+972 Magazine » News http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Wed, 17 Sep 2014 17:18:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 In Gaza, justice delayed is justice denied http://972mag.com/in-gaza-justice-delayed-is-justice-denied/96786/ http://972mag.com/in-gaza-justice-delayed-is-justice-denied/96786/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 10:18:31 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96786 Israeli army investigators have not even contacted the teenage victim of one of the few alleged war crimes it says it is probing. More than two months after Israel’s assault on Gaza began, victims of the air, land, and sea invasion continue to have no recourse against their occupiers.

It’s been nearly two months since 17-year-old Ahmad Abu Raida says he was used as a human shield by Israeli forces near the Gaza border town of Khan Younis. Since then, human rights organizations and various media outlets have reported on the case (+972 was among the first), but Abu Raida has yet to face his alleged captors — and, so far, his family sees no hope for justice.

Although Israeli army’s office of the Military Advocate General said it has opened an investigation into the case, Abu Raida’s father said on Monday that neither he nor his son had been contacted by the military. That comes as no surprise to Brad Parker, an attorney with Defence for Children International’s Palestine section, which first documented Abu Raida’s story.

Ahmad Abu Raida (Photo courtesy of DCI-Palestine)

Ahmad Abu Raida (Photo courtesy of DCI-Palestine)

“Impunity is the norm, as investigations are neither transparent nor independent and rarely result in an Israeli soldier being held criminally responsible or accountable,” Parker told +972. “How serious can any investigation be where, as of today, no Israeli investigator has even contacted Ahmad or his family to gather information concerning his use as a human shield?”

Abu Raida’s case is one of only a handful still being “investigated” by the MAG’s office. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said last week that Israel had committed war crimes during its 51-day assault on Gaza this summer. Others, including participants in the upcoming Russell Tribunal on Palestine, are asking whether Israel’s actions constituted “genocide.”

The tribunal, slated for September 24-25 in Geneva, will include law professors John Dugard and Richard Falk, both of whom have served as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Palestine. In a press release announcing the two-day “extraordinary” session, the organizers said: “[t]he Tribunal will examine Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, and, for the first time regarding Israel, the crime of genocide.”

Read +972′s full coverage of the Gaza war

The United Nations defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

“In a context where systemic impunity is the status quo, initiatives like the Russell Tribunal on Palestine are needed to push for and deliver justice and accountability,” said Parker. He also cited the International Criminal Court, but attempts to bring claims against Israel there have been hobbled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has yet to sign the Rome Statute defining the court’s purview.

For Palestinians with claims against Israel, the lack of recourse under international law only encourages the state’s impunity. Using language from the ICC itself, leading Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem announced on September 8 that it would no longer cooperate with the MAG because Israel is “unable and unwilling” to investigate itself.

B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad called the MAG inquiry into Abu Raida’s case a “whitewash,” adding, “the announcement demonstrates one of the current system’s main shortcomings — its adamant refusal to investigate senior officials and examine, honestly, wide-ranging policy issues pertaining to Israel’s use of military force.”

Meanwhile, the Abu Raida family, like tens of thousands of others whose homes were damaged or destroyed during Israel’s air, land and sea bombardment, continues to piece together what remains of their lives. In that sense, they are among the fortunate in Gaza, where more than 2,100 people, including 501 children, were killed. How that happened — and who will be held responsible — remain pressing questions for Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians.

Related:
Short-term memory loss champions of the world: Gaza? What Gaza?
Leading Israeli human rights group stops cooperating with IDF Gaza probes
PHOTOS: Living in the ruins of a shattered Gaza neighborhood

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Resource: How the Shin Bet holds Gazans’ health ransom http://972mag.com/resource-how-the-shin-bet-holds-gazans-health-ransom/96794/ http://972mag.com/resource-how-the-shin-bet-holds-gazans-health-ransom/96794/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 18:10:32 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96794 A 2008 report by Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, detailing for the first time the methods Israel’s domestic security services use to exploit the medical needs of Gaza Strip residents in order to extort them into becoming collaborators for Israel.

In September 2014, dozens of Israeli army intelligence reservists publicly spoke out about the way that they were trained and ordered to conduct surveillance on innocent Palestinians to find ways of extorting them into becoming informants. Such information included innocent Palestinians’ sexual orientation, which the Shin Bet could threaten to expose, or health problems — their own or of a family member.

The practice of leveraging Gazans’ access to health care in order to get intelligence information out of them has been documented in the past. Six years earlier, in 2008, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I) put out a detailed report on the practice, including testimonies from Palestinians whom the Shin Bet demanded information from in exchange for permission to enter Israel to receive needed medical care.

Following the Unit 8200 reservists’ letter, PHR-I responded that soldiers’ testimonies corroborate the testimonies it collected from Gazan patients six years earlier, calling it “direct extortion.” The organization added, “we are encouraged by the fact that these acts also bother those serving in the security forces and we hope that this will bring about a discussion of the matter and an end to this practice.”

+972 is republishing the report here in order to explain in greater detail exactly what the reserve intelligence officers are describing:

More on the 8200 revelations:
Against spy revelations, Israel doth protest too much
IDF’s ‘start-up nation’ reservists refuse to serve the occupation
Refusal by elite IDF reservists angrily dismissed as ‘political’

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that strives to promote a more fair and inclusive society in which the right to health is applied equally for all. It is PHR-Israel’s view that Israel’s prolonged occupation over Palestinian territory is the basis of human rights violations. For this reason it opposes the occupation and endeavor to put an end to it.

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PHOTOS: Working class neighborhood takes to TA streets ahead of evictions http://972mag.com/photos-working-class-neighborhood-takes-to-ta-streets-ahead-of-evictions/96743/ http://972mag.com/photos-working-class-neighborhood-takes-to-ta-streets-ahead-of-evictions/96743/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:25:07 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96743 On the eve of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, 20 families are expected to be evicted from their homes in the Givat Amal neighborhood without just compensation. Neighborhood residents and supporters took to the streets in north Tel Aviv and blocked main roads to protest the imminent eviction.

Photos and text: Keren Manor/Activestills

Residents and supporters of the embattled north Tel Aviv neighborhood of Givat Amal gathered on Monday to demonstration against the feared impending eviction of 20 families. The families, whose homes sit on land purchased by Israeli tycoon Yitzhak Tshuva, are in danger of immediate eviction next Wednesday, without just compensation, and may find themselves on the streets on the eve of the Jewish New Year. Tshuva plans to build luxury apartment towers where the homes stand today.

At a Tel Aviv City Council meeting held on September 14, a majority voted to order the municipality to contact police and ask them to postpone evictions until after the holidays. In addition, the city council decided to follow up on mediation efforts by the municipality between residents and landowners.

About 200 residents and supporters gathered in the neighborhood’s protest tent before starting their march. MKs Dov Khenin and Ayelet Shaked who took part in the demonstration put out a joint statement, saying:

“We urge entrepreneurs and police to stop the evictions and to act in accordance with the requests of the Knesset and the municipality. Hold fair negotiations with the residents about compensation and not to throw people out of their homes.”

The protest tent in the neigborhood. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

The protest tent in the neighborhood. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

The demonstrators descended from the neighborhood toward one of Tel Aviv’s busiest intersections, blocking the road and chanting against the planned evictions. Residents of the Kfar Shalem Summayel neighborhoods, which are facing similar eviction orders, came to express their solidarity and support in the fight.

Demonstrators blocking the road in the entrance to the neigborhood. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Demonstrators blocking the road at the entrance to the neighborhood. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Blocking Namir road. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Blocking Namir Road. The sign in the center reads: ‘Eviction without compensation – over my dead body’ (Keren Manor/Activestills)

(Keren Manor/Activestills)

(Keren Manor/Activestills)

(Keren Manor/Activestills)

‘Without compensation, blood will be spilled,’ the sign reads. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

During the march, neighborhood resident Osnat Hamias collapsed and was evacuated by ambulance for treatment. Hamias and her family of nine, including three young children, are expected to be evacuated this week. They have lived with packed boxes and in constant fear of eviction for the past three months.

Osnat Hamias is being treated in the ambulance. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Osnat Hamias is being treated in the ambulance. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

The demonstrators marched to the city’s Arlozorov homeless encampment and then continued to the nearby Bavli neighborhood and the prestigious ”Bavli Park” project constructed by Yitzhak Tshuva, adjacent to Givat Amal in the north of the city.

Demonstrators pass in Babli neigborhood. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Demonstrators pass through the Bavli neighborhood. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Demonstrators shout slogans in Babli neigborhood. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Demonstrators shout slogans in Bavli neighborhood. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Demonstrators pass next to the "Babli Park" construction site. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Demonstrators pass next to the “Bavli Park” construction site. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

As part of the neighborhood evacuation plan for the construction of luxury towers, about 130 families who were settled in the neighborhood in the 1950s by the young state, are expected to lose their homes.

Demonstrator holds sign with photos of Givat Amal founders. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Demonstrator holds sign with photos of Givat Amal founders. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

(Keren Manor/Activestills)

(Keren Manor/Activestills)

Related:
PHOTOS: Police evacuate families from working-class Tel Aviv neighborhood

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PHOTOS: Anti-Zionists join rally against anti-Semitism in Berlin http://972mag.com/photos-anti-zionists-join-rally-against-anti-semitism-in-berlin/96716/ http://972mag.com/photos-anti-zionists-join-rally-against-anti-semitism-in-berlin/96716/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:16:26 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96716 Our joint Jewish-Palestinian-German protest confused participants at the rally against anti-Semitism, and definitely confused the German police. We wanted to chip away at the automatic linkage between Jews and the State of Israel.

Text by Inna Michaeli
Photos by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Demonstration against anti-Semitism and all racism in Berlin, September 14, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Demonstration against anti-Semitism and all racism in Berlin, September 14, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

BERLIN — By the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Sunday, some 3,000 people rallied against anti-Semitism, at the initiative of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. As promised, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech. Many in the crowd were touched by her declaration of historical responsibility for the crimes of the past, and for ensuring that Jews are welcome in Germany.

We also came to the march — around 100 activists, a lot of Jews, Germans, Palestinians and others, and no small number of Israelis. We demonstrated with banners reading: “No to attacks on synagogues and mosques in Berlin and in Gaza”, “anti-Semitism ≠ anti-Zionism”, and some of the Israelis in the crowd carried a sign reading, “Merkel, give us German passports, not weapons.”

Israelis demand Merkel for German passports, September 14, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israelis demand Merkel for German passports, September 14, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the demonstration against anti-Semitism, September 14, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the demonstration against anti-Semitism, September 14, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The goal of the non-Zionist bloc was to show that we exist as Jews and others, who oppose anti-Semitism and all racism, and who reject the automatic linkage between Jews and the State of Israel. Indeed, it was evident that the bloc’s presence sparked many discussions — not only between us and the other marchers, but also among the other groups. Along with hostile reactions, demands that we leave and those doubting the Jewishness of the Jews among us, many of us had open and positive discussions.

The police were pretty confused. They came and listened to our slogans through their walkie talkies and tried to understand whether we were for or against. The police officers stressed that they were in no way asking us to leave but when some of us made it to the middle of the march, the officers asked us to move to the sides. There were some participants who insisted on our right to be in the middle of it all, and that the rally was ours too.

Anti-Zionist Jews in Berlin, September 14, 2014. The sign reads: “Jews against Zionism and anti-Semitism”. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Anti-Zionist Jews in Berlin, September 14, 2014. The sign reads: “Jews against Zionism and anti-Semitism”. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Demonstration against anti-Semitism and all racism in Berlin, September 14, 2014. The sign reads: “Warning! Anti-Semitism, racism and Islamophobia are dangerous to the public!” (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Demonstration against anti-Semitism and all racism in Berlin, September 14, 2014. The sign reads: “Warning! Anti-Semitism, racism and Islamophobia are dangerous to the public!” (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

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

Related:
Anti-Semitism has no place in Palestine advocacy
Fight occupation, anti-Semitism, Islamic State at the same time
A distorted portrait of Palestinian ‘anti-Semitism’
At the exiled Iranian Parliament in Berlin

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How do you stop Palestinians unionizing? Cancel their entry permits http://972mag.com/how-do-you-stop-palestinians-unionizing-cancel-their-entry-permits/96713/ http://972mag.com/how-do-you-stop-palestinians-unionizing-cancel-their-entry-permits/96713/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:04:13 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96713 An Israeli employer of Palestinians inside a West Bank settlement, with the help of Israeli authorities, is exploiting the military permit regime in order stop his workers from unionizing, a High Court petition alleges.

Employees at the Zarfati Garage in Mishur Adumim vote to strike on July 22, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Ma’an workers union)

Employees at the Zarfati Garage in Mishur Adumim vote to strike on July 22, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Ma’an workers union)

In order to sabotage the unionization of Palestinian workers, the owner of an Israeli car garage filed a false police complaint against one of the union organizers, a High Court petition filed Monday by the Ma’an Workers Advice Center alleges.

Hatem Abu Ziadeh, the leader of the Palestinian workers at Zarfaty Garage, located in the West Bank Mishor Adumim industrial park, had his permit to enter his workplace revoked by the Israel Police and Civil Administration after his employer filed a complaint alleging that he was intimidating other employees, the petition states.

The High Court petition seeks an injunction ordering the Israeli army to reinstate Abu Ziadeh’s permit to enter the Israeli-controlled industrial zone. According to a 2007 High Court decision, the protections of Israeli labor law apply to Israeli businesses operating in the West Bank and their Palestinian employees.

In Depth: A journey into the dark heart of Israel’s permit regime

“This petition is about the improper use of the West Bank permit regime in order to harm the Zarfaty Garage’s employees’ [ability] to organize,” Ma’an wrote in a statement.

Abu Ziadeh has worked at the Zarfaty Garage for 17 years. Ma’an alleges that the police complaint and subsequent revocation of Abu Ziadeh’s permit was an attempt to circumvent labor laws that forbid the dismissal of union leaders in order to stop workers from organizing.

“It is entirely clear that the complaint, on the basis of which the Zarfaty Garage workers’ leader’s permit was revoked, was a false complaint [made] by an interested party, who changed his version of events three times in one week,” a statement by Ma’an said.

The following video report was produced by Israel Social TV earlier this summer, after Zarfaty’s Palestinian employees launched a labor strike.

Related:
The cynical use of Palestinian workers in the SodaStream controversy
Spotlight: The Paris Protocol and the Palestinian economy
WATCH: Palestinians workers attempt to unionize

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Refusal by elite IDF reservists angrily dismissed as ‘political’ http://972mag.com/refusal-by-elite-idf-reservists-angrily-dismissed-as-political/96687/ http://972mag.com/refusal-by-elite-idf-reservists-angrily-dismissed-as-political/96687/#comments Sun, 14 Sep 2014 18:25:50 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96687 Following the public refusal of 43 reservists of the IDF’s 8200 intelligence unit, politicians and other veterans of the unit have openly denounced the reservists, viewing their refusal as an unacceptable politicization of their army service.

Political leaders both from the government and the opposition condemned 43 reservists from Israel’s prestigious 8200 intelligence unit who stated their refusal to take part in intelligence-gathering activities that, they claim, deepen Israel’s military rule over Palestinians. Unlike the issue of refusal during Protective Edge, which was hardly noticed or covered during the war, the 8200 letter grabbed headlines over the weekend, appeared on most major news Internet sites, and was one of the lead stories in television news.

Prime Minister Netanyahu encouraged the unit to continue its important work for the security of Israeli citizens. Haaretz reports that Defense Minister Moshe (Boogie) Ya’alon called the letter “an attempt to harm the unit and its activities.” He said the move was a deplorable attempt to assist the “campaign of delegitimization” against Israel and the IDF.

Yariv Levin, the Likud chairman of the governing coalition, repeated a common accusation from the Right equating opposition to the occupation with support for terrorism. In a comment likely to elicit guffaws from Palestinians living under Israeli military rule, Levin, a veteran of unit 8200, told Maariv, “One who refuses to assist in guarding his country crosses the border between those who support Israeli democracy and the freedom it represents, to the terror-supporting Palestinian side, and attacks the innocent citizens of Israel.”

Israeli army soldiers take part in the search operation for three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, on June 17, 2014 in the West Bank town of Hebron. [File photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli army soldiers take part in the search operation for three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, on June 17, 2014 in the West Bank town of Hebron. [File photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

However, the members of the opposition and people associated with the mainstream Left also clamored to decry the reservists’ refusal.

Both the current leader of the opposition Yitzhak (Bougie) Herzog, also a 8200 veteran, and the former head of the Labor Party Shelly Yachimovich condemned the letter at length.

Herzog stated that he opposes refusal, and said that the citizens of Israel would pay a price for such calls. But Yachimovich went further, lashing out first of all at the signatories themselves. On her Facebook page she essentially argued that they were arrogant for writing as if they are superior in Israeli society based on the prestige of the unit. Noting that they gain invaluable skills and enjoy shining career possibilities, they ought to be grateful rather than critical, she wrote.

Yachimovich did not seem to consider that the reservists might have felt a responsibility precisely because they are privileged, to consider those less fortunate; or that they may resent building their promising careers on what they view as the destruction of another society.

The reactions from Labor highlight a growing chasm between those who consider themselves left wing on social issues and because they support a two-state solution, and those whose “leftism” is expressed by urgency and action.

Thus friends who often take critical liberal and left-wing perspectives, wrote emotional posts on social media explaining their disapproval. Often the main accusation was that this refusal is “political.” Indeed, the response of both the IDF spokesperson and that of fellow reservists in 8200 who are opposed to refusal, quoted in Walla, was that that refusing duty is an unacceptable politicization of their army service. The Unit 8200 reservists against refusal stated:

Political refusal has no place in the army and in our unit specifically. From the moment we reserve soldiers are called to the flag, we put aside our political opinions and orientations and we come to serve the state.

***

Notwithstanding the real concern of mutiny or anarchy should an army act independently of political will, there is something quixotic about dismissing an act of refusal because it is political.

That’s what an act of refusal is, unless it is purely personal or religious. Refusal in this case is a statement of something that is already abundantly clear: The IDF’s role in this conflict is deeply political. Israelis are drafted into service as soldier-citizens, it is impossible to extricate politics from service, or draw a phantom boundary between them.

The soldiers sought no personal gain, no political points. If they were a party, they would have lost all their votes (this is probably what terrifies Labor and accounts for the over-protestations). If their identities become known, since little is truly secret in Israel, the glamorous economic, high-tech and – as seen clearly through this incident – high-flying political paths open to them might easily be closed.

Essentially, they stood only to lose from withdrawing from a system they believe is destroying both sides.

The exhortations to keep politics to the realm of demonstrations and public discourse smack of insincerity. For those who truly, genuinely want to end the 47-year military rule over millions of Palestinians, one thing is clear: Nothing so far has worked. In that context, demanding that activists limit their activities to those with no impact is merely embracing the occupation itself.

*Correction Appended: A quote has been removed because it was mistakenly cited from a personal Facebook page in which the setting was private.

Related:
IDF’s ‘start-up nation’ reservists refuse to serve the occupation
How can you tell that Israeli refuseniks are are scaring the system?
Israeli teens tell Netanyahu: We will not take part in occupation

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‘Autopsy contradicts police, shows Palestinian teen was shot in head’ http://972mag.com/autopsy-contradicts-police-shows-palestinian-teen-was-shot-in-head/96634/ http://972mag.com/autopsy-contradicts-police-shows-palestinian-teen-was-shot-in-head/96634/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 16:31:54 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96634 Police originally said they had shot the teenager in the leg with a sponge-tipped bullet. Sixteen-year-old Mohammed Sunuqrut is the first Palestinian to die from the ‘less-lethal’ crowd control munition.

Muhammad Sunuqrut's body is prepared for the funeral procession, East Jerusalem, September 8, 2014. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Muhammad Sunuqrut’s body is prepared for the funeral procession, East Jerusalem, September 8, 2014. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Sixteen-year-old Palestinian boy Mohammed Sunuqrut was shot in the head and not in the leg, as police claimed, leaked preliminary results of his autopsy showed. Israeli police shot Sunuqrut with a sponge-tipped bullet near a protest in East Jerusalem on August 31 and he died of his wounds a week later. The official autopsy report has not yet been published but both Israeli and Palestinian sources involved confirm that Sunuqrut died from a projectile wound to his head. The police claim — that they shot him in the leg as he threw stones and that when he turned to run, fell and cracked his skull — appears to be untrue.

Sunuqrut’s uncle Adel told +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call, that Mohammed was not protesting that day and claimed he had never taken part in any rioting or stone throwing. The teenager had been sent out to buy some bread, the uncle said, but 10 minutes after he left people came running to the home to say Mohammed was shot. Adel says that when he tried to reach his wounded nephew, Israeli policemen were surrounding the boy and wouldn’t let him through. He claims they threatened to shoot him if he didn’t back away, and continued to surround the boy for 10 to 15 minutes before allowing him to be evacuated to hospital.

Learn more about Israel’s use of crowd control weapons

What is even more disconcerting is that someone at the scene who identified himself as Ahmed made an emergency call to the Israeli emergency services dispatch describing Muhammed’s dire situation. He can be heard in the recording saying, “he was shot in the head, he’s unconscious,” Haaretz reported. Even if at that time police were convinced that Mohammed’s head injuries were caused by the fall, that does not explain why they delayed his evacuation to the hospital by so many crucial minutes. The bullet that hit Mohammed was also mysteriously missing from the scene.

Mohammed’s killing, which rekindled riots and clashes in East Jerusalem that have been taking place on and off all summer long since the murder of another teenage Palestinian resident of the area, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, marks the first known time a Palestinian has been killed by a sponge-tipped bullet. Because sponge-tipped bullets have never killed anyone in Israel or Palestine, the family originally claimed that Mohammed was shot by a rubber-coated steel bullet. Since October 2000, police have not been allowed to use rubber-coated bullets inside Israel (which includes annexed and occupied East Jerusalem where most Palestinians have residency status, not citizenship), but they continue to use the deadlier weapon against protesters in the West Bank. Apparently it is (more) OK to risk killing Palestinians — just not Israeli citizens or residents.

According to the Haaretz report, Israeli police recently introduced a new kind of sponge-tipped bullet that is heavier, larger and black in color instead of blue. They have reportedly been using it this summer in response to Palestinian protests and riots in East Jerusalem. Police claim they need them because the blue sponge-tipped bullets are not effective enough, according to the report.

Dr. Rafik Husseini, director of Al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, holds a new crowd-control projectile the Israeli army is using in the occupied territories. (Photo by Yael Marom)

Dr. Rafik Husseini, director of Al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, holds a new crowd-control projectile the Israeli army is using in the occupied territories. (Photo by Yael Marom)

But this new type of bullet, like the older one, may only be shot at the lower half of a person’s body; the projectile can indeed be fatal if shot at the torso or head, which is apparently what has just been demonstrated. Shooting above the waist is absolutely forbidden and those officers authorized to shoot the weapon at protesters undergo comprehensive training with it. So in addition to the police’s seemingly fallacious statement, it is unclear why Mohammed was shot in the head.

According to the report in Local Call, at least four other cases have been recorded this summer in which such projectiles were fired at the upper bodies of protesters and journalists. In July, Activestills and Walla! News photographer Tali Mayer was shot in the face and Activestills photographer Oren Ziv was hit in the arm.

This is far from the first time accounts relayed by Israeli authorities about the death of Palestinian protesters turned out to be false or at least misleading. In January 2011, the IDF kept offering new versions of events regarding the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah, who died after inhaling large amounts of tear gas fired in Bil’in. On Nakba Day earlier this year, the IDF denied using live fire against two Palestinian teenagers shot while appearing to present no threat; an autopsy later showed that the boys were killed with live bullets.

Related:
Truth, tapes and two dead Palestinians
The IDF Spokeperson’s ever-changing story about Bil’in death

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IDF’s ‘start-up nation’ reservists refuse to serve the occupation http://972mag.com/idfs-start-up-nation-reservists-refuse-to-serve-the-occupation/96636/ http://972mag.com/idfs-start-up-nation-reservists-refuse-to-serve-the-occupation/96636/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 14:50:15 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96636 One of the most striking points in the unprecedented refusal letter is the forceful argument that Israel’s policies vis-a-vis Palestinians are simply unrelated to defense –and they are a matter of choice.

Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron take part in the search operation for three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, June 18, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron take part in the search operation for the kidnappers of three Israeli teenagers, June 18, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Forty-three members of the IDF’s prestigious and secretive Unit 8200 have signed a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stating their refusal to serve in reserve duty related to military governance over Palestinians. The document, made available by Ynet, expresses their opposition in blunt language (my translation):

We who came out of Unit 8200, men and women reservists past and present, declare that we refuse to take part in activities against Palestinians and refuse to continue serving as instruments to deepen the military rule over the occupied territories.

8200 is practically a legendary unit within the intelligence corps of the army. It is responsible for both internal and foreign signals intelligence-gathering, alongside the Mossad and Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service. A large unit with various subdivisions, some members are known for their Arabic language skills, used to monitor life and media in the Arab and Palestinian world. Perhaps its strongest reputation is as Israel’s high-tech incubator, developing the cutting edge technology related to communications, focused on hacking, and encrypting, decoding and transmitting information.

As civilians, its highly educated and largely Ashkenazi graduates, particularly the men, have often leveraged their skills in Israel’s high-tech industry and are commonly thought of as the sparky, plucky drivers of the “start-up nation.”

+972 Magazine’s Haggai Matar, writing in Hebrew on Local Call and citing a Yedioth Ahronoth article, described the incidents that the reservists concluded were unjustified (all excerpts my translation):

The refuseniks of 8200 gave different examples of things they do on a routine basis as part of their army service, such as revealing the sexual preferences of Palestinians in order to blackmail them and thereby recruit them as collaborators. That, or by exploiting economic hardships or medical needs of Palestinians who need treatment in Israel. The other main examples deal with … assassinations and bombings of Gaza since Cast Lead, including targets that [the signatories] say were unjustified, caused unnecessary harm to innocents and didn’t contribute to the security of residents of Israel.

Haggai interviewed Daniel, one of the reservists who initiated the letter about one year ago – long before Protective Edge.

Some of [the things the unit does] are supposed to protect us from violence, but some of it is just destroying Palestinian society, preventing them from improving their lives in any way…We’re not saying this because we read it in some newspapers or blogs, but because that’s what we had to do in the framework of our roles.

Daniel also stressed to Haggai that these incidents are not aberrations:

They are not exceptions that happened to some of them once or twice – the opposite: in their testimony they were careful to choose examples that are structural aspects of service in the unit, with the knowledge and approval of the chain of command.

Collective refusal in this elite unit is unprecedented. Haggai notes that the last group refusal from any unit was a decade ago.

A former member of the unit who agreed to speak with +972 Magazine anonymously, although she was not a signatory (nor was she approached), felt that the move was significant in several ways.

On an operational level, she explained, the skills that 8200 members possess are not easily replaced. A reservist who refuses duty can’t be replaced as easily as a combat soldier.

She also saw it as a statement that intelligence – specifically human intelligence which is one of the unit’s major tasks – is equally responsibility for the situation on the ground. “Maybe in the past they thought, if we were combat soldiers, we would be refusing. But now they realize there’s no reason, just because they’re intelligence, that they don’t have responsibility. That’s what’s new here.” They may even play a greater role:

The fact that they provide the technology and information is a greater responsibility in a way, because it’s acknowledging that the gathering of information can’t be separated from what happens on the ground. Sitting in front of a screen is no different from dropping a bomb.

The fact that they are reservists who have served in this unit for years means they cannot be written off as newcomers who may have started out as radical left-wingers; further, the signatories state that they do not intend to refuse tasks related to foreign intelligence.

Indeed, one of the most striking points in the letter is the forceful argument that Israel’s policies with relation to Palestinians are simply unrelated to defense –and they are a matter of choice.

Millions of Palestinians are living under Israeli military rule for 47 years already. This regime negates their basic rights and takes away large portions of land in order to settle Jews who are subject to a different system of laws, justice and enforcement. This reality is not the inevitable result of the state’s efforts to defend itself, but rather it is the result of choice. Settlement expansion has nothing to do with self defense, and the same goes for the limitations on construction and development, economic exploitation of West Bank lands, collective punishment of the residents of Gaza and the route of the separation fence.

Related:
How can you tell that Israeli refuseniks are scaring the system?
Israeli teens tell Netanyahu: We will not take part in occupation
Egyptian, Israeli activists make joint call to free conscientious objectors

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Tariq Abu Khdeir: More officers should face justice for my beating http://972mag.com/tariq-abu-khdeir-more-officers-should-face-justice-for-my-beating/96593/ http://972mag.com/tariq-abu-khdeir-more-officers-should-face-justice-for-my-beating/96593/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 19:04:46 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96593 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 chased by three officers, beaten and arrested.

Israeli police said the 15 year old took part in the protests, resisted arrested and was carrying a slingshot to throw stones. He was held for three days by Israeli authorities before being released under pressure from the U.S. government.

American citizen Tarek Abu Khdeir, 15, after being beaten by Israeli police. (Photos provided to Addameer by the Abu Khdeir family.)

American citizen Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, after being beaten by Israeli police. (Photos provided to Addameer by the Abu Khdeir family.)

Shibly said he and the Abu Khdeir family were “troubled that many of Tariq’s relatives continue to be incarcerated by Israeli police without charge in apparent retaliation for the publicity the Khdeir case generated.”

“After another cousin of the slain East Jerusalem teenager [Mohammed Abu Khdeir] was arrested on July 28, also a U.S. citizen, the State Department accused Israel of ‘singling out’ his relatives,” Times of Israel reported.

Suha Abu Khdeir, the boy’s mother, said it was “a shame that in order for [Israeli authorities] to take action it had to be an American citizen that this happened to.”

Abu Khdeir, the bruises on his face now healed two months after the beating, said he was grateful that the incident was caught on video and for being American — the two most likely reasons that charges were filed against the Israeli officer at all.

“I just want justice for what the Israeli police did to me and I don’t want this happening to . . . anyone else, especially children,” he said.

Related:
Why are Palestinian citizens expected to be loyal to Israel?
Why Palestinian citizens of Israel are no longer safe
Israel’s other war: Silencing Palestinian citizens
Tariq Abu Khdeir wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last

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PHOTOS: Hundreds attend Ramallah funeral of young Palestinian killed by IDF http://972mag.com/photos-hundreds-attend-ramallah-funeral-of-young-palestinian-killed-by-idf/96568/ http://972mag.com/photos-hundreds-attend-ramallah-funeral-of-young-palestinian-killed-by-idf/96568/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 16:21:46 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96568 A 22-year-old Palestinian man was shot in the chest by Israeli soldiers at about 5 a.m. Wednesday after troops raided the al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral Wednesday of Issa al-Qatri, who was killed earlier by Israeli soldiers during a raid on the al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah. According to Ma’an News Agency, soldiers entered the camp to arrest a wanted Hamas member when they were met with resistance from young men who threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the forces. The soldiers responded with live fire, injuring and killing al-Qatri. The 22-year-old was set to be married next week.

Palestinians carry the body of Eissa al-Qotri during his funeral at the Al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 10, 2014. Al-Qotri was killed by the Israeli army early on September 10, 2014 during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers after the Israeli army raided the camp. (photo: Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills)

Palestinians carry the body of Eissa al-Qotri during his funeral at the Al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 10, 2014. Al-Qotri was killed by the Israeli army early on September 10, 2014 during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers after the Israeli army raided the camp. (photo: Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills)

Haaretz reported that the soldiers had opened fire on the young Palestinian when they reportedly saw that he was about to throw an explosive device toward them. The army stated that the raid on the refugee camp led to the arrest of a wanted Palestinian, who was found with weapons in his possession.

During al-Qatri’s funeral procession in Ramallah shots were fired into the air and mourners expressed their outrage that 32 Palestinians had been killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces in a two-month period beginning on June 13, according to Ma’an.

Violent clashes also broke out Monday between police and Palestinians after the funeral of a 16-year-old Palestinian who died on Sunday, a week after being shot by Israeli police and sustaining a head injury during protests in the city.

The funeral procession for Eissa al-Qotri at the Al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 10, 2014. Al-Qotri was killed by the Israeli army early on September 10, 2014 during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers after the Israeli army raided the camp. (photo: Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills)

The funeral procession for Eissa al-Qotri at the Al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 10, 2014. Al-Qotri was killed by the Israeli army early on September 10, 2014 during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers after the Israeli army raided the camp. (photo: Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills)

The funeral of Eissa al-Qotri at the Al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 10, 2014. Al-Qotri was killed by the Israeli army early on September 10, 2014 during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers after the Israeli army raided the camp. (photo: Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills)

The funeral of Eissa al-Qotri at the Al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 10, 2014. Al-Qotri was killed by the Israeli army early on September 10, 2014 during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers after the Israeli army raided the camp. (photo: Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills)

The funeral procession for Eissa al-Qotri at the Al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 10, 2014. Al-Qotri was killed by the Israeli army early on September 10, 2014 during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers after the Israeli army raided the camp. (photo: Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills)

The funeral procession for Eissa al-Qotri at the Al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 10, 2014. Al-Qotri was killed by the Israeli army early on September 10, 2014 during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers after the Israeli army raided the camp. (photo: Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills)

Related:
PHOTOS: Fierce clashes in East Jerusalem after police kill young Palestinian

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