+972 Magazine » News http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Wed, 25 Nov 2015 20:00:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Court shuts down left-wing lecture following threats of violence http://972mag.com/court-shuts-down-left-wing-lecture-following-threats-of-violence/114216/ http://972mag.com/court-shuts-down-left-wing-lecture-following-threats-of-violence/114216/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2015 19:26:29 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=114216 ‘Breaking the Silence’ planned to hold a speaking event at a local pub in Be’er Sheva. The police shut it down after it could not ensure the safety of the participants.

By John Brown*

Yahuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence leading a tour in Hebron (photo: Activestills.org)

Illustrative photo of Yehuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence leading a tour in Hebron. (photo: Activestills.org)

A Be’er Sheva court barred a local pub from hosting an event put on by “Breaking the Silence” following threats by right-wing activists.

The Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court issued the order barring the event, which was supposed to take place Tuesday night at the Ashan Hazman pub, following a request by the police, which arrested a resident of the city on suspicion of threatening the pub owner earlier this week.


Breaking the Silence is an Israeli NGO comprised of former combat soldiers who try to expose the Israeli public to the realities of the occupation through discussions of their military service as well as tours to the West Bank.

In court, the police prosecutor argued that “according to our intelligence, extreme rightists called on other right wingers to come to the pub and torpedo the event. Our intelligence included remarks that were grave bordering on dangerous.” The judge accepted the appeal and barred the event from taking place at the pub. According to the judge, “the intelligence shows that there are those who wish to disrupt the gathering… and that they are willing to use violence to do so.”

According to the state representative, the request for a restraining order came too late — only four hours before the event was scheduled to take place — and that they only heard of the event the day before the hearing. This is a strange claim, when considering that the police arrested a right-wing activist suspected of threatening the event organizer two days on Sunday.

The request for a restraining order also came after the organization complied with a police request to compile and hand over a list of attendees. According to Breaking the Silence, the police also requested the owner take responsibility over what happens in the area surrounding the pub during the event, meaning he is responsible for protecting patrons from right-wing violence. The owner refused this request, leading the police to appeal to the court.

It is worth noting that the pub is not a publicly-funded institution, and that the Breaking the Silence event was cancelled because the police were unable to protect attendees.

Breaking the Silence responded to the court’s decision:

Be’er Sheva Police has awarded right-wing terror a prize instead of doing its job and maintaining public order. It’s capitulation to right-wing terror does not happen in a vacuum, this is the spirit of the law that comes from above — from the prime minister, education minister, justice minister and their friends — who constantly incite against social activists and human rights activists. Neither their campaign of hatred and incitement nor will right-wing terror stop us — we will continue to meet today and in the future, with everyone who cares about the future of the state and Israeli society. They will not silence us.

Breaking the Silence eventually held the event in a number of private apartments in Be’er Sheva.

*John Brown is the pseudonym of an Israeli academic and a blogger. This story first appeared in Hebrew on Local Call, where he is a blogger. Read it here.

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WATCH: How the far-right glorifies killing of Palestinians http://972mag.com/watch-how-the-far-right-glorifies-killing-of-palestinians/114163/ http://972mag.com/watch-how-the-far-right-glorifies-killing-of-palestinians/114163/#comments Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:32:38 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=114163 The leader of a popular Jewish supremacist group circulates a new video that puts CCTV footage of stabbing attack to bouncy electronic music and violent, disturbing lyrics.

Benzi Gopstein, the head of Lehava, posted a video on his Facebook page Monday glorifying the killing of Palestinians. Lehava is a popular Jewish supremacist group dedicated to preventing Arab-Jewish relations, which is also accused of regular incitement and racism against Palestinians — both online and on the streets of Jerusalem.

(Click here for the original posting on Facebook)

The video itself is CCTV footage of an incident in Jerusalem on Monday in which two Palestinian girls, 14 and 16, stabbed an elderly Palestinian man with scissors (presumably mistaking him for a Jewish Israeli) before they were shot several times, and even after they lay still on the ground. One was killed, the other is in critical condition.

Crappy electronic music was added to the CCTV footage with synthesized lyrics: “She just wants to stab, put a bullet in her head.” Gopstein shared it on Facebook and wrote: “The new video, if you enjoy it share it!”


Using the video to glorify, celebrate and make light of the shooting of two Palestinian teenage girls, even though they attacked an innocent man with scissors, is almost as disturbing as the attack itself.

It is not just that the video glorifies and fetishizes the killing of Palestinians. It’s not just that it could be construed as incitement against all Palestinians, encouraging people to shoot to kill. In a certain tragic sense, it is an accurate snapshot of what life feels like in Israel these days.

In the current reality it feels like everyone is a potential target, and everything a potential weapon. Murder is not a means to an end, it has become the end. And all of the above is mediated through images and videos that people can watch, manipulate and share as they wish. This of course is done by both Israelis and Palestinians. But let’s not forget who has the army, the right to carry weapons, and the monopoly on the use of force.

Violence itself has gained currency here, in the literal sense of the word: “the quality or state of being used or accepted by many people.” Violence against Palestinians long ago became an accepted part of daily life in Israel. Now, violence against Israelis has once again become normal, too, with Israelis being attacked daily and the majority of people remaining silent about it — as if it is par for the course.

How many more people need to be killed before we realize things need to change, drastically?

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Palestinian groups present ‘war crimes’ evidence to the ICC http://972mag.com/palestinian-groups-present-war-crimes-evidence-to-the-icc/114152/ http://972mag.com/palestinian-groups-present-war-crimes-evidence-to-the-icc/114152/#comments Mon, 23 Nov 2015 18:48:34 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=114152 The International Criminal Court prosecutor is conducting a ‘preliminary examination’ into the 2014 Gaza war. But are Israeli officials at higher risk of prosecution for illegally building settlements in the West Bank?

Al-Haq director Shawan Jabarin hands the confidential communication to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in the Hague, November 23, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Al-Haq)

Al-Haq director Shawan Jabarin hands the confidential communication, complied by four Palestinian human rights organizations, to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in the Hague, November 23, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Al-Haq)

Four Palestinian human rights organizations submitted research, testimonies and documentation to International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Monday, which they said contain evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israelis during the 2014 Gaza war.

The four Palestinian human rights organizations, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, Aldameer and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), said the information they handed over to Bensouda on Monday detailed “illustrative instances” of murder, torture, intentional attacks on civilians and and civilian targets, and extensive destruction that had no military necessity.


“We have provided the Office of the Prosecutor with enough information for it to determine that there is a reasonable basis to believe that senior Israeli military and civilian officials committed crimes against humanity and war crimes during the offensive against Gaza,” Al-Haq director Shawan Jabarin said after hand-delivering the materials to Bensouda in The Hague on Monday.

In accordance with the process laid out in the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court, Bensouda opened a preliminary investigation into the situation in Palestine on January 16, 2015, 15 days after Palestine joined the court.

Following the preliminary examination, the ICC prosecutor will decide whether or not to open a full-fledged investigation, which can result in criminal indictments of individuals suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In the current phase, the ICC prosecutor is gathering information from publicly available sources, as well as from individuals or groups, states, international organizations and from NGOs like human rights organizations. She then “take[s] steps to analyze and verify the seriousness of information received, including through a rigorous and independent source evaluation process.”

In a progress report published prior to the submission from the Palestinian rights organizations, Bensouda’s office said that it had thus far received 66 such communications containing information about alleged crimes committed since the start of the 2014 Gaza war, submitted by both individuals and other organizations.

‘Israel is unwilling to hold its soldiers accountable, Palestine is unable’

Relatives walk amidst the rubble of the home of Zaki Wahdan in the city of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza City, November 10, 2014. Eight members of the Wahdan family, mostly women and children were killed. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Relatives walk amidst the rubble of the home of Zaki Wahdan in the city of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza City, November 10, 2014. Eight members of the Wahdan family, mostly women and children were killed. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

One criterion the prosecutor must take into account, the principle of complementarity, will be particularly important when deciding whether to open a full-fledged investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel.

Complementarity means that if Israel investigates its own soldiers for suspected war crimes, and if it does so in good faith, then the ICC has no jurisdiction. But if the ICC determines that Israel is unwilling or incapable of investigating itself, then it may indeed have jurisdiction over war crimes committed by Israeli citizens, ranging from individual soldiers to generals and politicians.

Israel has not codified war crimes into its penal code, with the exception of genocide and crimes related to the Holocaust. Thus far, the only indictments that have been served against Israeli soldiers for crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza war are related to small-scale looting.

Based on experience seeking justice for Palestinian victims through Israeli courts, the Palestinian human rights organizations said they do not believe complementarity will pose a significant hurdle to an ICC investigation in this case. “Israel is unwilling and Palestine is unable to domestically hold to account Israeli perpetrators of international crimes,” PCHR director Raji Sourani said.

In addition to Israeli crimes in Gaza during the 2014 war, however, the ICC preliminary examination is also focusing on alleged Palestinian crimes, particularly the indiscriminate firing of rockets toward Israeli civilians, using civilian buildings and areas for military purposes, and the summary execution of 20 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel.

Settlements as a war crime

Settlement construction in Gilo, January 21, 2010. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Construction in the West Bank settlement Gilo, January 21, 2010. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Another area that few people are discussing publicly is the possibility that the ICC will open an investigation into Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank. Under the Rome Statue, an occupying power is prohibited from transferring, directly or indirectly, parts of its own population into the occupied territory.

An estimated 500,000 Israelis live in settlements beyond the Green Line, including in East Jerusalem.

The ICC prosecutor is currently examining the “carefully conceived network of policies, laws, and physical measures” that support the creation and expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, according to an ICC report on the prosecutor’s activities. The prosecutor is also examining an alleged “scheme of subsidies and incentives to encourage migration to the settlements and to boost their economic development.”

Israeli officials may ultimately be far more exposed to the risk of ICC prosecution for settlement activities than suspected war crimes in Gaza. Whereas Israel can attempt a complementarity defense with regards to war crimes in Gaza by pointing to domestic investigations of its soldiers, Israel’s High Court of Justice has never even agreed to hear a single argument on the legality of settlements.

“Israel’s main problem is indeed with settlements since this is a topic that has no complementarity issue at all,” human rights lawyer Michael Sfard explained to +972. “All the evidence and policies are known and accessible.” The magnitude of the crime and the number of people and communities who have been affected by it over nearly 50 years, Sfard added, “makes it the perfect case for a world criminal court.”

Indeed, the issue of gravity and the ICC’s willingness to investigate alleged Israeli crimes has been a hot topic in the ICC in recent weeks. Earlier this month an ICC appeals court essentially rejected a decision by Bensouda not to investigate Israel’s killing of 10 Turkish nationals aboard the Mavi Marmara in 2010. Bensouda had decided not to investigate based on her assessment that the alleged crime was not of “sufficient gravity” to warrant intervention by the ICC.

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New Jewish settlements planned ‘on top of’ Bedouin villages http://972mag.com/new-jewish-settlements-planned-on-top-of-bedouin-villages/114104/ http://972mag.com/new-jewish-settlements-planned-on-top-of-bedouin-villages/114104/#comments Mon, 23 Nov 2015 12:05:17 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=114104 The Israeli government approves a plan for five new settlements in the Negev/Naqab. Rights group says the plan, like Israel’s overall policy regarding its Bedouin citizens, is discriminatory.

A man from the Zanoun family sits on the ruins of his house a few hours after it was demolished by the Israeli Land Administration, in the unrecognized bedouin village of Wadi Al Na'am, Negev Desert, May 18, 2014. The family of seven people was living in the house demolished for being illegaly built. Wadi Al-Na’am is the largest unrecognized village in Israel, with about 13,000 inhabitants, most of its inhabitants are internally displaced. The village is not connected to electricity and its inhabitants are subjected to Israel's house demolition policy. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

A man from the Zanoun family sits on the ruins of his house in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Wadi Al Na’am a few hours after it was demolished by Israeli authorities, Negev, May 18, 2014. Wadi Al-Na’am is the largest unrecognized village in Israel, with about 13,000 inhabitants, most of whom are internally displaced from elsewhere in Israel. The village is not connected to electricity. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

The Israeli government on Sunday approved a plan for five new Jewish settlements to be built in the Negev (Naqab) in the south of Israel. The plan, which was submitted by Housing Minister Yoav Galant of Kulanu, threatens to displace thousands of Bedouin from their homes.


Two of the settlements are due to be built where Bedouin villages already exist, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). The new town of Daya is to be established on top of the unrecognized village of Katamat, which would displace its 1,500 Bedouin residents. Neve Gurion, meanwhile, is meant to be built on part of the land of the recognized village of Be’er Hadaj, home to 6,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel.

“This decision is a mere continuation of the government’s unequal planning policy, which attempts to move the inhabitants of Bedouin villages to urban or semi-urban settlements or existing townships, which are ranked at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder and are already under significant stress,” ACRI wrote in a statement on Sunday.

The government’s announcement comes just weeks after the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al-Araqib in the Negev was demolished for the 90th time. Israel’s continual razing of Al Araqib began in 2010, and the village has become a symbol of the ethnic discrimination that characterizes the state’s policies in the Negev.

Since the founding of the State of Israel, Jewish settlement in the Negev has been considered Zionism’s final frontier — an impression largely instilled by the vision of David Ben-Gurion, the country’s first prime minister. “It is in the Negev that the people of Israel will be tested,” Ben-Gurion said in the 1950s.

“Only with a united effort … will we accomplish the great mission of populating the wilderness and bringing it to flourish. This effort will determine the fate of the State of Israel and the standing of our people in the history of mankind.” Several years later, he reiterated: “The Negev is a great Zionist asset, with no substitute anywhere in the country.”

A Bedouin child leading a camel is seen behind barb wire placed to separate the unrecognized Bedouin village of Amra-Tarabin from the Jewish village of Omer (seen in the background), May 22, 2009. (Photo: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)

A Bedouin child leading a camel is seen behind barb wire placed to separate the unrecognized Bedouin village of Amra-Tarabin from the Jewish village of Omer (seen in the background), May 22, 2009. (Photo: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)

Sixty years later, the wheels of Ben-Gurion’s dream have been firmly set in motion. The Prawer Plan, a government framework for forcibly moving thousands of Bedouin living in unrecognized villages in the Negev into impoverished townships, seemed dead in the water until the last elections. During coalition negotiations, the plan was resuscitated as a bargaining chip between the Likud and Jewish Home, with Naftali Bennett leveraging its revival as a condition for joining the government.

Israeli is also expropriating large tracts of Bedouin land – either for “greening” (i.e. planting forests on top of the ruins of demolished villages) under the auspices of the JNF, or for building new Jewish settlements on top of Bedouin towns, as is the state’s wont.

Israel has systematically refused to recognize many of the Negev villages and towns in which Bedouin citizens live, meaning that they have no connections to electricity, water or sewage infrastructure, and are in constant danger of demolition. The new suburban settlements the state builds in the Negev are generally designated for Jews, whereas Bedouin are encouraged to move to Bedouin-only townships that lack economic opportunities and are not designed with Bedouin social structures in mind.

The Negev village of Umm el-Hiran is perhaps the most blatant example of how the state hopes to displace Bedouin citizens for the benefit of Jewish citizens. The Israeli Supreme Court recently upheld plans to demolish Umm el-Hiran and build a Jewish town, named Hiran, in its place. Umm el-Hiran’s Bedouin residents would be forcibly relocated to the nearby township of Hura, according to the state’s plans.

Adjacent to Umm el-Hiran is the village of Atir, which also faces destruction — so that the JNF can expand a manmade forest, named Yatir, over its ruins. (Notice the pattern of only slightly altering names to Hebraize them?)

Housing Minister Galant on Sunday evoked Ben-Gurion when praising the government’s passing of his plan [Heb]: “It is our responsibility to settle the Negev … to turn it into a desirable and thriving area, in keeping with the Zionist vision,” he said.

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U.S. anthropologists vote to boycott Israeli academia http://972mag.com/u-s-anthropologists-vote-to-boycott-israeli-academia/114041/ http://972mag.com/u-s-anthropologists-vote-to-boycott-israeli-academia/114041/#comments Sat, 21 Nov 2015 17:16:19 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=114041 American Anthropological Association votes resoundingly to sever all ties with Israeli academic institutions, as a response to Israel’s ‘widespread, systematic, and ongoing violations of Palestinian rights.’

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) overwhelmingly passed a resolution to support the boycott of Israeli academic institutions during its annual business meeting on Friday. The resolution will go into effect only if it is approved by a final vote of all association members sometime in the coming months.


With over 10,000 members, AAA is by far the largest academic association in the United States to endorse the boycott at an annual meeting.

The resolution, which was resoundingly approved by a vote of 1040-136, will sever all ties between the AAA and Israeli academic institutions, although Israeli academics will be able to take part in events organized by the association. Moreover, every member of the AAA will be able to decide for her or himself whether or not to implement the decision in their work.

According to a statement by “Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions,” a group actively involved in supporting the resolution over the past few years, the “historic result” is a response to Israel’s “widespread, systematic, and ongoing violations of Palestinian rights, as well as to protest the complicity of Israeli academic institutions in these abuses.”

The group’s website lists several examples of the direct involvement of Israel’s academic institutions in the occupation, including the establishment of a university in the West Bank, the development of weapons and combat doctrines used by the military in the occupied territories, the decision by the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) to provide academic credits to students involved in hasbara efforts, etc.

According to the group’s site, a competing resolution rejecting the boycott under the guise of promoting “engagement” was soundly defeated by a vote of 1173-196.

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Meet the Israeli and Palestinian groups waging peace http://972mag.com/meet-the-israeli-and-palestinian-groups-waging-peace/114047/ http://972mag.com/meet-the-israeli-and-palestinian-groups-waging-peace/114047/#comments Sat, 21 Nov 2015 14:01:19 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=114047 Although the ongoing political stalemate has continued for years and peace seems like nothing more than a fantasy, joint Israeli and Palestinian initiatives seeking to put an end to the occupation and promote a political settlement remain undeterred.

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Number of Palestinian minors in Israeli prisons doubles http://972mag.com/number-of-palestinian-minors-in-israeli-prisons-doubles/114031/ http://972mag.com/number-of-palestinian-minors-in-israeli-prisons-doubles/114031/#comments Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:50:02 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=114031 There are so many new Palestinian minors being sent to Israeli prisons that authorities had to open a new wing to house them. Rights groups report numerous cases of mistreatment, and that the children are moved outside of the West Bank in violation of international law.

By Noam Rotem

Israeli border police arrest a Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem’s Shuafat Refugee Camp, file photo. (Photo by Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

Israeli border police arrest a Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem’s Shuafat Refugee Camp, file photo. (Photo by Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

Israeli authorities have arrested hundreds of Palestinian minors since the latest uprising began in the start of October. They have been sent to four different facilitates run by the Israel Prison Service (IPS) on both sides of the Green Line.


When the pace of arrests picked up, the IPS decide to open a new, temporary wing for minors at the Giv’on prison in order to ease overcrowding at existing facilities. Until that time, Giv’on only housed “light” criminal offenders with sentences under five years, including asylum seekers and Palestinians who entered Israel without the proper permits.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, 62 Palestinian minors are being held in the facility. Attorneys for Palestinian prisoners’ rights organization Addameer who visited the facility a few days earlier counted 56.

Lawyers from the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) met with a number of Palestinian minors being held in Giv’on, none of whom had criminal records, some of whom were just 14 years old and stood accused of various crimes. They said they were being held in small cells, two meters by one meter, three boys to a cell. Some of them still hadn’t seen any of their family members since their arrests several weeks ago.

Electronic Intifada interviewed the families of some of the Palestinian minors being held in Israeli prisons, and reported that some families were not even notified where their children were being held. Only days later, and with the help of the Red Cross, did they manage to find their children in the new Giv’on prison wing. “Once they were allowed to enter the facility, the families had to divide among themselves the 30 minutes they were allotted to speak to their children on a phone through a plexiglass screen,” EI reported.

The story doesn’t end with overcrowding and a lack of communication with the minors’ families, however. The minors imprisoned in Giv’on complain of the harsh and humiliating treatment they receive from the guards. Members of the Public Committee Against Torture say that in one case, guards entered their cell with batons and beat them for nearly an hour, as retribution for setting off a smoke detector. When they finished up, PCATI members say, one minor was taken out of his cell and a guard strangled him until his vision became blurry. He was then put into an isolation cell, his hands and legs shackled, and left there from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. in drenched clothes and with no food or water. When he asked to go to the bathroom, it took two hours before he was taken. “There is a basis for believing that other minors were shackled and beaten in the same incident,” PCATI said, noting it planned to file an official complaint.

The Prison Service confirmed that the incident took place, adding that “a number of minors caused a disturbance and intentionally broke the fire sprinkler in their cell, which flooded the cell and caused thousands of shekels of damage. To prevent further disturbances, four of them were restrained and shackled for the rest of the night, after which they were returned to the [prison] wing. All those involved were charged and the process was documented. The complaint received about violence on the part of the guards was passed along to the [internal affairs division].”

Addameer claims that on November 1st one of the minors was taken to the bathroom, where he was stripped, restrained and searched. The same day, according to the organization’s lawyers, guards attacked a number of minors as they searched their cells. Lawyers for the Prisoners Club reported the case of “Z”, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy from Jerusalem, who says he was hit on his arms and legs and forced to kneel facing the wall for hours on end during which time he was periodically struck on his neck.

The organizations also say that the minors have complained about the food they are being given in the facility. According to their attorneys, they complained they are not receiving enough food, that it is cold and inedible.

The Prison Service rejected the claims about the quality and quantity of food, saying that: “the youths receive (nutritionally) fortified food, according to the IPS menu suited for their age, five meals a day. The food is transported to the [prison] wing in heating devices so claims that it is cold are not logical. That said, as a result of their request, pita bread is now distributed during every meal.” The IPS added that in recent weeks third-parties have inspected the facility and did not discover any violence or issues with the food.

According to IPS figures, as of the end of September it was holding 182 Israeli minors (Jewish and Arab citizens and residents) and 187 Palestinian “security prisoners” under the age of 18, mostly from the West Bank. Since the start of October the number of Palestinian minors who have been sent to Israeli prisons has more than doubled. The Palestinian Prisoners Club reported that as of November 20, Universal Children’s Day, more than 400 Palestinian minors were being held in Israeli prisons.

Many of the Palestinian minors being held in Israeli prison facilities are disconnected from their families, who must apply for permits to enter Israel where those facilities are located. (Moving prisoners out of occupied territory is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, partly for this very reason, but that’s another story.) They are under the supervision of guards who oftentimes don’t speak their language, they are often denied rehabilitation services, and education and social activities. There is television, PCATI says, but that’s all.

Noam Rotem is an Israeli activist, high-tech executive and author of the blog o139.org, subtitled “Godwin doesn’t live here any more.” This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call, where he is also a blogger.

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Five killed in Tel Aviv, West Bank attacks http://972mag.com/five-killed-in-tel-aviv-west-bank-attacks/114005/ http://972mag.com/five-killed-in-tel-aviv-west-bank-attacks/114005/#comments Thu, 19 Nov 2015 18:42:08 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=114005 Violence reignites across Israel-Palestine on Thursday as four Israelis and one Palestinian are killed in two separate attacks in Tel Aviv and the West Bank. The two attackers, both West Bank Palestinians, are apprehended.

An Israeli tramway security guard, stabbed by two Palestinian boys, is wheeled away on a stretcher at the scene of the assault at a tramway station in the settlement neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev in annexed East Jerusalem on November 10, 2015. One of the Palestinian boys, a minor, was shot and wounded while the other was arrested. The security guard was wounded and taken to hospital.

An Israeli tramway security guard, stabbed by two Palestinian boys, is wheeled away on a stretcher at the scene of the assault at a tramway station in the settlement neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev in annexed East Jerusalem on November 10, 2015. One of the Palestinian boys, a minor, was shot and wounded while the other was arrested. The security guard was wounded and taken to hospital. (photo: Activestills.org)

Four Israelis and one Palestinian were killed in two separate attacks on both sides of the Green Line Thursday afternoon. Several others were wounded in both incidents.

In the first attack, a 36-year-old Palestinian stabbed several Israelis outside a synagogue in south Tel Aviv, killing one and injuring two, one of whom later died from his wounds. The two victims were named as Yesiev Aharon, 32, and Aviram Reuven, 51. The attacker, 36-year-old Riad Mahmoud al-Masalma from the West Bank village Dura, reportedly received an entry permit into Israel and had been working at a restaurant near the scene of the stabbings. Masalma was lightly injured while being apprehended before being taken into custody.


The assault marked the first terror attack in central Israel since four Israelis were injured in stabbing attacks in Rishon Lezion and Netanya two weeks ago.

About two hours later, a Palestinian man killed two Israelis and another Palestinian after a staggered shooting and car-ramming attack at the Alon Shvut and Gush Etzion junctions in the southern West Bank. According to initial reports, the attacker opened fire at several vehicles while driving past Alon Shvut junction, wounding several.

He then continued to Gush Etzion junction and opened fire again before driving his car into another vehicle. Two of those killed – an 18-year-old Jewish-American tourist and a 24-year-old Palestinian – were pronounced dead at the scene, with the third victim — a 51-year-old Israeli — succumbed to his wounds in hospital. The suspected attacker and an accomplice were arrested shortly after the incident.

Thursday’s attacks brought to an end a very brief period of relative quiet, at least from the Israeli perspective; the previous attack occurred last Friday when a Palestinian shot two Israelis dead near Hebron. The day before, one Palestinian was shot dead by undercover Israeli forces raiding a Hebron hospital to arrest his cousin, while another, 22-year-old Yousef Awad, was shot dead during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Budrus.

Palestinian youths run from tear gas during clashes with the Israeli army in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, November 13, 2015.  (Anne Paq/Activestills)

Palestinian youths run from tear gas during clashes with the Israeli army in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, November 13, 2015. (Anne Paq/Activestills)

The six-day interlude interrupted what had been a continual series of attacks on both sides of the Green Line, along with near-daily clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces and widespread demonstrations throughout the West Bank and Gaza, which frequently turned deadly.

The deaths on Thursday brought the death toll since the beginning of October to 17 Israelis, at least 87 Palestinians — many of whom were shot dead after allegedly carrying out attacks — and one Eritrean asylum seeker, who was mistaken for an attacker, shot by a security guard and severely beaten by Israeli bystanders following a deadly attack on the Be’er Sheva central bus station. More than 80 Israelis and around 1,200 Palestinians have been injured.

The apparent reigniting of the violence on Thursday, and its return to central Israel, bring to bear the warnings of Israeli security officials a fortnight ago that any calm would be short-lived, and that relations with the Palestinian Authority had sustained significant damage.

In spite of the short lull in attacks against Israelis, however, unrest in the West Bank and Gaza has been ongoing throughout the last week. On Sunday, two Palestinians were shot dead in a gunfight with Israeli forces who had arrived at Qalandiya refugee camp in order to demolish the home of a camp resident suspected of killing an Israeli in June.

A Palestinian was killed in another gunfight north of Ramallah on Tuesday evening, while earlier that day five Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli security forces in Bethlehem.

Elsewhere on Thursday, a Palestinian teen was shot and seriously wounded in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Dis during confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli forces. Two Palestinians were also wounded during a pre-dawn raid by Israeli soldiers in Deiheishe refugee camp.

Several storms have also been brewing on the diplomatic front over the past week. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the marketing of land for 454 new homes in the East Jerusalem settlements of Ramat Shlomo and Ramot. The same day, the Israeli government also outlawed the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, a move which may have far-reaching and unintended consequences.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Israel had begun working on a series of measures designed to punish numerous European countries that supported the EU’s plans to label settlement products. Reports also emerged on Thursday suggesting that Israel is considering suing the EU over its decision.

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Israel preventing Gaza woman from attending her own wedding http://972mag.com/israel-preventing-gaza-woman-from-attending-her-own-wedding/114007/ http://972mag.com/israel-preventing-gaza-woman-from-attending-her-own-wedding/114007/#comments Thu, 19 Nov 2015 16:37:07 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=114007 According to the Israeli army, Palestinians from Gaza can attend a relative’s wedding — just not their own.

Palestinian demonstrators hold a mock wedding during a nonviolent demonstration in the West Bank village Al-Ma'asara. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian demonstrators hold a mock wedding during a nonviolent demonstration in the West Bank village Al-Ma’asara. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The Israeli army is denying a 23-year-old Palestinian woman from traveling through Israel to reach her own wedding ceremony in Jordan.


According to Israeli human rights group Gisha, the petitioner has been engaged to her fiancé — a Palestinian from Gaza with Spanish citizenship — for the past year and a half. Their wedding date has been delayed twice already due to fact that Israel will not let her leave the Gaza Strip, the second time after the couple had already sent out the invitations.

The woman, as well as her future in-laws, have attempted to coordinate leaving from Gaza through Rafah Crossing to Egypt, but the crossing has been mostly closed for the past year and a half and the line for a visa to pass through is some 17,000-people-long, according to Gisha.

The Israeli army rejected the woman’s previous exit permit applications on the grounds that she “does not meet the criteria.” According to the government’s own criteria, Palestinians may request exit permits only in exceptional humanitarian cases, including to attend the wedding or funeral of a first-degree relative — but not their own.

Gisha filed a petition to Israel’s High Court of Justice Thursday on behalf of the woman and her future in-laws. The petition demands that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, the army’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), and the army’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison office justify the travel ban.

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Israel’s ultimatum to refugees: Indefinite detention or danger http://972mag.com/israels-ultimatum-to-refugees-indefinite-detention-or-danger/113976/ http://972mag.com/israels-ultimatum-to-refugees-indefinite-detention-or-danger/113976/#comments Wed, 18 Nov 2015 15:57:32 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=113976 An Israeli court upholds the government’s policy of indefinitely imprisoning African asylum if they don’t agree to ‘voluntary deportation’ to third countries with no legal status. The xenophobia driving Israel’s policy is top-down, but there is another way.

By Anat Ovadia-Rosner

African asylum seekers in Israel prison. 2014 (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

African asylum seekers in Israel ‘s ‘open prison’ facility, Holot. 2014 (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The Be’er Sheva District Court rejected a petition filed by human rights organizations earlier this month, thereby green lighting the indefinite imprisonment of asylum seekers unless they agree to leave Israel for a third country. The term “voluntary deportation” has always described a dubious state of affairs: people who risked their lives to get to Israel, whom the state did everything in its power to make miserable, are said to depart of their own “free will.” Following this ruling, the indifference and cynicism suggested by this term will only grow as those humans who fled dictatorship and genocide are forced to choose between indefinite detention and a dangerous journey, during and at the end of which, their safety is not guaranteed.


Sadly, the court failed to grant sufficient weight to testimonies presented to it, collected by the human rights organizations whose researchers actually went to visit those destination countries, witnessing reality there first hand. Asylum seekers leaving Israel for Rwanda (the only country offered to asylum seekers over the last few months, according to what we are told) discovered a reality drastically different than the prospects promised to them by Israel. The travel documents provided upon departure from Israel were taken from them upon their arrival to Rwanda; they were led to an enclosed compound and told they could not leave it unless they pay human smugglers the entire stipend given to them by Israel in order to illegally cross the border to Uganda. Those crossing the border embark on a treacherous journey, on which they are forced to hide from Ugandan authorities and are vulnerable to robbery and violence. (Read more on the fate of those who ‘voluntarily’ leave Israel here.)

Uganda too has nothing in store for asylum seekers: accessibility to asylum proceedings is limited, and asylum seekers have neither papers nor ability to work legally. This means that many of them try to move on. Some individuals who had left Israel were lucky enough to make it safely to countries in Europe, but others, like those executed by ISIS in Libya this past April, were not so lucky. They were forced to leave Uganda for other countries, searching for a safe place. For them, the journey commences all over again. Israel, which has driven them to embark again on this dangerous journey, indifferently casting them away to a country where they cannot settle, cannot absolve itself of responsibility for their fate. With the ever-increasing refugee influx to Europe, Israel has a duty to behave as any nation in this world should, rather than trying to transfer asylum seekers who have reached it to Europe, across a long, risky road.

A Sudanese woman shows her UNHCR Refugee card from Egypt as Sudanese refugees protest in front of the government's offices in center Tel Aviv against the plan to imprison refugees, October 14, 2012. Israel is building a new facility that could house thousands of additional asylum seekers in the Negev Desert. (photo by: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)

A Sudanese woman shows her UNHCR Refugee card from Egypt as Sudanese refugees protest in front of the government’s offices in central Tel Aviv against a plan to imprison refugees in Holot, October 14, 2012.  (photo by: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)

Israel’s agreements with the third-party countries remain classified. Nevertheless, information about the arrangements has been released by the media more than once. Yet despite the fact that this information comes from asylum seekers who were sent to those countries, the state has yet to admit that the destinations are indeed Rwanda and Uganda. Nor does it specify the protections to be provided for those arriving there and the guarantees for their safety. Asylum seekers, therefore, are requested to sign an agreement the contents of which they do not know. The ruling earlier this month means that thousands of people will be detained only because of their legitimate fear of leaving for a place where no one can guarantee their safety. Can anyone blame them? The fact that many of them have indeed yielded to this dubious deal only demonstrates the despair they have been reduced to by Israel. It is not just the threat of being detained at Saharonim and the detention already underway in the Holot ‘open’ prison. The pressure is manifested in every mundane and daily detail: the absence of any social rights, the fact they can only plan their lives a few weeks at a time and the deliberate imposition of tortuous bureaucratic hurdles at every turn.

The indifference to the lives of asylum seekers emerging from this arrangement cries out to heaven. It is the same indifference that facilitated Habtom Zarhum’s lynch and that has enabled their detention in Holot for almost two years now. This indifference did not materialize out of thin air. We haven’t always been devoid of compassion. In 2007, the press and public at large referred to asylum seekers from Darfur as “refugees” and they received a very different kind of treatment. The indifference and hatred we see today are the product of years-long instigation and scare-mongering, of re-casting asylum seekers as “infiltrators” and their inclusion under a law originally designed for national security threats. It is top-down xenophobia, orchestrated by decision-makers.

The time is now ripe for other solutions, solutions based on compassion, and appropriate and effective policy. Israel cannot detain the entire asylum seeking community currently living in Israel, roughly 45,000 people. Nor can it deport them – otherwise there would be no need to invest millions in their detention and secret arrangements for their departure. The present solutions are costly, ineffective and socially dangerous. Instead of a detention-and-despair kind of policy, suitable alternatives must be found, alternatives that benefit all communities living in Israel. Accordingly, for example, the hundreds of millions of shekels being spent each year to detail asylum seekers could be redirected for the benefit of the underserved residents of south Tel Aviv’s neighborhoods. Asylum seekers should be given health insurance, to ease the burden placed on hospitals, and they must be allowed to work, to protect their own rights, but also to benefit the Israeli labor market. Regulated work should also lead to a natural dispersal of the asylum-seeking communities around Israel.

Anat Ovadia-Rosner is spokeswoman for the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants. This article was first published in Hebrew on Haokets. Translated from Hebrew by Noam Benishie.

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