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Tariq Abu Khdeir: More officers should face justice for my beating

Israel files assault charges against a police officer filmed beating the 15-year-old American teenager; Tariq and his family demand two other Israeli police officers face justice for their involvement in the beating earlier this summer.

Tariq Abu Khdeir speaks about his beating at a CAIR panel in the U.S. (Screenshot, CAIR)

Tariq Abu Khdeir speaks about his beating at a CAIR panel in the U.S. (Screenshot, CAIR)

The Israeli police officer who was filmed beating unconscious a 15-year-old Palestinian-American boy in Jerusalem in July has been charged with assaulting a minor.

An internal police investigation found evidence “supporting the guilt of the police officer suspected of severe violent crimes,” according to Israel’s Justice Ministry.

The teen, Tariq Abu Khdeir, said at a press conference in Florida yesterday, he thinks two more Israeli officers should be facing charges in his beating.

“I hope everyone, every officer that took part in my beating is taken to justice,” he said.

Khdeir was arrested during East Jerusalem protests following the abduction and brutal murder of his cousin, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, which came after the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.

Tariq Abu Khdeir’s beating was caught on video, which shows the accused officer and additional officers arresting the boy, with one policeman apparently sitting on Khdeir to handcuff the boy while the accused officer is seen kicking and punching the boy repeatedly. A third officer is also seen helping drag Abu Khdeir toward a police vehicle, during which time the accused officer again kicks the boy who appears to be unconscious.

“These criminal charges are long overdue and we are troubled that the other officers involved in the beating have yet to face any form of justice,” Hassan Shibly, the Abu Khdeir family’s attorney in Florida and executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida, said in a statement.

According to the indictment, the other officers “did not attack the boy, nor could [they] have prevented it, and therefore were excluded from the suit,” Ynet reported. The name of the accused officer is under gag order.

Tariq said he was watching the protests, three days after his cousin was killed, and trying to get away from the violence between Israeli police and protestors when he was...

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Israeli court says Palestinian doctors can work, as foreigners

The case of Palestinian doctors from East Jerusalem, who the Israeli Health Ministry and Council for Higher Education have prevented from working, presents Israel with a question: Are Palestinian institutions foreign or domestic?


The Jerusalem District Court this week ordered the Israeli Health Ministry to stop playing politics with the professional futures of 55 Palestinian doctors and to allow them to practice medicine in Israel.

Why were the medical school graduates of Al-Quds University denied the opportunity to work in Israeli hospitals in the first place? The Health Ministry refused to allow them to take medical certification exams because Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) has yet to distinguish Al-Quds School of Medicine as either an accredited Israeli or foreign university, Haaretz reported.

But surely, if Israel does not consider Al-Quds University an Israeli institution of higher learning then it must be a foreign university? Not so in Jerusalem.

When a nation’s borders don’t quite end where most of the world has agreed they do (the pre-1967 borders), as is the case in Israel, determining what institutions are foreign and domestic becomes complicated. The Health Ministry’s justification for denying Al-Quds medical school alumni the opportunity to work in Israeli hospitals is largely a bureaucratic excuse based on a situation that Israel created when it annexed East Jerusalem.

Here’s the ministry’s twisted logic: one of Al-Quds University’s campuses is located within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries but others, where the majority of students attend, are located in the West Bank, including the Al-Quds School of Medicine, which is in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem. The CHE has said it cannot recognize the university as an Israeli institution because it has campuses in the West Bank. However, the CHE also says it cannot designate Al-Quds as a foreign university because one of its campuses is located in East Jerusalem, which Israel claims as sovereign territory.

It’s a case of Israel wanting to have it both ways, unwilling to grant the university, or its individual schools, either domestic or foreign status, which leaves Al-Quds and its students stuck in post-graduate limbo. If Israel did not hold authority over East Jerusalem, the school could easily be designated a foreign university and Palestinian students could take their licensing exams as international students. But it’s never so easy when borders and territory are disputed.

Al-Quds University chose a...

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Same apartheid drama, on a new stage

The Jenin Freedom Theatre wraps its tour of Athol Fugard’s ‘The Island’ in New York City, bringing Palestinian cultural resistance and prisoner experiences to U.S. audiences. 

Jenin Freedom Theatre actors Faisal Abu Alhayjaa (left) and Ahmed Alrakh performing Athol Fugard’s “The Island,” which recently toured the U.S. (Courtesy of Jenin Freedom Theatre)

NEW YORK — You would think the words “Israel,” “Palestine” and “occupation” would have to be spoken during a theatrical production tackling the Palestinian political prisoner experience.

Not so in the Jenin Freedom Theatre’s adaption of South African playwright Athol Fugard’s “The Island,” which just concluded a four-state U.S. tour, the first Freedom Theatre production performed in English to tour abroad.

The reason: the Palestinian experience in Israeli prisons parallels that of black South African prisoners during the apartheid era, said the actors and director during a post-performance Q&A session Friday in New York City, which included American playwright Tony Kushner and Public Theatre artistic director Oskar Eustis.

Most Palestinians have had some experience with an Israeli military prison. Since 1967, approximately 40 percent of the male population of the Occupied Territories has been detained by Israel, according to the Council for European Palestinian Relations.

“Each family, each house has an experience with the prison [in Palestine],” said Freedom Theatre actor Faisal Abu Alhayjaa.

According to B’Tselem, 4,828 Palestinian detainees and prisoners were being held in Israeli prisons, as of July 31. Only 68 percent of them were convicted by a court and serving sentences.

The conviction rate of Palestinians tried in Israeli military courts is nearly 100 percent.

Israel’s Ofer military prison, located in the West Bank and notorious for its harsh conditions, is not too far off from the setting of “The Island,” based on South Africa’s Robben Island, the prison complex where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

With its adaptation, the cast and crew said the Freedom Theatre did not have to change the story much.

It opens with two prisoners, John and Winston, working in a quarry, using imagined tools to dig, carry and move imagined earth. They’re forced to run by the unseen guard, Hodoshe, representing the state that has imprisoned them.

Each night, the men rehearse “Antigone” by Sophocles, drawing parallels between Antigone’s plight and theirs. They argue and...

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‘Palestinians are losing their right to Jerusalem’

+972 speaks with Yudith Oppenheimer, executive director of Israeli NGO Ir Amim, about the possibility of two national capitals in a shared Jerusalem and how the city should or could be divided between Israelis and Palestinians.

Yudith Oppenheimer, executive director of Israeli NGO Ir Amim (Photo: Matt Surrusco/+972)

Sitting in her West Jerusalem office, above the traffic on King George Street, Yudith Oppenheimer, 52, remembers the Jerusalem of her youth, a city physically divided. She recalls taking the bus to school each morning, going up King Solomon Road before turning toward Jaffa Road.

“I remember the bus making the turn around this curve, and the wall. A concrete wall separating the side where I was sitting on the bus and the other side, the other Jerusalem, Jordanian Jerusalem,” she says.

Oppenheimer grew up in Jerusalem in the late 1960s and 70s, after she moved from a kibbutz with her Orthodox family when she was six years old. Today, she is the executive director of the Israeli NGO Ir Amim, an organization whose mission is to “change the Israeli discourse on Jerusalem,” Oppenheimer explains. The goal of Ir Amim, which means “City of Peoples” or “City of Nations” in Hebrew, is to create the conditions for a political compromise for Jerusalem that would allow for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Jerusalem cannot be sustainable without acknowledging, recognizing and facilitating the pluralistic nature of the city,” Oppenheimer said. “The only way to work toward a sustainable city is to work toward this [pluralistic] vision.”

Read +972′s full series: ‘Q&A: The state of human rights in Israel and Palestine’

How have the political realities of Jerusalem changed since Ir Amim was founded in 2004?

In terms of government construction, not so much has changed, but what we are seeing in the past year and a half or so is the realization of long-pending construction plans. The effect of the recent approval of the Givat HaMatos neighborhood, and construction underway of Har Homa C, which expands Har Homa to the east and south, is the sealing off of Jerusalem’s southern perimeter, which will not allow for the necessary contiguity between the Bethlehem area and East Jerusalem, and will not allow East Jerusalem to function as a viable capital for the entire West Bank and Gaza.

Another...

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‘The occupation has no future’

+972 speaks with Shawan Jabarin, general director of Palestinian human rights NGO Al-Haq, about how and why the organization decided to start using the term Apartheid, and what role accountability and international intervention could play in guaranteeing human rights.

Al-Haq director Shawan Jabarin in his office (Courtesy of Al-Haq)

Sitting on a green leather couch in his Ramallah office not far from Al-Manara Square, Shawan Jabarin talks about his hopes and beliefs – primarily, a belief that oppressive regimes have no future.

“I have no hope for the short-term. But I have more than hope for the long-term,” explains Jabarin, the general director of Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights NGO. “There is no future for occupation. I have no doubt of that. For me, it’s a matter of time.”

He says he views his role as fighting to shorten the amount of time until Palestinians can enjoy human rights. “Maybe it will take years. I keep hope that it will happen in my lifetime. I don’t know, to be honest.”

Jabarin, 52, began volunteering with Al-Haq while studying sociology at Birzeit University. He later went on to study law in Ireland. Jabarin joined the organization in 1987 as a field researcher and became its director in 2006.

Read +972′s full series: ‘Q&A: The state of human rights in Israel and Palestine’

Are human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories more or less protected today compared to when you started with Al-Haq in 1987?

I think the indicators show a worsening human rights situation. It doesn’t mean the situation in 1987 was good, but it’s deteriorated since then. There is more land confiscation; freedom of movement is more restricted. There is more destruction of property, like house demolitions. More than ever, the people have lost hope of living in peace with the Israelis. The economic situation has deteriorated. Everything deteriorated. Before, we used to close the roads, not the Israelis. We used to go to Gaza freely. Before we used to look at the Israeli settlements as isolated areas. Today, they’re everywhere.

What human rights issue facing Palestinians concerns you most right now and why?

The most important thing is land because it includes natural resources and [relates to] Palestinians fighting for their self-determination...

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Hundreds protest Bedouin displacement in the Negev

Demonstrations against the Prawer-Begin Plan continue on a second ‘Day of Rage’ with hundreds demonstrating in the Negev, and standing off with police.

Demonstrators protest the Prawer-Begin Plan at Lehavim Junction, along the Tel Aviv-Beer Sheva highway, in the Negev, August 1, 2013. (Photo: Matt Surrusco)

Omar Naammeh stood alone about 50 feet back from the concentration of approximately 700 protestors, mostly youth, on a dusty elevation overlooking Lehavim Junction, along the Tel Aviv-Beer Sheva highway, south of Rahat in the Negev.

“The people here began to recognize they will lose their homeland,” said Naammeh, 60, of Beer Sheva, explaining what he believes has motived a growing number of Bedouin citizens of Israel to demonstrate against the Prawer-Begin Plan. The proposed policy would see tens of thousands of Bedouin living in Negev villages unrecognized by the State of Israel forcibly relocated into planned communities.

Click here for +972′s full coverage of the Prawer Plan

Demonstrators at the August 1 rally, one of a few that took place across Israel and the West Bank, and the second “Day of Rage” demonstration in the last few weeks, included Palestinians, Israelis and internationals, from young children to seniors.

Hundreds of activists protest against the Prawer-Begin Plan in the Negev Desert, August 1, 2013. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

According to a police spokesperson, 400 police officers, some in riot gear, were on hand, including 10 police on horseback, who stood off with demonstrators after some knocked over and pulled aside barricades, pushing forward toward the line of police that blocked protestors from nearing the highway.

One organizer Hind Salman, from Laqia, said activists made the decision not to push forward and attempt to block the road, as had been done at a demonstration two weeks ago in Sakhnin and on August 1 in the northern village of Arara, where at least 20 people were arrested.

Demonstrator Firas Badarna wears a Palestinian flag at an anti-Prawer Plan rally along the Tel Aviv-Beer Sheva highway, in the Negev, August 1, 2013. (Photo: Matt Surrusco)

During the bus ride from Jerusalem, Hassan Towafra, 26, a student at the Hebrew University,...

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Images of Bedouin displacement foreshadow a ‘Nakba in the Negev’

At a ‘Zochrot’ exhibition opening, compelling photography, first exhibited in the ‘unrecognized village’ of al-Araqib in 2012, documents home demolitions and Bedouin demonstrations against the Prawer Plan.

One of the biggest demolitions in al-Araqib village July 27, 2010. From “Baqon” (Photo: Aiob Abo Madegam)

The boy in the photograph is half-smiling because he saved his birds, said photographer Aiob Abo Madegam.

In the image, behind the Palestinian Bedouin boy holding a blue crate containing chickens, at least a dozen Israeli policemen in full riot gear don’t notice Madegam’s camera. Israeli authorities had just demolished the village of al-Araqib in the Negev for the first time, on July 27, 2010, including the animal pens.

This is one of 25 photographs of unrecognized villages in the Negev and their Bedouin residents taken by Madegam from 2010 to 2013, featured in his exhibition, “Baqon” (Remaining), which opened July 28 at Zochrot’s headquarters in Tel Aviv.

The photographs include portraits of demonstrators, villagers and children, some one in the same, intimate scenes of village life and intense moments of confrontation between villagers and the authorities. Madegam’s images provide public recognition to Bedouin communities in the Negev that are unrecognized by the State of Israel, and to the residents’ struggle against forced displacement.

Madegam, 23, said he shot many of the exhibition photographs in al-Araqib on the day the IDF demolished the village for the first of more than 50 times.

Photographer Aiob Abo Madegam at his photo exhibition in Tel Aviv, “Baqon,” July 28, 2013 (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

On Saturday, activists held a demonstration to commemorate the third anniversary of the first demolition of al-Araqib, where homes were most recently demolished on July 16. Protestors marched from Rahat to al-Araqib, where they shared an Iftar meal.

Madegam’s photographs were exhibited previously in Rahat, Ramallah and Beer Sheba, and will be displayed in Kafr Qara and Nazareth in coming weeks. He said he also hopes to show his work at other venues, both in Israel and abroad.

He is determined to tell others inside and outside Israel what is happening in the Negev.

“I am from the Negev and I am one of them. So I wanted to tell this story,” said Madegam,...

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‘The peace process has become a major enemy of human rights’

+972 speaks with Michael Sfard, human rights attorney and legal counsel and co-founder of Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights, about litigating key human rights cases, past and pending, and the ‘mighty price to be paid’ when advocating Palestinian rights from within the Israeli legal system.

Attorney Michael Sfard in his Tel Aviv law office, July 23, 2013. (Photo: Matt Surrusco)

With Palestinians and Israelis expected to restart negotiations in the coming days, most people are talking about the peace talks’ chances of success or failure and the details of what topics are on the table.

Sitting in front of a small legal library in his Bauhaus Tel Aviv law office, Attorney Michael Sfard has something else on his mind. The peace process, he says, has historically had negative consequences on human rights in the occupied territories.

“While talks are happening Israel gets away with anything. Land grabs, the expansion of settlements, even [Operation] Cast Lead was waged while there were peace talks.”

When the world focuses its attention on the peace process, he explains, it is much less attentive to Palestinian victims and the cries of human rights organizations and civil society.

In the past decade or two, “the peace process has become one of the major enemies of human rights,” Sfard continues, and “no peace process will be fruitful if people are suffering on the ground.”

Along with a team of five attorneys, Sfard represents the human rights organization he co-founded in 2005, Yesh Din, along with a host of others NGOs, individuals and groups ranging from Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence and conscientious objector Natan Blanc, to the residents of Palestinian villages like Bi’lin, who fought and won to have the route of the separation barrier moved around, rather than through their village.

Born in Jerusalem, Sfard, 41, studied law at the Hebrew University and University College of London. Since becoming a lawyer in 1999, he has focused on human rights and Palestinian land rights cases, first as a legal intern and for nearly a decade in his own practice.

Read +972′s full series: ‘Q&A: The state of human rights in Israel and Palestine’

Are human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories more or less protected today compared to 2005 when Yesh Din was founded?

In 2005 it was...

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Activists and actors host Hakawati Theater solidarity event in Jaffa

Music, monologues and theatrical performances filled Mahsan 2 in Jaffa, with artists, activists and MKs hoping to raise the public profile of a Palestinian children’s festival cancelled by Israeli authorities last month.

Actors and activists organized a night of performances in Jaffa, in solidarity with el-Hakawati Theater, July 20, 2013. Photo by: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

An Israeli audience filled the 200-seat theater at Mahsan 2 at Jaffa Port yesterday, with dozens of attendees standing in the side and rear wings of the theater, for a night of entertainment in solidarity with the Palestinian National Theater el-Hakawati and its executive director Mohammad Halayka.

The protest event was organized by a group of five Israeli and Palestinian activists and actors. Mahsan 2 donated the venue space for the evening and sound, lighting and stage technicians volunteered their time for the event.

Approximately 30 performers and speakers, including famous Israeli and Palestinian musicians, actors, activists and Knesset members got on stage to mobilize support for el-Hakawati and express their solidarity and belief that cancelling the theater’s annual children’s puppet festival was wrong. ASSITEJ – The International Association of Theater for Children and Young People – also sent a message of support.

Last month, the Israeli Public Security Ministry ordered el-Hakawati’s weeklong children’s festival at the East Jerusalem theater closed, alleging the organizers took funding from the Palestinian Authority in violation of the Oslo Accords. Halayka said the festival did not receive funding from the PA.

“We worked hard to do something good for children,” Halayka said, speaking in English to the Israeli audience. The idea was to offer Palestinian children, who have few opportunities to experience culture and entertainment in East Jerusalem, one week of the year, between the school year ending and the start of Ramadan, to have some fun.

But Halayka said the cancellation of the children’s festival was just another example of the marginalization Palestinians living in East Jerusalem face.

They pay Jerusalem municipality taxes, but the 370,000 Palestinian residents don’t enjoy the benefits of taxes paid, culturally or in services, Halayka said. 85 percent of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem live in poverty.

“This issue really touched a sensitive chord,” said Anat Matar, one of the event organizers. “It touches something much bigger than el-Hakawati.”

Still, Matar said because the cancellation of the...

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‘Settlements ignite a chain reaction of human rights violations’

+972 speaks with Jessica Montell, of B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, about the settlements and occupation staring the Israeli public in the face, and communicating the human rights message effectively, at home and abroad.

Jessica Montell, executive director of B’Tselem (Photo: Oren Ziv)

From her fourth floor office window in Jerusalem, Jessica Montell can see the red-tiled roofs of Israeli homes inside the settlement of Gilo, east of the Green Line, in annexed East Jerusalem. She can also see Givat HaMatos, another West Bank community, where Israel is planning a new settlement.

“It’s not an ivory tower,” she says of her office and the view it offers of the West Bank.

Montell, 45, has been the executive director of B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories for more than a decade. Originally from California, living in Jerusalem, Montell says B’Tselem plans to continue the public conversation about the IDF’s recent detention of a 5-year-old Palestinian boy in Hebron, which caused a stir in Israeli media after B’Tselem caught the incident on video.

Read +972′s full series: ‘Q&A: The state of human rights in Israel and Palestine’

Are human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) more or less protected today compared to 2001 when you became B’Tselem’s executive director?

In terms of the headline-catching issues, the situation is definitely better today. In 2001, you had very severe restrictions, people living under curfew and high numbers of people killed and injured. You don’t have that today. At the same time the entrenched issues of occupation, settlements and control of natural resources, those are continuing and are even becoming further entrenched.

What human rights violations in the OPT are least reported on, by NGOs and the media? Why do you think those issues get less attention?

Issues that are not readily captured by video or photo are often underemphasized. The whole issue of military courts: hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been detained, interrogated, tried in military courts, with extremely high rates of conviction. That’s something that is not accessible to most Israelis and very little attention is paid to it.

What human rights issues concern you most right now and why?

The main issue is settlements because they give rise to...

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‘When I look at the Prawer Plan, I see another Nakba’

+972 speaks with Suhad Bishara, of Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, about the challenges of fighting for Palestinian rights in Israel and deciding when not to take legal action in Israeli courts – if doing so would undermine the Palestinian narrative.

Adalah acting executive director Suhad Bishara (Photo: Courtesy of Adalah)

When looking at Israel’s Prawer-Begin Plan to evict tens of thousands of Bedouin in order to free land for Jewish development, attorney Suhad Bishara sees a second Nakba coming.

Bishara, 42, is Adalah’s acting executive director and the organization’s director of land and planning rights. Originally from Tarshiha, a village in the northern Galilee near the Lebanese border, Bishara has lived in Haifa since she graduated with a bachelors of law from Hebrew University, and has worked with Adalah since receiving a masters of law from New York University in 2001.

These days, she and Adalah are focusing their efforts on stopping the Prawer-Begin Plan. Sitting down with +972 in her Haifa office last week, Bishara discussed the intricacies of running a Palestinian human rights organization in Israel, and how in each case she must weigh how taking it to court might inadvertently undermine Palestinian rights.

Read +972′s full series: ‘Q&A: The state of human rights in Israel and Palestine’

Are the land and planning rights of Arabs in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories more or less protected today compared to 2001 when you joined Adalah?

Generally speaking, they’re less protected. On one level, the Supreme Court has set precedents that disallow land restitution for Palestinian citizens of Israel whose lands were confiscated in the 1950s and 1960s, and were not used for the public purposes of the confiscation. There are also laws that restrict the right of restitution, restrict planning and development rights of Arab communities and procedures that limit the accessibility of land distributed by the state to its Palestinian citizens. Also, there’s master planning, which restricts the development of Palestinian towns and villages on a large-scale, and the massive attempts to displace tens of thousands of Palestinians in the northern Naqab (Negev).

(Click here for +972′s full coverage of the Prawer-Begin Plan)

In regards to land rights, what case concerns you most right now?

It’s basically the Prawer-Begin bill, which...

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WATCH: IDF arrests Palestinian brothers, Israeli activists while grazing herds

IDF arrests two Palestinian shepherds, four Israeli activists in Um al-Kheir, after declaring the site a closed military zone.

In the same West Bank village where the IDF recently demolished an outdoor toilet built for a disabled person, the army arrested four Israeli activists and two Palestinian residents Saturday in the south Hebron hills, for “entering a closed military zone.”

The younger of two brothers from Um al-Kheir was grazing his herd of sheep and goats near the village, east of Yatta, accompanied by Israeli activists from Ta’ayush before the six men were arrested around 12 p.m. on Saturday, according to activist Amitai Ben-Abba, one of the four arrested from Ta’ayush. They were all later released on restrictive conditions and one on bail.

“[The Palestinian herder] went way around this contested extension of the settlement Carmel because there has been lots of harassment recently from Israeli military and settlers,” said Ben-Abba. “When he came back [from grazing the herd] two soldiers came and grabbed him.”

In an emailed statement, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said IDF forces declared an area near Carmel a closed military zone in order to diffuse “an illegal gathering of 35 people.”

Ben-Abba said the location where the activists and herders were arrested was not within the closed military zone.

One Palestinian man, the older of the two brothers, was arrested for allegedly “attacking an IDF soldier and trying to climb an IDF military vehicle,” according to the IDF.

Related:
In South Hebron, ‘new rules’ are rather like the ‘old rules’ 
WATCH: IDF does not want you to see what occupation looks like
WATCH: IDF declares Palestinian grazing lands closed military zone 




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Applying runners' wisdom to the fight for human rights

+972 speaks with Gisha’s executive director Sari Bashi about changing the Israeli policy of restricting Palestinian freedom of movement, one legal victory at a time, and transforming Israeli public perceptions of Palestinians in Gaza.

Sari Bashi, executive director of Gisha (photo: Matt Surrusco, +972 Magazine)

Behind her desk in her Tel Aviv office, Sari Bashi has two things hanging on her wall. On the left is a small, framed memento from her staff that includes a photo of her running, a map outlining the ultra-marathon she completed last year, setting a record for running the longest distance – 215 kilometers (134 miles) – of any Israeli woman, and a breakdown of her run times. On the right is a large map of the Gaza Strip that pinpoints border crossings between the Gaza Strip, Egypt and Israel.

There’s a strong connection between her work and her running, the absolute love for freedom of movement, Bashi explains.

As the founder and executive director of Gisha, Bashi, 37, has worked to promote freedom of movement for Palestinians, especially those living in Gaza, since 2005.

Like running, she says, you must have patience, humility and determination to do human rights work.

Read +972′s full series: ‘Q&A: The state of human rights in Israel and Palestine’

How does a woman from New Jersey end up founding an Israeli NGO with a mission to help Palestinians?

I grew up back and forth between Israel and the U.S. I came here after university and started working as a journalist. As a reporter, I saw human rights violations that I wanted an opportunity not just to report on, but also to take a stand on as an advocate. So I studied law in the States and then I came back here and clerked at the [Israeli] Supreme Court.

It gave me an opportunity to see how the Israeli legal system addresses claims by Palestinians, which was a really good background for founding Gisha. We started as an organization that provides legal assistance on freedom of movement to Palestinians from Gaza, but because I knew from the court how limited the legal system could be we also developed public advocacy tools, which we use in combination with legal advocacy.

What are some of the specific challenges of promoting human rights for...

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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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