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WATCH: Two conscientious objectors sent to military prison

Kaplan served two years in the army before deciding to refuse. The two are expected to serve additional prison terms.

Text by Haggai Matar
Video by Israel Social TV

Two conscientious objectors, Yaron Kaplan and Ido Ramon, were sentenced to 30 and 10 days in prison, respectively, for their refusal to serve in the Israeli army.

For Kaplan, it is his first imprisonment. Until now he served as a conscripted soldier and decided to refuse to complete the final year of his service.

During a protest at the Tel Aviv induction base last week, Kaplan explained that he feels obligated to refuse as a way of outstretching a hand of peace to his Palestinian partners in the struggle for peace and security for both peoples in this land.

For Ramon it is his second imprisonment. He previously declared that he would not serve in the army, “which describes itself as ‘the most moral army in the world’ but rules over millions of people under occupation, violating their most basic rights.”

The two are expected to be jailed again after their release.


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Pre-army students to Netanyahu: 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.

On the eve of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, approximately 130 students in a pre-military academy sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on him not to deport asylum seekers to countries where they would face danger.

The letter was sent in the wake of several reports that revealed the State’s plan to change its policy from “voluntary repatriation” (a policy strongly encouraged by the government, which included jailing asylum seekers in Holot prison) to a policy of forced deportation of asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea to Uganda and Rwanda.

The letter was sent by students at the Telem pre-military academy in Jaffa who recently visited Holot, where they met with asylum seekers and heard their stories. Since their visit, the students at Telem have moved to other pre-military academies, where they have taught classes about the situation in Sudan and Eritrea. “At the end of the lessons, we took down people’s contact information, and now that it was revealed that they are trying to deport asylum seekers, we turned to the same people and got their signatures for the letter,” says Shira Levi from Telem.

Among the signatories are all the students at Telem, most of the students at Minsharim Kalo in Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael and students from other pre-military academies from across the country.

Here is a portion of the letter:

“Over these past months, the Administration of Population and Immigration has been initiating a change in policy, according to which asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea will be forcibly deported to a third country under a shroud of secrecy. This move has no global precedent, especially from a democratic country that has signed on to the 1951 Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, not to mention a country whose history is one of refugees. This decision does not secure the protection of the asylum seekers in the slightest, and prevents them from securing their rights to life and safety.

“We call on the Israeli government to immediately check asylum seekers’ refugee requests as agreed upon in the Convention and according to international standards. Our hope is that especially at this time, when we...

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WATCH: Israeli soldiers party in demolished settlement outpost

The Givat Sorek outpost, built on private Palestinian land, was destroyed by Israeli soldiers just a week ago. Now it has become an area for soldiers to relax and barbecue.

Soldiers from the Golani Brigade were filmed relaxing and barbecuing in an illegal settlement outpost near Hebron on Tuesday. The outpost was destroyed just a week ago following a High Court ruling.

The “Givat Sorek” outpost, which was was established in the wake of the murder of the three teenagers last June is located between the Karmei Tzur settlement and the Palestinian city Halhul. According to Yehuda Wald, who chairs the Karmei Tzur secretariat, the outpost included a synagogue in honor of the teens, and a rest spot for soldiers serving in the area.

The only issue is: the outpost was established on privately-owned Palestinian land belonging to residents Halhul. The residents, along with Israeli NGO Rabbis for Human Rights petitioned the High Court, demanding that the outpost be demolished. While leaders in Karmei Tzur reject the claim that the land belongs to Palestinians, the High Court established that the outpost was illegal, ordering the state to demolish it. Soldiers arrived in Givat Sorek last week and destroyed the buildings that had been erected there. Wald announced that the settlers would continue to struggle and hold on to the land.

Read more: The lie Israel sold the world — settlement ‘outposts’ 

On Tuesday, an activist with Rabbis for Human Rights and Ta’ayush visited the sight of the outpost, only to find a large group of Golani soldiers relaxing in a new structure that had been established alongside the ruins of the outpost. An officer who was on the scene spoke with the activist, stating that he is not aware that the structure is illegal, and that he received permission from his commander to relax there with his soldiers. Another soldier told the activist that the the place is designated for the soldiers’ enjoyment, and therefore destroying it would make no sense.

The IDF Spokesperson has yet issue a response.

Read this article in Hebrew here.

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Netanyahu's hypocrisy about intervening in other countries' affairs

What would happen if a foreign country started lobbying for bills in the Israeli Knesset, going so far as to seek the insertion of specific clauses into them?

The Right in Israel isn’t the biggest fan of foreign countries getting involved in its affairs. It’s true when it comes to the European Union providing shelter for Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank, or supporting human rights organizations that challenge aspects of Israeli legislation in Israeli courts, or Netanyahu’s unproven allegations that European states funded campaigns to increase Arab voter participation in hopes of ousting him as prime minister.

None of that stops the same right-wing Israeli politicians getting involved in other countries’ internal affairs. Three months after Netanyahu urged French Jews to emigrate to Israel, and a month after he broke diplomatic protocol by speaking to Congress to denounce President Obama’s policies without first coordinating with the White House, Netanyahu is now planning to get involved in shaping American legislation.

Haaretz on Tuesday cited a “senior [Israeli] official” saying that the Israeli government is planning to try and rally support for a bill in Congress that will make it difficult for Obama to sign a final nuclear agreement with Iran. Not only that, Israel plans to try and shape the legislation itself, according to the report, urging legislators to insert a specific clause into the bill.

What would happen if a foreign country started lobbying for bills in the Israeli Knesset, going so far as to seek the insertion of specific clauses into them? It’s safe to assume that Netanyahu would be the first one screaming bloody murder about the whole process and anyone involved in it. We would very quickly see Likud and Jewish Home-sponsored legislation aimed a curbing such activity.

And let’s not forget: the European Union’s (uninvited) attempts at intervention in Israeli policy deal almost exclusively with the question of the occupation. For example, Israel’s illegal actions in the territories beyond its borders (establishing settlements, exploiting natural resources, preventing Palestinian development, and more), the way it treats millions of non-citizens who don’t enjoy its — or anyone else’s — protection. Israel’s current intervention in American legislation, on the other hand, is intended to sabotage a legitimate international agreement advancing peace between two sovereign states.

Read this article in Hebrew here.

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Israel puts feminist Palestinian MP in admin detention

Less than a week after she was arrested by Israeli soldiers, PLC member Khalida Jarrar was placed under administrative detention for six months.

Khalida Jarrar, a Palestinian feminist activist and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), will be placed under six months of administrative detention. The order, which was approved by a military court on Sunday, comes less than a week after Jarrar was arrested by Israeli soldiers in her home outside Ramallah.

Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial that is authorized by administrative order rather than by judicial decree.

After six months, the military will be able to extend her detention as many times as it deems fit. Under administrative detention, Jarrar is neither indicted nor sentenced by a court. In effect, she is being indefinitely detained without the ability to defend herself against non-existent charges.

The IDF Spokesperson told Ma’an News Agency that Jarrar, who is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), is involved in terror activity, and that her arrest is also connected to her refusal to comply with an internal expulsion order that forced her to move to Jericho in August.

According to Addameer, a Palestinian NGO that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons, Khalida’s attorney, Mahmoud Hassan, visited her in Hasharon Prison. Hassan reported that she is in good health and is taking her medicine regularly.

According to the Alternative Information Center, Jarrar is joining 16 other members of the PLC who are currently serving time in Israeli prisons, which means that more than 10 percent of Palestinian lawmakers are currently in Israeli prisons. Nine of those members — including Hamas member Aziz Dweik — are in administrative detention, and have not stood trial nor been sentenced. The PLC is comprised of 132 members who were elected in the last democratic elections held in the PA in 2006.

Correction:
A previous version of this article stated that Jarrar was ordered to four months of administrative detention. The order was for six months.

Related:
Israeli soldiers arrest feminist Palestinian lawmaker
PHOTOS: Palestinian prisoners, supporters struggle for freedom
In Photos: International Women’s Day in Israel-Palestine

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New books document 10 years of protest in Bil'in

‘Occupied Palestine Through My Lens’ is a visual chronicle of the West Bank village’s struggle against the Israeli separation barrier. ‘Children of Bil’in’ is a book of portraits of youngsters from the village, the proceeds of which will benefit Palestinian children with cancer.

When the bulldozers arrived in Bil’in for the first time, in February 2005, and the villagers went out to protect their lands from the separation barrier, Haitham Khatib decided that somebody has to start documenting the popular resistance. It couldn’t be that people are non-violently protesting against an army coming to steal their land (roughly 1,500 dunams — or 370 acres — of agricultural land) and nobody in the world sees it, he thought.

While his friends and family, residents of the small little-known Ramallah-area village, chained themselves to trees and clashed with soldiers, Khatib rushed to get a digital camera and simply started photographing. Within a few days he started uploading the photos to the Internet. He didn’t have any idea at the time that his photos would become the center of his life. In the 10 years that have since passed, during which the village became a symbol of Palestinian popular resistance, Khatib stopped working as an electrician, and became a professional video and stills photographer. Today, he makes his living from photojournalism and is publishing his first two books of his photography.

“I’ve wanted for a long time to publish a book about the story of Bil’in, and the story of Palestine, through the eyes of somebody who lives here,” Khatib says. “I’ve collected a ton of photos over the years, some of which I’ve sold to news outlets, but many of which are lying around waiting me to have an opportunity to publish them. Publishing these books is an opportunity for me, both to tell our story to the world, and also to make a living from the sales — so I can continue to photograph.”

Haitham Khatib’s two books — “Children of Bil’in” and “Occupied Palestine Through My Lens,” are being published this year by a London-based publisher specializing on Palestine, with the help of Tazim Hamid. “Occupied Palestine Through My Lens” is a chronicle of Khatib’s photos of the struggle against the separation barrier, and of day-to-day life in the West Bank, along with texts that he wrote with the help of international activists. The second book is shorter...

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Israeli soldiers arrest feminist Palestinian lawmaker

Six months after she was ordered to move from her home near Ramallah to Jericho, the army arrests Palestinian parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar. She will join 16 other Palestinian lawmakers currently serving time in Israeli prisons.

Israeli soldiers arrested Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, in her home in Al-Bireh (near Ramallah) during the early hours of Thursday morning. Jarrar, a feminist activist who is also active on issues regarding human rights of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, is a member of the PLC (the Palestinian parliament) on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). She was arrested just two days after the 20th Knesset was sworn in.

The IDF Spokesperson has yet to respond to +972′s request for comment regarding the cause of Jarrar’s arrest or regarding the authority of the Israeli army to operate in areas under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (which contravenes the Oslo Accords). The Israeli news site Walla! reported that Jarrar was arrested on “suspicion of terrorist activity.”

In August, soldiers arrived at Jarrar’s home to present her with an internal expulsion order demanding she move to Jericho within 24 hours for a period of a 1.5 years. Jarrar refused and remained in her home. Now, half-a-year later, she was arrested for unspecified reasons. Jarrar is known for her harsh criticism of the Palestinian Authority, and specifically its security coordination with Israel.

According to the Alternative Information Center, Jarrar is joining 16 other members of the PLC who are currently serving time in Israeli prisons, which means that more than 10 percent of Palestinian lawmakers are currently in Israeli prisons. Nine of those members — including Hamas member Aziz Dweik — are in administrative detention, and have not stood trial nor been sentenced. The PLC is comprised of 132 members who were elected in the last democratic elections held in the PA in 2006.

This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

Related:
PHOTOS: Palestinian prisoners, supporters struggle for freedom
In Photos: International Women’s Day in Israel-Palestine

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Will Israelis ever hear about attacks on Gaza's fishermen?

These incidents — in which the Israeli army infiltrates the Gaza Strip, shoots at fishermen, confiscates their boats and fires at farmers near the border zone — they are part of daily life in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Hamas militants did not infiltrate the border between Israel and Gaza on Thursday morning. However, four Israeli military bulldozers did cross the border near Rafah in southern Gaza Thursday, Ma’an reported. On Wednesday, Israeli forces entered the northern Strip to neutralize a bomb, according to Ynet. The IDF Spokesperson did not provide a specific reason to for Thursday’s operation, aside from a claim of “suspicious activity.” The incident did not appear in the Hebrew media.

Neither Israeli military nor civilian boats were attacked near Gaza. Nevertheless, the Israeli Navy attacked a Gaza fisherman’s boat, causing it damage. The IDF Spokesperson did not comment on the event to either Ma’an or +972 Magazine. Like the previous incident, the attack was not mentioned in the Hebrew media.

Just two weeks ago, soldiers killed Tawfik Abu-Riala, a 34-year-old fisherman from Gaza. At first, the army reported that Abu-Riala left the six-mile maritime zone in which Israel allows Palestinians to fish. It later turned out, however, that Abu-Riala was well within the zone. Despite the unnecessary death, head of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ram Rothberg, decided that the firing was justified, and that no one would be put on trial for it. According to the al-Mizan Center for Human Rights, two fishermen have been killed by Israeli soldiers since the end of Operation Protective Edge, while at least 49 have been arrested, 17 wounded and 12 boats have been confiscated.

These incidents — in which the Israeli army infiltrates the Gaza Strip, shoots at fishermen, confiscates their boats and fires at farmers near the border zone — they are part of daily life in the besieged Gaza Strip. They are the everyday aspects of living in a giant prison controlled by Israel. But we barely hear about them.

It is obvious that if things were the other way around, and navy boats were being fired upon, or if Palestinians had crossed he border into Israel, the incidents would have been top news item on every news outlet. Not only that, it would have lead to a major public discussion on Palestinian aggression, the lack of a peace partner,...

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Spitting in the face of Israel's Arab citizens

The success of the Joint List is the Arab public’s message — an outstretched hand — to its Jewish compatriots, which is the antithesis of the message it received in return.

By Haggai Matar and Yael Marom

Nearly one quarter of Israeli voters cast their ballots for a prime minister whose central message to the public on election day was that Arab citizens of Israel are the enemy.

An almost equal number of people cast their votes for: the guy who joined him in delivering that message, the head of the most right-wing party in the Knesset (Naftali Bennett); the guy who based his entire campaign on incitement against Arabs (Avigdor Liberman); the guy who said he would not sit in a government that relies on the votes of Arabs (Moshe Kahlon); and, the guy who rejected an outstretched hand from the Arab parties offering to form an alliance of the oppressed (Arye Deri). Their levels of support are even higher if you look only at the Jewish voting public.

Meet the 34th government of Israel, ladies and gentlemen.

Do not discount the message delivered at the ballot box on Tuesday, especially considering the massive victory of the Joint List, the third-largest party in the next Knesset. With 14 seats representing over 400,000 voters, and with above-average voter participation, the success of the Joint List is the Palestinian public in Israel’s message to its Jewish compatriots, which was the antithesis of the message it got in return.

For weeks, Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh has been all over Israeli television, radio, newspapers and every type of online media. He broadcast a message of openness, of partnership, of striving for equality, of democracy, of a struggle for social justice — for all Israelis. He spoke of reconciliation and of turning a new leaf.

Tuesday night, when Israeli television was busy interviewing every politician in the land, save for those gathered in Nazareth, long before there was a clear picture of the results, Odeh and MK Dov Khenin sent a message to Isaac Herzog. They told him they would recommend him as the next prime minister if he took them on as partners. It could have been historic.

That outstretched hand should not be taken for granted. These elections came after two years in which the Knesset did everything in its power to broadcast to the Arab public...

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A glimmer of hope in Israeli elections

Three months ago, I would have told you that the Right will sweep the elections. But this election cycle has shown that people are looking for an alternative, and that the Left still has a lot of work to do.

Regardless of the results of Tuesday’s election, these last few months have signaled a positive change: a question mark, a reminder of summer 2011, a leftward turn.

When elections were announced three months ago, no one truly understood what they were about or why they were even necessary. Only few doubted that the next Knesset would look significantly different from the previous one, and it seemed that, one way or another, Benjamin Netanyahu would remain the prime minister. A Channel 10 poll published around that time showed that Likud would win 22 seats, Jewish Home would get 17, while both Yisrael Beiteinu and Kahlon would receive 12. All in all, a total of 63 seats for the Right, and that’s before taking into account the ultra-Orthodox parties.

A wave of splits and unifications (Zionist Camp, Shas-Yachad, Yachad-Otzma Yehudit, The Joint List), Yisrael Beiteinu’s corruption scandal and the party primaries created a feeling of uncertainty, especially after delaying the launch of the campaigns, which got off to a start with bizarre videos and weak billboards.

The Right incites, the Left offers hope

But things are looking differently as we approach the finish line. Netanyahu may very well be declared Israel’s next prime minister, whether in a Right/ultra-Orthodox coalition or in a unity government with Zionist Camp. But this is no longer the only option. Likud is feeling the heat, and the entire right-wing camp is now putting out negative messages that offer no hope: the Iranian threat, refusing peace, incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel (whose very democratic right to vote is seen as a threat, by the prime minister) and zero social justice. According to the polls, Bibi is no longer King, while Bennett — the rising star of the last few years — has been dealt a blow over his party’s outwardly homophobic platform and Liberman is coming close to not passing the election threshold that he himself called for.

It seems that the other parties, however, are making hopeful gains. The rise of Yair Lapid and Moshe Kahlon — both of whom are running on an economic ticket — is a sign...

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The Israelis who are giving their votes to Palestinians

The ‘Real Democracy’ campaign provides a platform for those living under Israeli rule without voting rights to cast a ballot on Tuesday. In the last elections many Palestinians asked their Israeli proxies to boycott the ballot box; this time they are largely supporting the Joint List.

Dozens of Israelis last week announced that they will give their votes in Tuesday’s elections to Palestinians in the occupied territories and asylum seekers. The “Real Democracy” campaign, launched by the One World movement, is intended to protest the fact that millions of people live under Israeli rule and are directly affected by the government’s policies — yet have no right to vote themselves.

The campaign’s Facebook page includes videos showing asylum seekers and Palestinians in the West Bank explaining why they are asking Israelis to give them their votes, as well as Israelis who accept their challenge. Dozens of Israelis have already either written on the page or sent private messages to the organizers, expressing their desire to give up their votes.

This is the second election in which the “Real Democracy” campaign has connected Israelis interested in abdicating their right to vote and those who are not allowed to vote (the 2013 election only included Palestinians). In the next elections, promise the organizers, Israelis will also be able to give their vote to Iranian citizens, who may come under Israeli attack, or to Filipinos, who are harmed by climate change that Israel is partially responsible for. The campaign is organized by “One World,” a movement that seeks to create a worldwide federal system, in which every global citizen has an equal voice in political and economic matters.

“People are donating their voice without knowing who they will be asked to vote for, although there aren’t many parties who care for Palestinians and African refugees,” explains Shimri Zameret, one of the campaign organizers. “In the last election, most of the Palestinians supported Hadash or boycotting, few supported Balad, Meretz and Ra’am-Ta’al. I boycotted the previous elections at the request of Palestinian from Hebron.”

“This time we are seeing a lot of Palestinians feeling excited about the Joint List, and far fewer are asking us to boycott,” says Zameret....

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For the IDF, marriage isn't a 'humanitarian need'

What kind of future is Israel offering Palestinian women when they can’t even obtain permits to leave the country in search of a better life?

Amira Hass published an article in Haaretz last week about the Israel government rejecting a request by a young woman from Gaza to travel to Turkey in order to get married and live there. The young woman turned to Israel’s District Coordination and Liaison Office through the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee for permission to exit through the Erez Crossing into the West Bank. From there should would first travel to Jordan before taking off for Turkey.

According to the government’s response, weddings simply do not meet the criteria for humanitarian needs. Of course, under Israel’s policy of siege and blockade, only those with real humanitarian needs — at least as defined by Israel — can exit the Gaza Strip. After all, why should we let a young bride marry if she isn’t bringing down the Hamas government?

Meanwhile, Ma’an News Agency published an article last Monday about the number of babies born to long-serving Palestinian prisoners (through smuggled sperm) rising to 35. Rula Matar, the wife of Palestinian prisoner Fadi Matar (no familial relation – H.M.), who was sentenced to 10.5 years in Israel jail, gave birth to twins using sperm smuggled from prison to a fertility clinic in Nablus.

As opposed to the treatment of Israeli prisoners — including Yigal Amir, who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 — the state prevents Palestinian prisoners from conjugal visits, and refuses to recognize their right to bring children into the world. This only leads to an increase in sperm smuggling.

These two women have not been accused of anything. They do not endanger the security of the region. They are neither members of the Islamic State nor nuclear engineers in Iran. All they want to do is lead normal lives. The woman from Gaza wants to get married and leave Gaza — to live her life far away from here. Rula Matar gave birth eight years ago, she wanted another boy or girl (and in the end got both). Meanwhile, Israel can arbitrarily prevent these women from enjoying the most basic aspects of a normalcy.

These are small, day-to-day examples of Israel’s control over the West Bank and Gaza. There are many others. What can we say to these women? What can Israeli...

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Who really profits from Israel's permit regime?

The number of work permits the Israeli army gives to Palestinian workers nearly tripled, a new Bank of Israel report reveals. Did all those people suddenly become less dangerous, or do the permits serve interests other than security?

The normative framework for viewing Israel’s permit regime is that it stems purely from the state’s security needs — a tool that allows the state to differentiate between those Palestinians who threaten Israel’s security, and those who do not.

This notion remains largely unchallenged despite the fact that, time after time, its arbitrariness is made clear: during every Jewish holiday the permits are canceled and a full closure is imposed on the occupied territories. People who are otherwise considered non-threatening workers are jailed for a few days in the West Bank. During every major Muslim holiday, and especially during Eid el-Fitr, all of a sudden the checkpoint gates swing open, allowing thousands of Palestinians to enjoy one day at Al-Aqsa Mosque or at the beach in Tel Aviv. And then they return to their previous classification as “dangerous,” as if they didn’t pose a threat during the holiday. And all that is without even getting into how work permits and medical procedures as a way to extort Palestinians as collaborators — to use Palestinian society against itself.

On Tuesday, the Bank of Israel published statistics on the increasing number of Palestinian workers in Israel. Over the last seven years, the number of workers with permits nearly tripled, while the number of workers who entered the country without permits nearly doubled. What led to the rise in permits? According to the Bank of Israel, the reason is the Israeli government’s decision to increase the size of the construction and agriculture workforce, as well the “relative quiet” in the West Bank.

While “relative quiet” is a security determination, it applies exclusively to the collective, rather than individuals. It is a political determination that punishes Palestinians for “disturbing the peace,” rewards them for “keeping the peace,” but has nothing to do with any individual person. The fact that there were 21,000 Palestinian workers with permits in 2007, and 59,000 Palestinian workers with permits in 2015 does not mean that there were 38,000 very dangerous Palestinian workers seven years ago, who have since rehabilitated their dangerous ways.

Furthermore, the fact that Israel has 33,000 Palestinian workers without permits — who likely pass through...

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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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