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Judges aren't cogs in the occupation, they're the oil keeping it going

A new report maps out the two separate legal systems in the occupied territories — one for Jews and one for Arabs. At a launch event for the report, senior jurists showed up and argued it’s not their fault whatsoever. Former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner asked: What can we do? The answer: A lot.

(Translated from Hebrew by Ofer Neiman)

There was something mesmerizing about listening to representatives of the legal establishment speak at a conference held by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) last week. Mesmerizing and terrifying. The hardest thing was hearing Dalia Dorner — one of the most important judges in Israel, a recent candidate for the Israeli presidency, the president of the Israeli Press Council and an icon of sorts among the liberal camp — explaining that the Israeli Supreme Court actually has no influence on the reality of the occupation. In fact, she simply shirked all responsibility for the decisive role played by the judicial system in the establishment and consolidation of the military regime in the occupied territories.

But let’s start from the beginning. The conference, which took place last week at Tel Aviv University’s law school, was dedicated to ACRI’s new report, “One Rule, Two Legal Systems: Israel’s Regime of Laws in the West Bank.” The report systematically maps out what has become one of the main factors behind the reality in the occupied territories: the application of legislation on a national-ethnic basis. Jews reside in the West Bank as Israeli citizens, and Israeli civil law applies to them by virtue of a military order. Palestinians, on the other hand, are subjected to a full military regime, tried by military courts for any offense and denied the right to vote in the institutions that shape their lives.

Click to read the full report

The report provides a detailed account of this structural discrimination, which has become a pillar of the political and legal reality in Israel. The report also explains the significance of said discrimination on the lives of the Palestinian residents of the occupied territories — from the penal code, through planning and construction permits, down to traffic laws. Did you know, for example, that a police officer is authorized to rescind a Palestinian driver’s license or confiscate his or her vehicle upon issuing a traffic citation if they discover he or she has not paid...

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IDF soldiers fire tear gas at West Bank school

Dozens of students suffer from tear gas inhalation; army claims stone-throwing youth fled into the school.

Israeli soldiers fired large quantities of tear gas into the yard of a high school in the Palestinian village of Burin, near Nablus on Monday. According to Rabbis for Human Rights, the incident took place during the morning roll call, and a number of students suffered from tear gas inhalation.

According to Ma’an, soldiers also fired bullets into the air.

An Israeli military spokesperson told Ma’an that stones and empty bottlers were thrown toward settlers’ cars in the area Monday morning, and the youths who threw the stones fled into the school.

It’s worth noting that if it were a Jewish school, it’s highly doubtful that dozens of children would be forced to suffer from tear gas inhalation at school based solely on soldiers’ or police claims that they saw a few youths suspected of some crime entering the premises.

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

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

While you were sleeping: The systematic terrorization of Burin
WATCH: Police fire tear gas on Bedouin children; Israeli media is absent
WATCH: Police spray putrid water on Palestinian homes, schools

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Palestinian minister dies after reportedly struck by Israeli troops

PA settlement minister was reportedly struck by Israeli security forces at a protest agains the illegal settlement outpost of Adei Ad in the northern West Bank. Abbas calls the killing a ‘barbaric act’; Balad MK calls for immediate commission of inquiry.

By Haggai Matar and Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man

Palestinian Authority Settlement Minister Ziad Abu Ein died following clashes with Israeli security forces near the illegal West Bank outpost of Adei Ad Wednesday. The demonstration was against the illegal outpost and corresponded with a petition filed against it in Israeli court and with International Human Rights Day.

Abu Ein was standing face to face with Israeli Border Police and soldiers during a protest against the illegal outpost, according to witnesses on the ground. An Israeli soldier or Border Police officer reportedly struck Abu Ein after which he collapsed on the ground. Israeli troops were using stun grenades and tear gas, although the tear gas was not being shot in the immediate vicinity of Abu Ein at the time he was struck, a witness said.

Video from Sky News Arabia shows appears to show part of the incident, in which an Israeli Border Police officer has his hands around Abu Ein’s neck. A crowd then appears to carry him away.

Israeli army medics attempted to treat Abu Ein before Palestinian medics evacuated him to a hospital in Ramallah, where he was pronounced dead. He was reportedly having difficulty breathing when he was evacuated from the scene.

An autopsy was set to take place to determine cause of death.

“We tried to go and plant olive tree saplings today when the soldiers attacked us,” said Abdallah Abu-Rahme, of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC). “The soldiers pushed Abu Ein; he was injured and fell to the ground. He is an older man who had various health conditions, and he died as a result of the blows he sustained.”

Ziad Abu Ein was a symbol of the PA’s support for popular struggle, said Muhammad Zawara, an activist in the PSCC.

PSCC activists said that a large demonstration would take place surrounding Abu Eid’s funeral.

Four Palestinian villages and Israeli human rights group Yesh Din on Wednesday filed a petition to the High Court of Justice demanding that the army remove the illegal settlement outpost of Adei Ad, in the Shilo area of the West Bank.

The petition, which was filed on International...

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PHOTOS: West Bank village of Bil'in stands with Ferguson protesters

Protesters in the West Bank village of Bil’in carried signs at last Friday’s weekly demonstration with messages of solidarity and support for the ongoing struggle against deadly police violence in the United States.

The signs carried slogans used during protests following the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

Bil’in has seen a number of its residents killed by the Israeli military in protests against the occupation and theft of its land. Bassem Abu Rahme was killed by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops and his cousin, Jawaher Abu Rahme, died from excessive tear gas inhalation.

“We decided to send this message out of solidarity, and because these crimes against humanity need to stop both there and here,” said Hamdi Abu-Rahme, a village resident who helped prepare the signs. “We are all human beings, and we deserve to live in peace.”

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

PHOTOS: Tear gas not the only thing connecting Ferguson and Palestine
Kafr Kanna isn’t Ferguson, it’s much worse
The difference between Israel’s violent, racist cops and America’s

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IDF medic reports modifications to procedures

An IDF medic was surprised to hear two new guidelines given by his superiors, which include shooting attackers as they flee. (Several corrections are amended below.)

D., a combat medic in the ground forces, was surprised to hear in training ahead of deployment in the occupied territories last week that at least two orders typically given to soldiers were ostensibly modified by his commander.

“During the refresher course the instructor, who works as a medic on the base, told us that the orders of the IDF are not to give mouth-to-mouth respiration to people we do not know. When asked about it he said that it basically means that we do not need to give mouth-to-mouth Palestinians,” says D., who took part in the course at the Lakhish base in southern Israel. D. has since then left for duty in the West Bank.

“It sounds strange but he repeated it twice, so I have no doubt that that was what he meant. I was very surprised by the order not to give mouth-to-mouth to anyone who needs it. Since then I have come to understand that Magen David Adom (Israel’s national emergency ambulance service) came up with the order regarding mouth-to-mouth respiration several years ago. The emphasis on the Palestinians was probably the instructor ‘thinking ahead.’ I assume that he goes these trainings all the time. That’s worrying.”

Magen David Adom (MDA) and its American branch, AFMDA, categorically rejected the accusation. “MDA and AFMDA unequivocally reject the inference that MDA would, in any way, prioritize its lifesaving efforts or standards based on people’s backgrounds, including (but no limited to) politics, religion, ethnicity, or gender. MDA does not play games with people’s lives and its practices are based purely on medical standards,” the organization wrote in a response to D.’s allegation.

“MDA has made extensive efforts to provide medical assistance to Palestinians with severe medical conditions, including sending a neo-natal ambulance several times a week to help bring seriously ill babies and older children to Israeli hospitals for treatment, even at times when rockets were being fired and when going to the Erez Crossing to meet the Palestinian ambulance at the border presented risks to MDA paramedics,” the statement added.

Furthermore over the course of the week, D. participated in a refresher on the rules of engagement, where he said he was given permission to kill people who no longer pose a threat....

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WATCH: Settlers assault, throw stones at Palestinian farmers

The villagers of Ash-Shuyukh have been trying to reach their lands for 10 years — each time they are attacked by settlers. When they arrived there on Saturday, Israeli activists had cameras ready.

Settlers attacked a small group of Palestinian farmers from the village of Ash-Shuyukh who came to work their land near the settlements of Pnei Kedem and Metzad on Saturday.

As can be seen in video filmed by an Israeli activist with Ta’ayush, a direct-action solidarity group, the settlers threw stones and physically assaulted the farmers while a group of soldiers stood between the two and attempted to stop the attackers. The soldiers, however, refrained from detaining the settlers.

“Farmers have been prevented from accessing the land for nearly 10 years,” says Danny Kornberg, an activist with Ta’ayush who witnessed the attack. “They say that every time the settlers come, they either attack the farmers or call the soldiers who detain the farmers for hours. The landowners were granted permission by the court regarding these specific lands, which proved that the land indeed belongs to them. This is the first time that we accompanied them to the area — I hope it isn’t the last.”

The video, which is edited, shows soldiers coming down to the valley and asking for identification documents from the farmers. Eventually the settlers arrive and waste no time before they begin throwing rocks at the farmers and physically assaulting the activists who are filming.

All the while, the settlers yell racist epithets at the Palestinians (“you nasty Arab, you have no right to be here) and demand that the soldiers remove them from the vicinity of the settlement. The soldiers attempt to separate the two groups, but refuse the activists’ demand to detain the attackers. When soldiers witness such acts of settler violence, they can summon the police and detain the settlers until police arrive. In practice, however, that rarely happens.

Eventually the soldiers get confirmation over their radios that the farmers are allowed to work their own land, and the settlers leave.

According to one of the activists in the video, and as confirmed by Peace Now reports, the Pnei Kedem outpost partially sits atop privately owned Palestinian land.

More coverage of settler violence:
Settler violence comes with the territory
Israeli inaction enables settler violence against Palestinians
Settler violence: Think of...

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WATCH: Police spray putrid water on Palestinian homes, schools

Two new videos catch a police ‘skunk’ truck spraying East Jerusalem neighborhoods with foul-smelling liquid. The smell was so bad that 4,500 students had to stay home from school.

The “skunk” trucks drives slowly through the neighborhood. It is evening, and there is no evidence of clashes in the area. The truck proceeds slowly, sprays putrid-smelling water on a nearby building, continues on and shoots once again. When it’s all over, the truck has tainted schools, homes, streets – entire neighborhoods – with its unbearable stink. Just like that.

Two videos that were filmed this past week by Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and were given to +972 support claims by residents regarding the inappropriate use of the skunk by the police. In August, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed a complaint to the police regarding multiple cases of the arbitrary use of the skunk, especially at times when there are no protests or clashes. It seems that the police has not changed its ways.

The common understanding among residents and human rights organizations is that the police are collectively punishing Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents, in light of clashes between youth and police in these neighborhoods. But the punishment neither begins nor ends with skunk water; the police block entrances to these neighborhoods with concrete blocks, detains residents for long hours at checkpoints and hands out petty fines – all at the behest of the Jerusalem municipality.

In the A-Tur neighborhood, the police shot skunk water at four large schools, forcing the parents of 4,500 students to leave their children at home due to the unbearable smell. “It was this past Friday, at around 5:30 p.m.,” says Khader Abu Sabitan, a member of the parents’ committee in the neighborhood. “I was on the road and saw them pass with their machine, and saw how they began shooting water at the school. I’m telling you – there was nothing there. It is Friday at 5:30 in the evening, and there was no one in the school or on the streets. Nothing. Everyone was home. They went to all four schools in the neighborhood, shot the water, and left.”

WATCH: The ‘skunk’ sprays foul-smelling liquid on a school in A-Tur

The skunk water targeted the A-Tur elementary school for boys, the elementary and high school for girls, a high school for boys and...

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10 years after Arafat: Where did the Palestinian leadership go?

In both Gaza and Ramallah the Palestinian leadership hasn’t gotten involved in the latest wave of violence. They’re not condemning it, they’re not supporting it, and they’re certainly not offering Palestinians any vision. But Israelis shouldn’t take comfort.

One of the hottest topics in the media recently is the question of whether we can call whatever is happening here lately an intifada. Regardless of whether or not there is an intifada, the source and solution still lie in the hands of the Israeli government, which chooses escalation instead of quiet and ending the occupation. But all that aside, it’s still worth asking: is this an intifada?

The answer for the time being is no, in my opinion. An intifada is a widespread popular uprising, like the First Intifada and like the early days of the second (when mass protests were crushed with overwhelming firepower, after which the terrorist attacks began). Nobody called the bomb attacks of the 90s or the rocket fire from Gaza “intifada.” Same goes for what we’re seeing now — vehicular attacks and stabbings that are the unorganized actions of young individuals, and dozens of stone-throwers in Jerusalem who are not part of a Palestinian societal movement.

Beyond the lack of — mass — public participation, the main difference between these past few weeks and the two intifadas is that there is not anybody or anything that can be considered leadership. Not local and not national. It’s nearly impossible to look at the the wave of violent incidents and to not wonder where the Palestinian leadership is. Both Mahmoud Abbas and and Ismail Haniyeh put out statements about the Aqsa Mosque. Gazan officials expressed support for the vehicle attack that killed baby Chaya Zissel Braun; officials in Ramallah sent a condolence letter to the family of Muataz Hijazi, Yehuda Glick’s would-be assassin, whose killing by police is considered by many Palestinians to have been an assassination.

But that’s it. Haniyeh is busy stopping whoever is shooting rockets at Israel, and arguing with Egypt about the destruction in Egyptian Rafah and the demolition of the tunnels. Abbas is still continuing his security coordination with Israel (which is a code word for oppressing any protest against Israel — or the Palestinian Authority), and promised the Americans that he will maintain quiet at least until the end...

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WATCH: Police kill would-be attacker as he runs away

Police shot and killed 22-year-old Khir Hamdan in the village of Kafr Kanna overnight on Saturday after he attempted to attack them with a knife.

A security camera that captured the shooting show that Hamdan was fleeing from the officers when they shot him, which ostensibly means he posed no threat to the lives of the policemen at that moment.

The video shows Hamda trying to attack a riot police unit (known in Hebrew as “Yassam”) van that arrived in the village with what appears to be a knife. After several seconds, the policemen exit the vehicle and Hamdan backs off and starts running away. While he is fleeing, one of the policemen shoots him. Hamdan died a few hours later.

Hamdan’s family blames the officers for the “cold-blooded murder” of their son, who they claim posed no threat when shot. A demonstration against the killing was set to take place Saturday afternoon. Police told Ynet that Hamdan “tried to stab the policemen during the arrest of a village residents. That is why they shot him. We are continuing to look into the matter.”

The event took place just two days after Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich essentially endorsed the extra-judicial killing of murder suspects, in the wake of last week’s terror attack in Jerusalem. Aharonovich’s statement is an affront to the rule of law, not to mention police procedures, which require police to shoot in order to neutralize a threat, rather than to kill.

One must wonder whether Aharonovich’s statement influenced those policemen who acted Saturday morning in Kafr Kanna, this time within the Green Line.

Update (3:30 p.m.):

Israel Police announces it will open an investigation into Hamdan’s death. In Kafr Kanna, roughly 80 youths clashed with police forces in the run-up to the demonstration. Police were using sponge-tipped bullets and putrid “skunk” water canons to disperse the demonstrators. Inside the town, thousands turned out for a demonstration.

Minister: Demolish homes in response to deadly J’lem attack
WATCH: Footage shows Israeli army’s killing of two Palestinian teens

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Israeli conscientious objector ends hunger strike citing abuse

Prison guards put Udi Segal in isolation and threatened him with trumped up charges, alleges the jailed conscientious objector now serving his fifth term in Israeli military prison.

Israeli conscientious objector Udi Segal stopped his hunger strike over the weekend, citing what he described as abuse by guards in the Israeli army’s “Prison 6.” Segal began his fifth prison term last Thursday when he once again registered his refusal to serve in the Israeli army for reasons of conscience, declaring a hunger strike to protest his continued and repeated imprisonment.

Since the start of his latest prison term Segal has been subject to degrading treatment by guards which led him to end his hunger strike, according to his attorney, Rawan Eghbariah of ‘New Profile.’ According to Eghbariah, Segal was placed in an isolation wing of the prison in a cell with broken windows, was not allowed to have any books — including religious books — with him and was forced to keep his hands on his knees anytime he was sitting.

Additionally, Segal was forced to go into the prison yard at least four times over the weekend, Eghbariah said. During one of those times, she added, he was ordered to carry out physically strenuous activities for 40 minutes at a time, and alternatively to stare at a specific point on the wall for 40 minutes. The prison guards told Segal they would prevent him from meeting with his attorney and, “we can do whatever we want to you and put you on trial because there are no witnesses.” The guards also told Segal that he is harming his family, according to his attorney.

Segal decided to stop his hunger strike on Saturday. He told his attorney, Eghbariah, that he did so because of the abuse he suffered and because “it turned into a power struggle, and I’m not interested in proving my strength or my ‘masculinity,’ in their language — that is the essence of my refusal.”

In a statement published last Thursday, Segal wrote, “I am not willing to participate in the denial of Palestinians’ freedom. I will not contribute to a situation in which four million Palestinians live in territories under a regime they did not elect.”

Segal’s case is not the first report of Israeli military prison guards abusing inmates in the isolation wing of Prison 6. Ultra-Orthodox conscientious objector Uriel Ferera, who at the...

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Rabin memorial makes clear Israel's peace camp stuck in the 90s

Nearly 20 years after Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, the Israeli peace camp is still talking about annexation and separation.

At the opening of Saturday night’s rally marking 19 years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, a video of the slain prime minister’s final speech was aired on giant screens, alongside shots of the protesters from that same night in November 1995. At the end of the segment, the screens showed an aerial view of last night’s actual protest. Were the protest not significantly smaller than the one in 1995, it would have been difficult to tell the two apart.

The opening symbolized the general atmosphere of the rally. The speeches, the crowd, the chants, the messaging – everything looked like it had been frozen in time since that fateful night. It was as if it wasn’t yet clear to the crowd how much damage the Oslo Accords had caused. As if those same people who led these rallies both then and now didn’t go along with the concept that “we have no partner.” As if they didn’t participate in a coalition of death and war or support the disastrous Gaza disengagement. As if we didn’t just participate in a war that ended with 2,300 deaths. As if Jerusalem isn’t burning. None of these issues were even mentioned.

One after the other, the speakers (Shimon Peres, Haim Yalin, Gilead Sher and Yuval Rabin) got up and recycled the same old slogans: peace is made with enemies, being Jewish means searching for peace, we must separate from the Palestinians so as to preserve the Jewish character of the state, negotiations are the only way to peace, etc. Not one bit of introspection regarding the error of their ways. Not a sign that 20 years have changed their minds even in the slightest, or even raised the need to start talking about the details of a proposed peace plan that goes beyond the same statements that even Netanyahu and Liberman know to declare by now.

The only speaker who presented a concrete vision was Gilead Sher, a political ally of Rabin and Barak, who today leads the organization “Blue White Future.” Sher was the only person who spoke about setting a clear border for the country. And which border? The separation barrier. For years Sher has championed the annexation of lands and settlements that are located “by chance”...

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Major Israeli construction company pulls out of settlement industry

Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday morning that Africa Israel Investments, an international holding and investment company based in Israel, will no longer build homes in the West Bank or East Jerusalem. This, after years that Africa Israel’s daughter company, Danya Cebus, has consistently built homes in settlements, contrary to international law.

There is no mistaking this decision. Lev Leviev, one of the most prominent tycoons in Israel, did not wake up one morning and understand, by chance, that the occupation is a terrible injustice toward millions of subjects who lack basic rights and who have been under our military rule for nearly 50 years. No. It took years. Years in which Leviev discovered that he could not continue building in the settlements while enjoying legitimacy in the international business world.

The opposition took the form of protests, pressure on the British government to cut business ties with Leviev, and divestment from his company. Between the profit he could make off the occupation and the profit he could lose in the rest of the world, Leviev chose the world.

This is another huge victory for the boycott movement and the activists who choose to fight against the occupation nonviolently. This is a victory for those who want to tell Israelis that even if the occupation is currently profitable, things can easily change. Africa Israel’s decision won’t stop the settlement enterprise, and its impact will likely be marginal. However, the message continues to permeate.

Figures show: Peace talks and settlement construction go hand in hand
What ‘painful concessions’ are left for Palestinians to make?

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IDF court convicts Palestinian non-violent organizer, EU human rights defender

Israeli military court convicts Abdullah Abu Rahmah of obstructing a bulldozer building the separation barrier. His previous trial and imprisonment was followed closely by western governments.

Abdullah Abu Rahmah, one of the central organizers of the popular resistance protests against the separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bil’in, was convicted of obstructing the work of a soldier by an Israeli military court this week. He will likely be sentenced to four months in prison.

Abu Rahmah, who was recognized by the European Union as a “human rights defender” dedicated to non-violence, previously served over a year in prison for organizing “illegal marches” as well as for “incitement.” All political demonstrations are illegal for Palestinians under Israeli military law.

+972 named Abu Rahmah “person of the year” in 2010. The choice was made, we wrote at the time:

Among other things, Abu Rahmah was arrested in the past for possession of spent tear gas grenades the Israeli army shot at protesters in Bil’in. The indictment, in which he was not convicted, referred to the used grenades as “weaponry.”

This week Abu Rahmah was convicted by a military court of obstructing the work of a soldier. The incident occurred in 2012 when he attempted to stop a bulldozer from clearing the route for the construction of a fence in the Beitunia area of the West Bank. According to AFP, Abu Rahmah’s conviction will include a four-month suspended sentence for an arrest in 2009, in addition to another that the court will decide on in the beginning of December.

Abu Rahmah’s attorney, Gaby Lasky, told AFP that the conviction is part of the army’s continual harassment of non-violent activists. The indictment is politically rather than criminally motivated, she added.

Regarding Abu Rahmah’s previous arrest, it is important to clarify that any and all Palestinian protests in the West Bank are illegal under Israeli military law. Therefore, any march is also deemed illegal. In addition, the crime of “incitement” does not necessarily refer to incitement to violence, but rather to any form of demonstration or protest.

+972 Magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year: Abdullah Abu Rahmah
PHOTOS: What the press missed in Bil’in tear gas flower garden
WATCH: Hundreds commemorate nine years of popular struggle in Bil’in

A version of this article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew 

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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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