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Alternative peace initiative comes under fire for 'normalization'

Pressure from both Palestinian activists and right-wing Israelis has put the spotlight on a conference that will present a new model for peace and coexistence. That is, if it ever happens in the first place.

A launch event for an alternative Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative, slated to take place next week in the West Bank, is on the receiving harsh criticism from both Palestinian activists and right-wing Israelis.

The initiative, titled “Two States, One Homeland,” was founded by veteran Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport and Palestinian political activist Awni al-Mashni. The initiative began when Rapoport and al-Mashni, who sat in an Israeli prison for 12 years and writes regularly for Palestinian media outlets, started a discussion group that included Palestinians and Israelis from both the occupied territories and Israel who were interested in talking about a new confederation-based model as a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The founders attempted to diversify the group by including settlers, ultra-Orthodox and those who live in the periphery.

The event, which is supposed to take place at a hotel on the outskirts of Beit Jala, has come up against pressure by Palestinian activists on the hotel owners to cancel the event. The activists have announced that should it take place, they will protest the conference at the entrance to the hotel and will nonviolently attempt to prevent participants from entering.

In the wake of the pressure, both Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh and high-ranking PLO member and former PA minister Qadura Fares backed out of the event. Meanwhile, members of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community are pressuring prominent Shas member Adina Bar-Shalom and veteran Haredi journalist Rabbi Moshe Grileck to cancel their appearances.

A document published by the Two States, One Homeland group lays out its new model: dividing the land into two states, while maintaining open borders, freedom of movement for all and recognizing that the country is the homeland of two nations. According to the initiative, a solution to the conflict would allow settlers to remain residents — but not citizens — of the new Palestinian state, while Palestinian refugees could live in Israel, but only as citizens of Palestine.

Jerusalem, on the other hand, will function as the capital of both states via a joint municipality, and the two states will cooperate on issues of security, as well as prevention of violence and terrorism. Militias from both communities will disarm, and the two...

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Expulsion or not, Palestinians can declare victory at FIFA

As the vote on the possible expulsion of Israel from FIFA draws nearer, the Israeli delegation suddenly decides to discuss easing restrictions on Palestinian players, who just yesterday were deemed ‘security threats.’ What gives?

At this point, it is unclear whether FIFA will vote to expel Israel from soccer’s international governing body on Friday, or whether the vote will even happen in the first place.

What is clear is that a nonviolent Palestinian initiative akin to a sports boycott on Israel paid off. While the prime minister and the president of Israel are up in arms over a “strategic threat,” the Israeli delegation to FIFA will be busy finding ways to legitimize Israel in the eyes of the organization, especially in light of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian soccer players — the main reason behind the initiative to expel Israel.

[UPDATE: The Palestinian Football Association withdrew its decision to call on FIFA to expel Israel. Instead, the FIFA Congress passed an amended motion that will establish a committee that will oversee freedom of movement of Palestinian soccer players, Israeli racism and the status of Israeli teams based in the West Bank.]

According to Haaretz’s Barak Ravid and Moshe Boker, the delegation suggested issuing special entry permits that will allow soccer players to move more freely between Gaza, the West Bank and abroad; easing of building restrictions for soccer-related infrastructure in the West Bank; paying for some of the costs of sports accessories that Palestinians import through the Ashdod Port in southern Israel; and establishing a joint committee with FIFA and the Palestinians to solve issues that may arise.

According to the report, the head of Palestinian Football Federation, Jibril Rajoub, insists on an investigation of racism in Israeli soccer, as well kicking out teams based in West Bank settlements from the Israeli Football Association. These are legitimate demands, and there is a good chance they will be accepted by FIFA (it will be very interested to see how Israel will swallow the second one).

It is unclear how this story will end, but the very fact that Israel is willing to allow soccer players from Gaza to enter the West Bank tells the entire story. Why did this happen? Just yesterday, those same players were a terrifying security threat, and today? Or perhaps the Israeli government is all of a sudden willing to put its citizens at risk of...

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When an entire IDF platoon takes over your roof — for a photo

A two-minute video manages to perfectly capture the day-to-day banality of living under a military regime. 

I was able to count 37 soldiers. At least 37. One after another, each with his own weapon and combat vest, they climb up to roof the Abu Haya family’s home — located in the section of Hebron under direct Israeli military control.

Why? It’s unclear. They don’t speak with the members of the family. Or rather, they don’t explain. They simply utter things such as “close the door,” and “turn off the camera,” all while some of the soldiers are clearly enjoying themselves as they film the family from the staircase.

They ignore Muhammad Abu Haya’s (the owner of the house and the person behind the camera) questions, when he tries to understand what dozens of soldiers are doing heading to the roof of his house.

They reach the top, gather together and get ready for a group photo with a lovely view of Hebron in the background. “Put it on Instagram” says one of the soldiers at the end of the clip. It took the soldiers an hour to leave, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, which uploaded the video to its YouTube channel.

Of course, far more terrible things happen around the world. Even in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for example, one can talk about the thousands killed in wars over the past few years; or about the kidnapping and subsequent murder of four teenagers; or the violence in the streets of Jerusalem; or Hamas’ execution of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel during last summer’s war; or even the story of the very same Abu Haya family, when soldiers threatened to arrest a 14-year-old member of the family despite having admitted that he did nothing wrong, all while saying that they would arrest him in the future, regardless of whether or not he commits a crime.

And yet, there is something in the banality, the casual day-to-day aspect of this video that captures an essential component of the story of the occupation, of a military regime that runs the lives of millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Something in the lordship, the total blindness of the soldiers who, for no good reason (and without a military order) — without so much as explaining...

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Military court orders feminist Palestinian lawmaker released on bail

The military prosecution is planning to appeal the decision, and may even try to send Jarrar back into administrative detention.

An Israeli military court rejected the military prosecutor’s request Thursday to detain Palestinian Legislative Council member Khalida Jarrar until the end of legal proceedings. Jarrar was arrest in April by Israeli soldiers. She was first held in administrative detention, although she was later released and sentenced.

The court found that there is no reason to hold Jarrar in detention until the end of proceedings, and ruled that she would be freed on NIS 20,000 bail. The military prosecutor, however, has three days to appeal the ruling. According to Addameer, a Palestinian NGO that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons, representatives from the military prosecution have made clear that they either intend to appeal and/or ask to put her back in administrative detention, which would see her indefinitely detained with no indictment, while her present case is resolved in court.

Jarrar, a feminist activist who works on issues of prisoner rights and belongs to the Palestinian parliament on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was accused by the military prosecution of belonging to a “terrorist organization.” Most of the accusations leveled against her touch on her political activism, which includes participation in demonstrations, visits to solidarity tents with Palestinian prisoners and more.

In a hearing last week Jarrar’s attorney, Mahmoud Hassan, pointed out that some of the incidents mentioned in the indictment took place years ago, and claimed that the army has refrained from arresting her until now, despite having a number of opportunities. This, he claimed, shows that the army does not view her actions as dangerous. The military court adopted Hassan’s line of argument in its ruling Thursday.

Palestinian political activists believe that Jarrar’s arrest stems from the fact that she is one of the more vocal opponents of the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination with Israel, as well as her membership in the PA team that is formulating claims against Israel in the International Criminal Court.

Alongside Jarrar are 16 other members of the Palestinian Legislative Council who are currently being held in Israeli prisons. Nine of them, including Hamas member Aziz Dweik, are in administrative detention, which means they are being held indefinitely have neither stood trial nor been sentenced. Elected officials around...

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Jerusalem Police shoot 10-year-old Palestinian boy in the eye

Over the past several months, Jerusalem Police has been stepping up its use of a new weapon: black-tipped sponge bullets. 

Israeli Police wounded a 10-year-old Palestinian child in the eye Thursday afternoon while dispersing protesters near the Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, according to Arabic media outlets in East Jerusalem. The boy, who was most likely hit by a black-tipped sponge bullet, was hospitalized in moderate condition in Hadassah University Hospital. It is unclear what will be the fate of his eye.

Jerusalem Police responded to the incident, stating that “Public works projects take place in the Shuafat refugee camp, including the expansion of an entry/exit lane and a large parking lot for students. Several dozen residents assembled and began to throw stones at Border Policemen, who were guarding the projects. The Border Police used riot-dispersal means. Among the rioters, a boy was evacuated by the Red Cross to the checkpoint after likely being hit by a sponge-tipped bullet. From the checkpoint he was transferred by an ambulance to the hospital.”

The connection between shooting a 10-year-old boy and the details of the public works projects is not entirely clear.

Over the past several months, Jerusalem Police has been stepping up its use of a new weapon: black-tipped sponge bullets. These have already led to the death of one teen, have caused four children to lose their sight, and have led Walla! and Activestills photographer, Tali Mayer, to sustain facial fractures. Just two months ago, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) called on the Attorney General to put an end to the black-tipped sponge bullets.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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IDF shoots Palestinian journalist with rubber bullet in latest assault

Nidal Ashtiyeh says he was standing away from protesters when Israeli troops shot a rubber-coated steel bullet at his eye. Two IDF officers were recently convicted for assaulting Israeli and Palestinian journalists.

Israeli soldiers shot a Palestinian photojournalist in the eye with a rubber-coated steel bullet on Saturday.

Nidal Ashtiyeh, a photographer for Chinese news agency Xinhua, arrived at the Nakba Day protest taking place at the Huwwara checkpoint near Nablus late Saturday morning.

“It was a quiet protest — no rocks, and it was just starting,” Ashtiyeh explained.

There were around 200 protesters, and 20 or so journalists were standing some distance from them, he recalled, adding that all of the journalists had cameras and equipment that made them easily identifiable as journalists.

“The soldiers don’t differentiate between protesters and photographers and they just shot at us,” Ashtiyeh continued. “A foreign journalist was lightly wounded and they shot a rubber bullet that hit my gas mask.”

The glass from the gas mask’s visor shattered and penetrated Ashtiyeh’s eye. He was brought to a hospital in Nablus. He was released later on Sunday. Ashtiyeh says that doctors told him they would only be able to give him a prognosis in a couple of days.

The IDF Spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

This was not the first time Nidal Ashtiyeh has been attacked by Israeli soldiers. A few weeks ago he was struck by a tear gas canister fired at him during another protest in the area.

In August 2013, IDF soldiers attacked Ashtiyeh and stole his cameras, and handed them over to Jewish settlers who proceeded to smash them and take the memory cards. Through a lawyer, he recently received compensation for his damaged equipment, Haaretz reported. The soldiers who attacked him have not been charged.

+972 published exclusive video showing two Israeli army officers kicking, tackling and throwing stones at two photojournalists — an Israeli and a Palestinian — at a protest in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. As a result of the footage published here and on our Hebrew site, Local Call, the two officers were convicted in a brigade-level disciplinary procedure; one of them was sentenced to two weeks in prison.

Last December Israeli soldiers shot a Palestinian photojournalist in the leg with live fire in Kufr Qaddum. A month before that Israeli troops in Kufr Qaddum shot...

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ISIS executes three asylum seekers deported by Israel

Video by extremist Sunni group shows execution of three Eritrean asylum seekers coerced into leaving Israel last year.

At least three Eritrean asylum seekers who lived in Israel and were deported to a third country were executed by Islamic State militants in Libya this past week, according to family and friends who recognized them in a video released by the extremist Sunni group. The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants is checking the possibility that additional Eritreans deported by Israel were also executed.

“I recognized my relative, T., from the photos published by ISIS that appeared on Facebook before the video was released,” says Mesi Fashiya, an Israeli-born Eritrean whose parents came to Israel in the 70s. “I thought it was him, but then ISIS announced that it was a group of Ethiopians, so I began to look into it. The people at the Holot detention center also saw the photos — they hoped it was only photos, and that they didn’t really kill them. After they released the video there was no doubt. I couldn’t watch, but my friends in Holot did and couldn’t sleep all night.”

T. a distant relative of Fashiya, came to Israel through Egypt in 2007. He lived with her for a period of time, and the two became close. According to her, T.’s mental state deteriorated after being sent to Holot, and despite her promises to try and do everything to release him, he eventually decided to sign a voluntary departure form and was deported to a third country — Rwanda or Uganda. T.’s brother, who lives in Norway, told Fashiya that T. attempted to reach Europe. He crossed Sudan and reached Libya, where he got on a boat to Europe that was turned back. The last thing they heard was that he was in a Libyan prison.

Read: Our elected officials boast about deporting genocide survivors

The video shows two groups of hostages being executed by Islamic State militants in Libya. One group is beheaded near a beach, while another is killed by gunmen. According to Fashiya, who works at the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, both she and the prisoners at Holot identified two more asylum seekers in the group that was shot. “They are doing twisted things there, beheading them and then placing the heads on the bodies. It is terrible. It is difficult to believe that these things happen,...

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Settler group tries to shut down bi-national Memorial Day event

The Samaria Settler Council, the same group that recently released a video defaming human rights groups with anti-Semitic imagery, petitions the defense minister to stop Palestinians from participating in, and to pass a law banning an alternative Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony.

An Israeli settler group is trying to shut down the 10th annual joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial day ceremony put on by Combatants for Peace and the Parents Circle Families Forum, which is set to take place this Tuesday.

The Samaria Settler Council asked the Israeli defense minister not to grant entry permits to the Palestinian participants in the ceremony, which takes place on Israel’s national Memorial Day. Speakers in the event include bereaved family members from both sides of the conflict.

The Samaria Settler Council is the same group that produced a video earlier this year that used classic anti-Semitic imagery to suggest that Israeli human rights groups serve Nazi paymasters.

In its letter to the defense minister, the settler group referred to the Palestinians slated to participate in the joint memorial service as “the families of murderers.” The group further called on Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to advance legislation that would ban such events.

In an article with no byline on the website of “Ma’ariv,” which was recently acquired by the Jerusalem Post Group, the majority of which appears to have been copy pasted from a press release, the Palestinian participants are described as the families of “terrorists” and “terror operatives.”

A quick glance at the list of speakers at the joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial ceremony is enough to see that the portrait painted by the Samaria Settler Council is far from accurate. Along with bereaved Israeli families, scheduled to speak are: Mazen Faraj form the Daheish Camp, whose father was shot to death by soldiers while returning from work; and Yasmin Ishtayeh of Saalam village, who was born blind, and whose father was murdered by Israeli settlers.

One might expect such distortions from the Samaria Settler Council, but it is amazing how freely Ma’ariv reprinted the libelous accusations against these Palestinians.

By the time of publication the Defense Ministry had not responded to a request for comment on whether it would grant entry permits to those Palestinians who were scheduled to participate in the ceremony.

Two years ago, a similar request led to the denial of some 200 entry permits. Only after a threatened petition to...

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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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+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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