exempt you from responsibility for the civilians you target? I don’t think so.

But let’s start with the facts: so far, IDF bombing of the Gaza Strip has killed more than a 160 people, of whom at least 24 were children and infants.

Ruins of the home of Al Haddad family, which was destroyed by an a Israeli drone missile, in Al Shaja'ia neighborhood, Gaza City, July 12, 2014. The family of 25 people evacuated the building before the home was hit. (Photo: Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

Ruins of the home of Al Haddad family, which was destroyed by an a Israeli drone missile, in Al Shaja’ia neighborhood, Gaza City, July 12, 2014. The family of 25 people evacuated the building before the home was hit. (Photo: Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

A large proportion of the bombings is directed at residential buildings. Sometimes a warning is provided and sometimes it isn’t.  And according to the military, in at least one occasion it was in error. A mistake that killed eight members of a family. In some cases fire was directed at homes in which Hamas members live, and in the process many members of their families and passersby have been killed.

Sometimes the army announces its intention to attack a home but it simply just doesn’t. Journalist Abeer Ayyoub and her family waited 24 hours (and perhaps they’re still waiting) in trepidation and fear of a bombing of neighbor’s house who has received a telephone warning (Ayyoub reported her account in Haaretz).

Read +972′s full coverage and analysis of the operation in Gaza

In addition, several days ago the army sent messages...

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It's time to talk about Gaza

For the sake of both the residents of Israel’s south and the Palestinians, we must speak about Gaza as a place with real people, rather than as a science experiment.

Over the past few years, the Israeli public discussion has reduced conditions in Gaza to one of two situations: either it’s the place where rockets are fired from, or it’s the place where rockets are momentarily not being fired from.

Responses to the rocket fire are determined accordingly: attack with vigor or hold back; refrain from entering the Strip or recreate the “achievements” of Operation Cast Lead; allow building materials or don’t; escalate or refrain. Gaza is a kind of scientific experiment where Israel tries to reach the perfect degree of “deterrence” or “restraint” in order to maintain “quiet.”

Palestinian workers salvage building materials near Erez Crossing at the northern border between Gaza and Israel, Beit Hanoun, February 18, 2014. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Palestinian workers salvage building materials near Erez Crossing at the northern border between Gaza and Israel, Beit Hanoun, February 18, 2014. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Now, we are once more in a period of escalation. Once more “code red” alarms tear the residents of Sderot and the rest of the area near the border from their beds in the middle of the night and threaten them during the day. Rockets fall on homes and factories, and normal life comes to a complete halt. Once more, the Israel Air Force bombs the Strip and prevents its residents from a full night’s rest. Only a month ago did the IAF kill seven-year-old Abed Awar. But who even remembers that? It’s likely that the current round won’t end in a ground operation, and things will return to normal. Until next time.

As Jack Khoury reported today in Haaretz, Hamas is not interested in an escalation and denies responsibility for the kidnapping. Despite the army’s major raid on the party’s institutions in the West Bank, the arrest of hundreds of its members and the bombings in Gaza – Hamas has signaled to Israel that it wants to restore calm. In the current political situation, with its recent agreement to enter into the Palestinian technocratic government (and with no ability to work outside that government due to hostility from Egypt and a lack of support from the...

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West Bank kidnapping: Israel's crackdown moves beyond Hamas militants

By arresting Hamas-affiliated journalists, charity workers and parliament members, Israel is going way beyond any attempt at trying to find the kidnapped teens.

Someone’s gotta say it: what Israel has been doing in the West Bank over the past several days goes way beyond any attempt at trying to find the kidnapped teens. It is a military and political attack on Hamas intended on serving the government’s agenda, with no connection to the attempts to find the teens, and no clear connection between Hamas and the kidnapping.

Israeli soldiers smile as they arrest a Palestinian man in Hebron. The army has put the city under closure while it searches for three kidnapped teenagers. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers smile as they arrest a Palestinian man in Hebron. The army has put the city under closure while it searches for three kidnapped teenagers. (photo: Activestills.org)

Let me clarify: I am sure that the army is making efforts to find the three, and I hope they are found and returned, safe and sound, as soon as possible. But this does not justify the cynical exploitation of the circumstances for other political goals entirely.

Over the last couple of days, the army’s operations have extended into Bethlehem and Nablus – the heart of Area A (where the Palestinian Authority is in charge of both security and civil matters). The army arrested members of Hamas’ charity organization, as well as journalists affiliated with Hamas and the head of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who is a member of the party. A total of 200 people. Computers and weapons were also confiscated. And all this while the search after the teenagers is focused on the Hebron area, which is under closure. There is no doubt that many of these operations are unrelated to the teens, and that no one in the army thinks that charity workers, journalists or parliamentarians know where they are.

A Palestinian youth, arrested and blindfolded by Israeli soldiers during the closure on Hebron. (photo: Activestills)

A Palestinian youth, arrested and blindfolded by Israeli soldiers during the closure on Hebron. (photo: Activestills)

While military operations grow, both Israel’s military and political leadership are undergoing a certain change. If, during the first two days, the rhetoric included talks...

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West Bank kidnapping: The Palestinian unity government's first real test

Regardless of who is responsible, the new Fatah-Hamas unity government will be watched closely for its response to the kidnappings.

Hours after a gag order prevented the Israeli media from publishing the story, we can now report that three Israeli teens, who study in the West Bank, have even missing since Thursday night. The IDF fears that their lives are in danger after being kidnapped, and that they may be held in the Hebron area. Both Palestinians and settlers have been reporting about military operations in both the south Hebron Hills and the nearby city of Yatta throughout the day. There were also reports of gunfire being exchanged between the army and armed Palestinians. Rumors abound on social media outlets, though it is too early to say what exactly happened.

What is certain is that if the three were indeed kidnapped by Palestinians, and let’s hope they are released soon, it will be the first test for the new Palestinian unity government. With the its establishment in Ramallah last week, Mahmoud Abbas declared that the Fatah-Hamas partnership, which is at the basis of the government, includes respecting prior agreements signed with Israel, such as opposition to violence. Even Israel, which announced that it was cutting ties with the Palestinian Authority, as well as a total cessation of peace negotiations (due to Hamas’ inclusion in the government), committed to continued security coordination. Even this, according to many Palestinians, is too close for comfort.

Read: Three Israeli teens feared kidnapped in the West Bank

We will have to wait and find out the identity of the kidnappers and to which organization they belong. But come what may, it is clear that the world will closely examine the new government’s response to the incident, as well as that of Hamas. To what degree do the Palestinian Authority’s security forces cooperate with the IDF? Are Hamas members involved in the kidnapping? If so, did they act with permission from the higher-ups, or against their will? How will Hamas respond to the incident? And if Hamas was not involved, which organizations stand behind it? Does this signal a new opposition to the new PLO, similar to Hamas’ position vis-a-vis the old one?

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Is Israel recognizing the Palestinian national unity government after all?

If the Israeli government insists on boycotting the new Palestinian unity government, how can it also insist on pouring money into the Palestinian Authority?

By the end of June, Israel is expected to once more sit at the same table as the Palestinian Authority – the same Palestinian Authority that it has been so adamant on boycotting following the formation of the new national unity government. The two parties will sit together with the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), a coordinating body formed in 1993 to regulate donations from various states to the PA, with Israel as a monitoring party, at an annual meeting in Brussels on June 24th.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs told +972 that Israel plans to take part in the meeting, although formal invitations have not yet sent out by the chairman, who is based in Norway.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the swearing in ceremony for the new unity government, Ramallah, June 2, 2014. (Photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the swearing in ceremony for the new unity government, Ramallah, June 2, 2014. (Photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Since its formation , Israel has been trying to discourage the international community from recognizing  the national unity government – and has been failing miserably. The U.S., Russia, EU, UN and many other countries have ignored Israel’s warnings that because the new government includes Hamas, it is therefore considered a terrorist-influenced government. Israel itself has announced that all negotiations will come to a halt, that it will forbid Palestinian elections from taking place in East Jerusalem and that new construction in the settlements will be launched in retaliation. In spite of all this, it appears that in two weeks, the same Israeli government will be encouraging donor states at the AHLC to send their money in order to sustain the PA. How is this possible?

The fact is, it is not only possible but also quite reasonable for Netanyahu to act this way. From the Israeli political center’s point of view – which strives to keep the status quo going for as long as it can – there is nothing worse than the idea of the PA collapsing. Even recognizing the Hamas-supported government is better than losing the authority that serves...

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'Administrative detainees must have done something wrong'

When discussing administrative detention with Israelis, there comes a point when the discussion becomes an argument like one about religion — based on blind faith in the security establishment.

By definition, administrative detainees have not committed a crime. An administrative detention order is issued against people (almost all of whom are Palestinians) against whom there is no evidentiary basis to be put on trial. None at all. Because there is no evidence, there is also no indictment, no trial, no opportunity for the detainee to dispute the charges against him, no conviction and no verdict or sentencing to determine the length of a prison term. On the one hand an administrative detainee has committed no crime, and on the other hand, there is no limit to the amount of time he or she can be jailed.

True, there is “judicial oversight” by a military judge — behind closed doors — over the detention orders that are renewed every six months. Anyone who happens to read the protocol of such hearings will figure out very quickly that they are a joke. Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) agents present secret evidence and and interrogations of the detainee and they refuse to answer any of his lawyers’ questions about the rationale for issuing the detention order. The detainee has no way of defending himself because he does not know of what he is accused. And so people end up in prison — for many years sometimes.

I’ve met administrative detainees — before, during and after they were held in administrative detention. Some of them are political activists and protest organizers. Others, like some of those who are currently imprisoned and have been on hunger strike for more than a month now, they are Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Some of the detainees are sick or elderly. And there are others, like Palestinian soccer player Mahmoud Sarsak, who was imprisoned for three years without ever being indicted and was released only after launching a three-month hunger strike. It is not known, nor has it been published exactly how he threatened or harmed Israeli state security.

Palestinian youth protest in solidarity with soccer player Mahmoud Sarsak, who was held in administrative detention for three years. Nablus, 2012. (Photo by Ahmad al-Baz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth protest in solidarity with soccer...

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Hamas, Fatah say unity gov't could be finalized in days

The makeup and formation of a technocratic unity government could be announced within days, or as soon as Egypt’s elections are finalized, Palestinian officials tell +972.

Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas agreed on the formation of a unity government in accordance with the reconciliation deal reached last month, a number of Palestinian officials told +972 Magazine on Wednesday. An official announcement about the formation of the government is expected in the coming days or as soon as Thursday.

The announcement is being delayed until the results of Egypt’s presidential elections are published, along with a few final disagreements about appointments to government positions. Both sides estimated that the remaining disagreements are not insurmountable.

Read also:
Why Fatah-Hamas reconciliation might just work this time
True Palestinian reconciliation must include refugees

The new Palestinian government is expected to be composed of technocrats and will be headed by current caretaker Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. It will be designated as temporary government until general elections can be held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The last Palestinian elections took place in 2006, when Hamas won.

According to Nasser Laham, editor-in-chief of Palestinian news agency Ma’an, no major changes are expected in day-to-day life in either the Strip or the West Bank following the announcement of a new government. The separate security forces of Hamas and Fatah are expected to continue ruling their respective territories.

In what it said was its last-ever meeting, the Hamas cabinet in Gaza said on Tuesday that it, “is ready to hand over its full responsibilities to the unity government,” the Associated Press reported.

A senior official in Hamas confirmed to +972 Magazine that the government should be announced this week. However, it will not likely take place before the results of Egypt’s elections are published.

The assumption is that Egypt’s deteriorating relations with Hamas — since the coup that ousted President Morsi — was one of the major factors that led to Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. Additionally, the continued rule of Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will only increase the Gazan government’s interests in reaching a deal with Ramallah.

In addition to the formation of a unity government, the Palestinian reconciliation deal is slated to lead to Hamas’s inclusion in the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Related:
More than just the PA at stake in Palestinian reconciliation
Why Fatah-Hamas reconciliation might just work...



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Young Palestinian girls detained on suspicion of - eating cherries

Four Palestinian girls, at least one of whom is under the age of criminal culpability, are detained and brought for interrogation — without their parents being present — based on a complaint made by a local settler.

Israeli soldiers and police detained four Palestinian girls between the ages of 11 and 15 on suspicion of — eating cherries from trees belonging to the Jewish settlement of Maon in the south Hebron hills on Tuesday. The four were held at the Kiryat Arba police station.

The girls, who live in Khirbet Tuba in the south Hebron hills and go to school in a-Twane, are escorted to and from school on a daily basis by Israeli soldiers. The escorts are a response to years of harassment by settlers who attack Palestinian children on their way to and home from school.

According to B’Tselem, a settler from Maon told the soldiers who were escorting the Palestinian girls that they ate some cherries from the settlement’s trees. According to the report, the soldiers immediately called the police, who took the girls to the Kiryat Arba police station to be interrogated.

Special coverage: Children under occupation

Atty. Gaby Lasky, who is representing the minors, spoke with police on the phone and she was told that the 11 year old and another girl, who apparently has learning and speech disabilities, were released once their parents were contacted. The two others were being held for questioning.

“I have a murder and manslaughter cases that they haven’t questioned the suspects for over a year, but [these girls] need to be interrogated immediately, and without the presence of their parents,” Lasky said.

If the girls were Jewish, it would be illegal for the police to question them without the presence of their parents.

A request for comment was sent to the police and IDF spokespersons. We will update this article if and when they respond.

Update: According to B’Tselem, the two remaining girls were being released without charge or bail.

Related:
WATCH: IDF detains 5-year-old Palestinian in Hebron
Assessing developments in Israel’s juvenile military courts

Read this post in Hebrew on ‘Local Call’ here.



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Israeli soldiers kill two Palestinians during Nakba Day protest

Two Palestinians, Muhammad Abu Thahr, 22, and Nadim Nuwara, 17, were pronounced dead at a Ramallah hospital on Thursday after being shot by Israeli soldiers during a Nakba Day demonstration. According to human rights organization B’Tselem, one of the youth was not breathing upon arrival at the hospital and died on the operating table.

Palestinians throw stones at an Israeli military jeep during a Nakba Day protest in the village of Al-Walaja. (photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinians throw stones at an Israeli military jeep during a Nakba Day protest in the village of Al-Walaja. (photo: Activestills.org)

The two were shot during a demonstration marking Nakba Day outside Ofer Military Prison in the West Bank city Beitunia. A photojournalist who was at the protest told +972 that the Israeli army used large amounts of both live ammunition and tear gas, and that one of the dead was shot in his neck.

Thousands of Palestinians across Israel/Palestine marked Nakba Day with rallies in Hebron, Nablus, Ramallah and East Jerusalem.

This is a developing story.

For more +972 coverage from Nakba Day:
Who’s afraid of the right of return?
Liberating Israeli Jews from the dark legacy of the Nakba
A rights-based discourse is the best way to fight dispossession




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Ehud Olmert is going to jail for the wrong crimes

During his premiership, Ehud Olmert was responsible for two of the most horrific military operations of the past decade. More than 1,000 Lebanese, a third of them civilians, and 165 Israelis, a quarter of them civilians, were killed in the Second Lebanon War.

In the wake of the war, the IDF developed the Dahiya doctrine, by which the army deliberately targets civilian infrastructure as a means of inflicting suffering on the civilian population in “enemy cities.” Not three yearswent by and Olmert sent the army to implement the new doctrine in Gaza. Operation Cast Lead took the lives of nearly 1,400 Palestinians, more than half of whom were civilians, and nine Israelis, of whom three were civilians (these statistics do not include Palestinians and Israelis killed by friendly fire).

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert enters the courtroom at the Tel Aviv District Court prior to the reading of his sentence in the Holyland trial, May 13 2014 (Photo: Activestills.org)

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert enters the courtroom at the Tel Aviv District Court prior to the reading of his sentence in the Holyland trial, May 13 2014 (Photo: Activestills.org)

The IDF stated that each military operation is taken under serious consideration and implemented with utmost care. And yet, somehow, in the operations that followed, the army was somehow able to show more restraint and decrease the number of deaths, especially among non-combatants.

Ehud Olmert is responsible for both of these terrible events. He has blood on his hands. The blood of over 2,000 people. Today he was sent to jail for six years for accepting bribes in order to build some ugly buildings in Jerusalem. When will he be put on trial for the serious crimes he committed?

This post was first published in Hebrew on Local Call.

Related:
Former Prime Minister Olmert sentenced to six years in prison for bribery


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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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