+972 Magazine » News http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:48:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 A Month in Photos: Terror, police violence and the holy selfie http://972mag.com/a-month-in-photos-terror-police-violence-and-the-holy-selfie/102065/ http://972mag.com/a-month-in-photos-terror-police-violence-and-the-holy-selfie/102065/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:17:02 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=102065 Editors’ picks of the top photos from Palestine, Israel and beyond for the month of January. This month, terror attacks in France and Tel Aviv, Bedouin citizens of Israel protest against police violence, Israel’s election campaign gets into full swing, Hezbollah attacks the Israeli army on the Lebanese border and snow falls on the West Bank.

Photos: Oren Ziv, Keren Manor, Yotam Ronen, Ahmad al-Bazz, Faiz Abu-Rmeleh, Tess Schaflan / Activestills.org

Edit: Anka Mirkin, Shiraz Grinbaum / Activestills.org

Palestinian women use their cell phone to photograph themselves outside Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's old city, January 9, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinian women use their cell phone to take a selfie outside Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, January 9, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Relatives and members of the Jewish Ethiopian community protest during a march held in memory of Yosef Salamsa, January 4, 2015. Salamsa took his own life after alleged police harassment. This was the first day of a 2-day march from Binyamina town in the north of Israel to Jerusalem.

Relatives and members of the Jewish Ethiopian community protest during a march held in memory of Yosef Salamsa, January 4, 2015. Salamsa took his own life after alleged police harassment. This was the first day of a two-day march from the town of Binyamina, in Israel’s north, to Jerusalem.

A Palestinian worker, holding Israeli work permit, around a fire after crossing the Eyal checkpoint, Between the West Bank city of Qalqilya and Israel, January 4, 2015. Activestills.org

A Palestinian worker, holding Israeli work permit, around a fire after crossing the Eyal checkpoint, Between the West Bank city of Qalqilya and Israel, January 4, 2015. Activestills.org

Palestinian youth stand around a burning tire during the weekly protest against the occupation in the West Bank village of Kfar Qaddum, January 9, 2015. Activestills.org

Palestinian youth stand around a burning tire during the weekly protest against the occupation in the West Bank village of Kfar Qaddum, January 9, 2015. Activestills.org

Israeli activists protest against the harsh conditions in Holot Prison, after wardens at the facility prohibited the detainees from bringing in heaters in the dead of winter Tel Aviv January 10, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli activists in Tel Aviv protest against harsh conditions in Holot Prison for African asylum seekers, after wardens at the facility prohibited the detainees from bringing in heaters in the dead of winter, January 10, 2015. After an emergency court petition, prison authorities promised to install heating in the detainees’ living quarters. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Youth march in downtown Boston, MA, on January 12, 2015. The march was organized as part of a series of actions responding to recent events in Ferguson, MO and around the USA of racial profiling and other mistreatment by police of people of colour. (photo: Activestills.org)

Youth march in downtown Boston, MA, on January 12, 2015. The march was organized as part of a series of actions responding to recent events in Ferguson, MO and around the U.S. of racial profiling and other mistreatment by police of people of color. (photo: Activestills.org)

Mourners carry placards bearing portraits of the dead as they gather at a cemetery in Jerusalem during the funeral of four Jews killed in an Islamist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris last week, January 13, 2015. Crowds of mourners attended the funeral of Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham, Francois-Michel Saada and Yoav Hattab after their bodies were flown to Israel from France. (photo: Activestills.org)

Mourners carry placards bearing portraits of the dead as they gather at a cemetery in Jerusalem during the funeral of four Jews killed in an Islamist terror attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris last week, January 13, 2015. Crowds of mourners attended the funeral of Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham, Francois-Michel Saada and Yoav Hattab after their bodies were flown to Israel from France. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Ronen Shoval, a candidate of the Habeit Hayehudi Party, pleads with an LGTBQ activist to leave the room where he is trying to conduct an election conference, Tel Aviv University, Januay 12, 2015. The activists, alongside public housing activists, disrupted the conference in protest of the racist and discriminatory rhetoric expressed by members of the party. (photo: Activestills.org)

Ronen Shoval, founder of right-wing nationalist group Im Tirzu, and a candidate of the right-wing Jewish Home party, pleads with an LGTBQ activist to leave the room where he is trying to conduct an election conference, Tel Aviv University, January 12, 2015. The activists, together with public housing activists, disrupted the conference in protest of the racist and discriminatory rhetoric expressed by members of the party. (photo: Activestills.org)

Michael Ben Ari, leader of Otzma Yehudit nationalist party is accompanied by Benzi Gopstein, head of the nationalist group Lehava, to walk in Jerusalem's Mahane Yeuda market during an election campaign, January 16, 2015.(photo: Activestills.org)

Michael Ben-Ari, leader of Otzma Yehudit right-wing nationalist party is accompanied by Benzi Gopstein, head of the racist nationalist group Lehava whose members have been connected to violent attacks, walking through Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market during an election campaign event, January 16, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

A demolished house in a Bedouin Jahalin community, E1 area, West Bank, January 14, 2015. Israeli authorities demolished houses and structures in the E1 as part of plan to displace the Bedouin community in the area by force. (photo: Activestills.org)

A demolished house in a Bedouin Jahalin community, E1 area, West Bank, January 14, 2015. Israeli authorities demolished houses and structures in the E1 as part of plan to forcefully displace the Bedouin community in the area. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Ayman Odeh is seen minutes after he was elected to lead Hadash Party in the up-coming March 2015 elections, Nezereth, January 17, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Ayman Odeh is seen minutes after he was elected to lead Hadash Party in the up-coming March 2015 elections, Nazareth, January 17, 2015. Days later, four Arab parties, including Hadash, agreed to run on a joint slate, which Odeh will head. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Tear gas clouds cover the cemetery of Rahat as Israeli police that burst onto the premises during the funeral of Sami al-Jaar dispersed the participants, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat last week. During the clashes that followed his funeral, Sami Ziadna, 42, suffocated to death from tear gas inhalation and twenty-two participants were injured. Southern district police commander admitted there was an agreement that no policemen were allowed to enter the cemetery during the funeral. (photo: Activestills.org)

Tear gas clouds cover the cemetery of Rahat as Israeli police attempt to break up protests following the funeral of Sami al-Ja’ar, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. Sami al-Ja’ar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat last week. During the clashes that followed his funeral, Sami Ziadna, 42, died from tear gas inhalation and 22 participants were injured. Southern district police commander admitted there was an agreement that no policemen were allowed to enter the cemetery during the funeral. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

An injured man, who was shot in the face, sits on the ground in the cemetery of Rahat after Israeli police dispersed those attending the funeral of Sami al-Jaar, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat last week. During the clashes that followed his funeral, Sami Ziadna, 42, suffocated to death from tear gas inhalation and twenty-two participants were injured. Southern district police commander admitted there was an agreement that no policemen were allowed to enter the cemetery during the funeral. (photo: Activestills.org)

An injured man who was struck  in the face with a projectile, sits on the ground in the cemetery of Rahat after Israeli police dispersed those attending the funeral of Sami al-Jaar, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat last week. During the clashes that followed his funeral, Sami Ziadna, 42, died of tear gas inhalation and 22 participants were injured. Southern district police commander admitted there was an agreement that no policemen were allowed to enter the cemetery during the funeral. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Khaled, the father of Sami al-Jaar, sits in a mourning tent before his son's funeral, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat last week. Thousands participated in his funeral, chanting slogans protesting the police's use of force against Arab citizens of Israel. (photo: Activestills.org)

Khaled, the father of Sami al-Ja’ar, sits in a mourning tent before his son’s funeral, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat last week. Thousands participated in his funeral, chanting slogans protesting the police’s use of force against Arab citizens of Israel. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Talal Al-Krenawi, the mayor of the Bedouin town of Rahat, displays the ammunition used by the Israeli police during clashes yesterday, on January 19, 2015.  Sami Zayadna, 42, was killed during clashes that irrupted when a police car bursted into a closed area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held the following day.  Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. Activestills.org

Talal Al-Krenawi, the mayor of the Bedouin town of Rahat, displays the ammunition used by the Israeli police during clashes yesterday, on January 19, 2015. Sami Zayadna, 42, was killed during clashes that irrupted when a police car bursted into a closed area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held the following day. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. Activestills.org

Bedouins pray near the body of Sami Ziadna, 42, during his funeral in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat, on January 19, 2015. Sami Zayadna was killed during clashes that erupted when a police car burst into the area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. (photo: Activestills.org)

Bedouin men pray near the body of Sami Ziadna, 42, during his funeral in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat, on January 19, 2015. Sami Zayadna was killed during clashes that erupted when a police car burst into the area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Relatives of of Sami Ziadna, 42, mourn during his funeral in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat on January 19, 2015. Sami Zayadna was killed during clashes that erupted when a police car burst into the area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. (photo: Activestills.org)

Relatives of of Sami Ziadna, 42, mourn during his funeral in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat on January 19, 2015. Sami Zayadna was killed during clashes that erupted when a police car burst into the area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Bedouins take part in a march at the southern Bedouin city of Rahat, condemning the death of two residents of the town at the hands of the police, Negev Desert, January 20, 2015. The protesters marched from the house of al-Jaar family to Zayadna's house. Sami Zayadna was killed during clashes that erupted when a police car burst into the area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. Leaders of Arab citizens in Israel (1.7 million), declared a general strike in protest of recent events. (photo: Activestills.org)

Bedouin take part in a march at the southern city of Rahat, condemning the death of two residents of the town at the hands of the police, Negev Desert, January 20, 2015. The protesters marched from the house of al-Jaar family to Zayadna’s house. Sami Zayadna was killed during clashes that erupted when a police car burst into the area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. Leaders of Arab citizens in Israel (1.7 million people), declared a general strike in protest of recent events. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Israeli medics treat a Palestinian man on a gurney after he stabbed and wounded at least 10 passengers in an attack on a bus in Tel Aviv, January 21, 2015. The attacker struck in the morning rush hour in the center of Israel’s commercial capital before being shot by a passing prison service officer. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Israeli medics treat a victim of a stabbing attack on a bus in Tel Aviv that left at least 10 people wounded, January 21, 2015. The attacker, a Palestinian from the West Bank, struck in the morning rush hour in the center of Israel’s commercial capital before being shot by a passing prison service officer. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Right-wing activists taking part in the election campaign of Otzma Yehudit political party are countered by left-wing activists that came to protest the party's fascist and racist agenda, Tel-Aviv's Ha'Carmel market, January 23, 2015. Police pushed away the anti-fascist activists, separating between the two groups, allowing the right-wing activists to continue on their march. (photo: Activestills.org)

Right-wing activists taking part in the election campaign of Otzma Yehudit political party are countered by left-wing activists that came to protest what they termed the party’s fascist and racist agenda, Tel-Aviv’s Ha’Carmel market, January 23, 2015. Police pushed away the anti-fascist activists, separating the two groups, allowing the right-wing activists to continue on their march. (photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinians protest in solidarity with Malak Khatib, a 14-year-old Palestinians girl, who is imprisoned in Israel, Nablus, West Bank, January 27, 2015. Al-Khatib, from Beiteen village near Ramallah, was taken prisoner on December 31, 2014, and was subjected to interrogation and harsh treatment without legal representation. On January 22, she was sentenced to two months in prison and her family was fined 6,000 shekels ($1,523). At the end of 2014, there were 197 children imprisoned by Israel. (photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinians protest in solidarity with Malak Khatib, a 14-year-old Palestinian girl, who is imprisoned in Israel, Nablus, West Bank, January 27, 2015. Al-Khatib, from the Beiteen village near Ramallah, was arrested on December 31, 2014, and was subjected to interrogation and harsh treatment without legal representation. On January 22, she was sentenced to two months in prison and her family was fined NIS 6,000 ($1,523). At the end of 2014, there were 197 children imprisoned by Israel. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more on children under occupation here.

Israeli workers from Vaporjet factory in the southern city of Ofakim strike and protest outside the factory, Negev Desert, January 25, 2015. The workers are holding a strike for over a week now, calling on the management to improve their working conditions and salaries. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli workers from the Vaporjet factory in the southern city of Ofakim strike and protest outside the factory, Negev Desert, January 25, 2015. The workers have been striking for over a week now, calling on management to improve their working conditions and salaries. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli animal rights activists protest outside Hod Hefer Slaughterhouse, near the town of Hadera, demanding the closing of the facility, January 26, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli animal rights activists protest outside Hod Hefer Slaughterhouse, near the town of Hadera, demanding the closure of the facility, January 26, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers stand next to a burned-out vehicle loaded onto the back of a truck in the outskirts of the divided village of Ghajar after it was removed from the seen of a Hezbollah missile attack along the Israel-Lebanon border, January 28, 2015. A Hezbollah missile attack killed two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded with air and ground strikes on southern Lebanon, killing a UN peacekeeper. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers stand next to a burned-out vehicle that has been loaded onto the back of a truck on the outskirts of the village of Ghajar, which is half in Israel and half in Lebanon. The vehicle is one of two that were hit by anti-tank missiles fired from Lebanon by Hezbollah, January 28, 2015. Israel responded with air and ground strikes on southern Lebanon, killing a UN peacekeeper. The attack came in retaliation for Israel’s assassination of a Hezbollah commander and an Iranian general in Syria a week earlier. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Palestinian scouts play music during a ceremony commemorating the birth of Prophet Mohammed, a holiday known in Arabic as Mawlid al-Nabawi, next to the Dome of the Rock in Al Aqsa compound in Jerusalem's old city, January 3, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinian scouts march and play music during a ceremony commemorating the birth of Prophet Mohammed, a holiday known in Arabic as Mawlid al-Nabawi, next to the Dome of the Rock in Al Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, January 3, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Public housing activists protest in front of former Minister of Finance, Yair Lapid, for his part in the erosion of welfare infrastructure, January 28, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Public housing activists in front of former Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s home, protesting his part in the erosion of welfare and social infrastructure in Israel, January 28, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org) For +972′s election coverage, click here.

A Palestinian girl plays during a snow storm, West Bank, on January 10, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

A Palestinian girl plays during a snow storm, West Bank, on January 10, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

]]>
http://972mag.com/a-month-in-photos-terror-police-violence-and-the-holy-selfie/102065/feed/ 2
The Israeli government’s election gift to West Bank settlers http://972mag.com/the-israeli-governments-election-gift-to-west-bank-settlers/102057/ http://972mag.com/the-israeli-governments-election-gift-to-west-bank-settlers/102057/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:26:04 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=102057 Netanyahu tells supporters at a settlement campaign event that Israel will continue to build in the West Bank, as his Likud party competes with more hawkish parties for settler votes. Erekat calls for boycott, divestment in response.

Construction of illegal settlement units at 'Elkana,' on the lands of the West Bank village of Masha, near Salfit, July 06, 2013. (Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Construction of illegal settlement units at ‘Elkana,’ on the lands of the West Bank village of Masha, near Salfit, July 06, 2013. The latest construction tender calls for 156 new housing units in the settlement. (Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Less than a month and a half before general elections, the Israeli government published tenders for 430 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank on Friday.

The move could be interpreted as a gift of sorts to the right-wing electorate as the ruling Likud party fights for votes with the further-right Jewish Home party headed by Naftali Bennett. While Netanyahu has ruled out a withdrawal from the West Bank, which would necessarily preclude Palestinian statehood. Other prominent members of the Likud and the entire Jewish Home party outright oppose a two-state solution.

The settlement construction tenders are issued via the Housing and Construction Ministry, headed by Minister Uri Ariel of Jewish Home.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue settlement construction this week, speaking to young Likud supporters in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

“We will not hesitate to stand up and say: we are here, we are staying here, we will build here and cultivate here,” Netanyahu said. “Ariel is a part of the State of Israel, that’s the way it was and that’s how it will be.”

The prime minister also ruled out handing over the central West Bank hill country to the Palestinians, warning of a “second Hamasastan.” Netanyahu put his refusal to withdraw from the West Bank in even clearer terms in July. “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan,” he said.

The plans include new construction in the settlements of Adam, Elkana, Alfei Menace and Kiryat Arba, according to AFP.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is scheduled to attend a dedication ceremony Monday for a new community center in the settlement of Kiryat Arba, which abuts the Palestinian city of Hebron and the Jewish settlement inside the city. Rivlin is a Likud veteran but has put great effort to stay above party politics since assuming the presidency.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the latest settlement announcement “unsurprising when viewed in the context of the culture of impunity granted to Israel by the international community.”

Erekat called on the international community to hold Israel accountable, saying the world should “ban all settlement products and divest from companies and institutions linked directly or indirectly with the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies.”

Related:
Israeli government votes to support annexing West Bank settlements
The occupation will last forever, Netanyahu clarifies
Palestinian minister dies after reportedly struck by Israeli troops

Newsletter banner 6 -540

]]>
http://972mag.com/the-israeli-governments-election-gift-to-west-bank-settlers/102057/feed/ 1
Don’t call her the ‘Russian candidate’: Meet Ksenia Svetlova http://972mag.com/dont-call-her-the-russian-candidate-meet-ksenia-svetlova/102033/ http://972mag.com/dont-call-her-the-russian-candidate-meet-ksenia-svetlova/102033/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 19:20:37 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=102033 An interview with the latest addition to Tzipi Livni’s ‘Zionist Camp,’ on the heavy price Israel will pay if it can’t solve the Palestinian conflict, how much Russian and Mizrahi immigrants have in common, and whether the Labor/Livni list will consider forming a new government with Netanyahu.

Ksneia Svetlova with Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni (Photo by Louisa Green)

Ksenia Svetlova with Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni (Photo by Louisa Green)

In the Israeli electoral system, party heads often times reserve spots on their parliamentary slates for candidates of their choosing — usually representing geographic regions, people of certain ethnic origins or for women.

It would be a big mistake to reduce Ksenia Svetlova to the “Russian candidate” of the Zionist Camp, the joint list comprised of the Labor party and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua. Svetlova is a veteran field reporter, very eloquent, a senior Arab world analyst for Israel’s Russian-language Channel 9 and regularly writes for a long list of distinguished international publications.

Svetlova is more knowledgable about Palestinian society and politics than most of the people with whom she is heading into the Knesset, is a doctoral candidate in Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University, speaks four languages, and is the latest in a string of journalists who are making the jump to politics.

Speaking with +972’s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call, Svetlova explains why she believes Tzipi Livni still has the best chance to make peace, what to do with settlement blocs and the price Israel will pay if it doesn’t make peace.

The — likely — future Knesset member discusses how the experience of Russian immigrants to Israel is similar to Jews from Arab countries, reveals her favorite Arab singer and the phenomenon of journalists moving into politics.

Is it strange for you to be on the other side?

It is definitely strange, like starting anything new. I held the microphone on the other side of the camera for so long, so yes, it’s very strange. But I didn’t flinch, it’s a new era in my life. Anyway, journalism will always be there, I hope. It won’t disappear.

What do you think about the trend of journalists going into politics?

It’s something that’s always happened; we know that from French and British politics. After you cover things for so long and criticize what others are doing, it’s very tempting to make the jump and do it yourself.

It’s an expression of despair about the current situation. It would have been very easy for me to continue doing what I was doing up until now. I’m well-known enough, I write for various international media outlets; I’m not dependent on my job for financial reasons or anything else — the opposite. But this is such a critical situation, a situation in which most of my friends who think of themselves as Zionists and served here — both Israeli-born and immigrants — are thinking of emigrating. That’s a huge problem that I never thought we would have to deal with. But I never really wanted to be a politician; I dreamed of being a journalist since I was eight years old.

Is the ‘Zionist Camp’ really the place where your politics and values are?

Yes. However, I have no delusions. It’s a large party and like in any large political party there are drawbacks, things that aren’t done properly, especially in relation to immigrants. As an immigrant, there are things that make my heart skip a beat. In the early 1990s, when we were arriving, there was a campaign going on against the immigration [of Soviet Jewry]: they said they’re all drug addicts, whores, etc., and [former Labor Minister] Ora Namir who sent my parents’ generation to go work picking oranges. But things are changing.

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

What will be your main priority as a Knesset member?

First we’ll have to see what our position is in the next Knesset. I hope that we form the next government, in which case we’ll have more opportunities. But there is also no shortage of important things to do from the opposition.

One of the most important things related to my field of interest is advancing the peace process. We are stuck, and it’s not fair to our people or to the other nation that lives here. If we don’t resolve this conflict we will continue to pay very heavy political, security and economic price.

Tzipi Livni led negotiations with the Palestinians, and failed. What reason is there to assume that this time it will be different?

She ran the negotiations in a government that had a problem with her from the very beginning. It is a process that the entire political echelon must stand behind. It’s not a job for one woman, no matter how successful she is. I hear from the Palestinians that they very much appreciated her, but it’s not a one-man game. Just like soccer, you need an entire team, and now that team exists.

Do you think the Palestinians would be willing to give Tzipi Livni another chance?

I’m sure of it. It’s a fact that they said they will wait until after Israel’s elections to put forth the Arab-Palestinian UN resolution. They wouldn’t be waiting if they didn’t think there would be somebody to talk to on the Israeli side after the elections. It’s true that there is a lot of despondency and skepticism on both sides, but the status quo is beginning to break and we haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg. It can get a whole lot worse.

There is worrisome radicalization taking place on both sides. A little over a week ago I was in Ramallah and I saw that they recently dedicated Yahya Ayyash Square; a new city square that Abu Mazen named after a Hamas figure. Also in Egypt there is a culture of hatred. We are extolling [Egyptian President] al-Sisi because he is shutting down Hamas’ tunnels — acting on his own interests, by the way, not ours — but at every book fair there are entire shelves of hate-filled books about Israel and Judaism. Does that threaten our peace treaty with Egypt? No. There was never normalization with Egypt, but we have a peace deal that is still standing.

Ksneia Svetlova (Photo by Yasmin Yaira)

Ksenia Svetlova (Photo by Yasmin Yaira)

What are the parameters for ending the conflict, in your view?

Borders are first. A state must have clear and accepted borders that it can defend, both militarily and diplomatically.

Settlement blocs?

I believe that the large settlement blocs will remain under our control.

Including East Jerusalem?

No. There is a lot of “East Jerusalem,” but there are also a lot of layers. Jerusalem was never a city that stretched all the way from Ramallah in the north to Ma’ale Adumim in the south. That’s not East Jerusalem. The Shuafat Refugee Camp is east of Jerusalem, it’s not East Jerusalem.

Do you think it’s wise to be building in the settlement blocs when there aren’t negotiations taking place?

There are people whom the state sent to live there, and therefore, we have a responsibility to them. I know a lot of people, especially new immigrants, who didn’t even know they were beyond the Green Line when they arrived. So we shouldn’t build schools for them? We shouldn’t build them kindergartens? I think the Palestinians also understand the difference between establishing new geographically strategic settlements and building inside settlement blocs that will in any case remain inside the State of Israel.

You are one of very few women who knows the Palestinians better than most of the other candidates in the party, and yet, the slot for a “security expert” is being filled by a man. Is that not frustrating?

On that topic, as opposed to many other issues which I need to learn, like social issues, I absolutely know what I am talking about and I have clear views. On that issue I will certainly make my voice heard; I will have access to the decision makers and I will make sure that I am heard.

How do you think your political views will be received by immigrants from the former Soviet Union?

It’s fair to assume that they will be met with mixed feelings, just like when I expressed them in my coverage and research on the Arab world. But I think that there are more and more people, especially in the younger generations, who are more receptive.

When I went to the south Hebron Hills and filmed Palestinians living without running water in caves because they live in a military firing zone, and then how the children in [the settlement of] Susya have swimming pools, they accused me of putting out left-wing propaganda. But that’s the reality. One of the problems is that there is simply a lack of information. And there are other reasons, of course, like the rejection of socialism, despite the fact that the Labor party has not been socialist for a long time. None of that, however, stopped the Russian population from voting for Yitzhak Rabin in 1992.

The Russian immigrants arrived at a sensitive moment, when everything appeared to begin, and when it all ended. The first checkpoints in the West Bank were erected in 1992, and already in 1994, the first bus bombings began. These are people who came from a relatively stable place and suddenly found themselves in a world where buses explode every day. And they didn’t know what it was like here before that, they didn’t experience the shaky coexistence that preceded that period. They were told that there was nothing here before 1948. That creates fear.

Maybe they didn’t meet Palestinians but they did meet Mizrahi Jews. The mass immigration of Russians was viewed as a threat by many Mizrahi Jews in Israel’s peripheral communities.

In every society, immigration brings out deep-rooted fears because it threatens your place in society. It’s a shame that it didn’t happen earlier, but I see a lot of initiatives and cooperation taking place. I meet with Prof. Shmuel Moreh every two weeks — we are working together to get UNESCO to preserve Jewish sites in Arab countries.

Russian immigrants and Mizrahis have a lot in common despite attempts to turn them against each other: the difficulty of immigration, high levels of poverty, and being stripped of dignity rooted in the cultures we left behind. Where is is all that in Israeli school books? It’s not. Why should we only learn about the Second Aliya (of European Jews).

It’s easier today to be more insistent about preserving your traditions. I, for instance, speak to my children in Russian. It’s important to me that they speak the language. It drives me crazy when I hear about [Jewish Mizrahi immigrants] who were forbidden from speaking Arabic. Why? We live in the Middle East, it’s the language! Or people who were laughed at when they played Farid al-Atrash. It’s beautiful! I prefer Abdel Halim Hafez, but that’s a matter of taste. The attempts to catalogue it as an inferior culture is the same thing they tried to do with the Russians. In Russia, my mother wasn’t able to find work because her passport said she was Jewish. And when we got here we were labeled as Russians, with all of the negative connotations.

And now you find yourself on an election list with the Labor party, the descendants of the Mapai party, which nursed the idea of an Israeli melting pot that was largely responsible for cultural erasure. Do you feel comfortable with them?

Firstly, it’s not the party of Ashkenazi purity. It’s much more diverse. Labor is not the same Labor, just like Likud isn’t the same Likud of Menachem Begin.

What is the first proposed law you would want to work on?

We spoke mostly about issues of security, but I am very interested in dealing with middle-aged immigrants to Israel, regardless of their country of origin, who haven’t been able to retire. These are people who worked every day here, who worked their whole lives in their countries of origin, and they cannot survive on the minuscule pension payments they receive. People are being forced to choose between buying medication and paying their electric bill. I would want to start there, and I believe that we’ll find partners in other parties.

Speaking of partners: Forming a coalition with Netanyahu, yes or no?

I don’t believe that the leaders of the Zionist Camp believe in that, and I hope we won’t need to.

They haven’t ruled out the possibility.

They didn’t rule it out, but the feeling is that we won’t need to. I personally don’t believe that we can move forward together.

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

]]>
http://972mag.com/dont-call-her-the-russian-candidate-meet-ksenia-svetlova/102033/feed/ 7
American teen beaten by Israeli police is cleared of wrongdoing http://972mag.com/american-teen-beaten-by-israeli-police-is-cleared-of-wrongdoing/101988/ http://972mag.com/american-teen-beaten-by-israeli-police-is-cleared-of-wrongdoing/101988/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:20:08 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101988 The cousin of Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s videotaped beating by Israeli police in Jerusalem led to widespread outrage. He had been arrested and accused of participating in riots.

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)

Palestinian-American 15-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir, whose severe beating by Israeli police while he was in custody last summer was caught on video, has been cleared of all wrongdoing in Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.

Following his beating, the American citizen was arrested and held under house arrest for nearly two weeks before being permitted to return home to Florida.

The incident took place after Tariq’s cousin, 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was burned alive and murdered by Jewish extremists in a Jerusalem-area forest. Protests and heavy clashes took place in East Jerusalem after Muhammad’s murder.

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.

The American Consulate in Jerusalem told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that Tariq has been cleared of all wrongdoing and is free to return to Israel to visit his family in occupied East Jerusalem.

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 him while the accused officer is seen kicking and punching him 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.

In September, one of the police officers was criminally 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 at the time, he thinks the other two 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.

Israel police violence has taken the lives of at least three Arab citizens in recent months, leading to significant protests throughout the country. A Bedouin men was shot to death by Israeli police during a raid earlier this month, and another Bedouin man was killed during clashes after his funeral. In November, police shot in the back a 22-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel while he was fleeing.

Matt Surrusco contributed to this report.

Related:
PHOTOS: Bedouin protest deadly police shootings in Israel
Kafr Kanna isn’t Ferguson, it’s much worse

 

]]>
http://972mag.com/american-teen-beaten-by-israeli-police-is-cleared-of-wrongdoing/101988/feed/ 1
How to stop Palestinians unionizing: Security, security, security http://972mag.com/how-to-stop-palestinians-unionizing-security-security-security/101949/ http://972mag.com/how-to-stop-palestinians-unionizing-security-security-security/101949/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:59:49 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101949 When Palestinian workers at the Tzarfati garage in the West Bank settlement of Mishor Adumim unionized, management made up criminal accusations against the Palestinian chairman of the workers’ committee, exploiting the hostile war-time environment at the time. Management brought in the army, the police, and sent him to military court — resulting in the revocation of his work permit.

By Niv Hachlili / ‘The Hottest Place in Hell

Hatem Abu Ziadeh (Photo courtesy of WAC-MAAN)

Hatem Abu Ziadeh (Photo courtesy of WAC-MAAN)

It’s seven o’clock on a Thursday evening and Hatem Abu Ziadeh sits behind the wheel of the taxi he drives to support his family. He’s been on the go since early morning, ferrying passengers on the winding roads between Ramallah and the surrounding villages.

Abu Ziadeh is from Jibiya, a village near Bir Zeit, and is the proud father of four sons and two daughters. For 17 years he was employed as a mechanic at the Tzarfati garage in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone. But last summer he was dismissed following a unionizing drive which he led together with the independent Trade Union Center WAC-MAAN.

Ostensibly, this is just another story, becoming increasingly common, of workers standing up and demanding their legal rights. However, unlike organizing initiatives within the “Green Line”, the fact that this case involves Palestinian workers employed in a Jewish settlement means it has unique characteristics.

A particularly worrying aspect of Abu Ziadeh’s story is not the ease with which the employer violates labor laws and the rights of Palestinian workers – such cases are commonplace. What makes this case important is the way it exposes how official state bodies grant assistance, both direct and indirect, to employers who violate employees’ basic rights.

Why are you raking up the past?

The organizing at Tzarfati began in June 2013. Some 40 Palestinians joined WAC-MAAN and a letter in their name was sent to the employer, asking that a general workers’ assembly be held. In July of that year, elections were held for the workers’ committee, and Abu Ziadeh, who had been instrumental in the unionizing efforts, was elected as chair.

“Before the organizing,” Abu Ziadeh said, “Tzarfati did whatever he felt like. He said we were employed according to Jordanian law, and that he wasn’t obliged to pay us minimum wage. People would get 3,000 shekels a month, without vacations, without pension contributions, without national insurance, nothing. Sometimes for example there would be accidents on the job which meant some workers couldn’t work for whole days, even weeks. But nobody paid them for the days they lay in hospital or at home. Only when Tzarfati understood we were organizing and that he was being watched – suddenly things changed.”

In a decision from December 2014, the regional labor court stated explicitly that from July 2013 WAC-MAAN and the committee members had been in contact with the garage management, and that “nobody can deny that during that year of talks changes were made to the wages and employment terms of the workers of the respondent [Tzarfati garage – N.H.], including updating the workers’ wages and transport payments, and settling bereavement, vacation, sickness, religious holidays and training payments. Wage slips were issued, and more.”

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)

The court also emphasized that it was not convinced by Tzarfati’s claim that he had acted to promote his workers’ rights regardless of WAC-MAAN’s activities. The court noted that both sides agree that they had held talks during that year, and this had led to Tzarfati’s concern over applicable laws. As the court put it, “The respondent’s claim that the improvement in employment terms had no connection with the claimant’s demands [i.e., the demands of WAC-MAAN – N.H.] does not sit well with the facts.”

To be given minimum wage with a legal wage slip after years of employment was indeed an achievement for the workers, but regarding other fundamental issues the garage refused to seek a solution.

Tzarfati claims it is now doing everything according to the law,” said WAC-MAAN’s National Director Assaf Adiv, “but as soon as the pay of non-skilled workers was raised to minimum wage, a third of the workers who had organized, including skilled workers, still received the same minimum wage. Then another question arose regarding the wage that should be paid according to the collective agreement signed by the Israel Garage Association, of which Tzarfati claims it is a member. The Association has an agreement which determines wage scale, levels of professionalism, wage increases, and seniority. All the things Tzarfati didn’t deal with.”

However, the main point of contention concerns past debts. A large number of the workers have been employed at the garage for a long time, some more than 20 years, but minimum wage and other benefits determined by law have been paid only since 2013, without reference to past years in which they were not paid. Such behavior appears in an even more serious light considering that Tzarfati was one of the respondents in the 2007 High Court case (the “Givat-Zeev” case). This ruling determined that Israeli labor law is applicable to Palestinians employed in settlements, and that they are entitled to minimum wage and peripheral benefits in keeping with Israeli labor law. Despite this, between 2007 and 2013, the garage ignored the court ruling and continued to avoid paying minimum wage and other benefits.

No enforcement

This raises another more worrying question, with far-reaching implications, concerning the tens of thousands of Palestinians employed by Israelis in terrible and sometimes dangerous conditions, as Idan Landau described in a report for “Hamakom” on the Nitzanei Shalom industrial zone. Why did the authorities not intervene to enforce the law and deal with violations? This is not just an issue that concerns the Regulation and Enforcement Administration of the Economics Ministry, but also falls within the responsibility of the Population and Immigration Authority.

In theory, inspectors from the Regulation and Enforcement Administration are supposed to ensure that workers received their rights. In addition, because the employment of Palestinians is subject to registration and work permits, the Payments Division of the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority is responsible for “regulating the employment of Palestinian workers including collecting and paying wages and peripheral benefits.” However, nothing was done for the workers, who for many years had put in six days a week for some 3,000 shekels per month without protection in case of on-the-job accidents or illness.

Even today, years after the High Court ruling, the Justice Ministry is struggling to “diminish the disparities in the field of labor law between workers from the Judea and Samaria region [the West Bank] and workers in Israel, in the framework of security legislation.”

The Economics Ministry explained in response that “The High Court Givat-Zeev case [the 2007 ruling] created a cause of action for a Palestinian worker to submit claims against his Israeli employer. However, it did not grant enforcement authority; it did not rule in favor of the sweeping application of aspects of labor law which are criminal or grant enforcement authority – not even the authority to impose monetary sanctions… The disparity this creates is indeed a distortion. This distortion is one of the reasons why the government and army are making increased efforts to apply all labor law to these areas, through security legislation applicable to Judea and Samaria. This work [legislation] is prepared and almost completed, but the upcoming elections have delayed it. Its completion and the signing of an order will be done, it seems, when the new government has been formed.”

What the official bodies are actually saying is that no decision on this issue has been made by the government. Even if a decision will be taken, it is not clear how it will change the current situation in which there is ostensibly minimal protection for workers (in the form of the minimum wage) but in practice there is no enforcement.

There’s a war? Fire him

Meanwhile, negotiations between the workers and the Zarfati garage proceeded at snail’s pace. About once every two months the sides met, and the workers, together with WAC-MAAN representatives, tried to reach an understanding on wage issues and past debts.

Then last July, Operation Protective Edge began and Zarfati decided the time had come to dismiss Abu Ziadeh and step up the pressure on the workers.

On July 21, Abu Ziadeh – who during 17 years of working at the garage had never had any claims leveled against him, whether security-related or work-related – was summoned for pre-dismissal hearings. In the letter he received, the reason given for the hearing was “changes to the firm’s employment set-up and your unsuitability to the firm’s needs.” WAC-MAAN quickly submitted an appeal at the labor court against the dismissal of the workers’ committee chair.

Abu Ziadeh displays his summons. (Courtesy of WAC-MAAN)

Abu Ziadeh displays his summons. (Courtesy of WAC-MAAN)

In the court hearing held a week later (on July 27), the garage owner, Morris Tzarfati, made completely new claims against Abu Ziadeh which were quite marvelously in keeping with the public mood during the days of war. Tzarfati told the court that the dismissal decision was taken because Abu Ziadeh had “participated in political demonstrations, he is an extreme leftwing activist who called for the end of the Israeli occupation, threatened other workers” and even “sabotaged a military vehicle which was being repaired at the garage” some two weeks earlier.

Since Tzarfati’s claims were not supported by any documentation and were not referred to in the letter summoning him to the dismissal hearing, but were raised out of the blue in court, the judge granted Tzarfati 72 hours to come up with evidence for his claims, and ruled that if no such evidence were forthcoming the garage would have to hold a hearing as required by law. The appeal submitted to the High Court claimed that “Contrary to what they said during the court proceedings, the Tzarfati managers did not contact the security services,” and noted that it was only a day after the court hearing that the garage manager submitted a complaint with the Maaleh Adumim police against Abu Ziadeh, which included the accusations that they had raised at court.

The complaint to the police led to a snowballing bureaucratic process. Three days later Abu Ziadeh came to the Maaleh Adumim police station, at their request, to be questioned. He told the investigator that he had worked for 17 years at the garage and had never had any complaints leveled against him, and that these accusations had been fabricated by the garage management. At the end of the questioning, he was told to deposit 1000 shekels as guarantee; he was summoned to a hearing at the Ofer military court, near Ramallah, in April 2015, and his work permit was confiscated.

This compelled WAC-MAAN to wage a struggle on two fronts – one in the labor court with assistance from lawyers with expertise in such cases, and another with the police and the Civil Administration, with assistance from other lawyers, in order to fend off the accusations and enable Abu Ziadeh to retrieve his work permit.

The appeal submitted by Atty. Moran Savurai, who is representing WAC-MAAN in this case, noted that “it is important to emphasize that apart from the accusation of sabotage of a military vehicle, about which a complaint was filed with the police, with no evidence at all, regarding the other accusations about political activity in support of Palestine and waving a Palestinian flag – which, by the way, are not violations of the law – no evidence has been submitted during either of the employer’s declarations at court or during the court summary.”

In parallel to the labor court case, in September 2014, Atty. Michal Pomerantz (from the Smadar Ben Natan law offices) submitted a request to the High Court to return Abu Ziadeh’s work permit. In the appeal, Pomerantz describes in detail her correspondence with the legal advisor for Judea and Samaria, the head of the Maaleh Adumim police station, and representatives of the Civil Administration between July and September 2014, in an attempt to try every possibility to get back the work permit and avoid the need to turn to the court – but all in vain.

On November 30, four months after Abu Ziadeh’s permit was confiscated and he lost his livelihood, the State Attorney’s office sent a laconic reply: “Following up on our conversation of 27 Nov. 2014, I wish to inform you that according to what the respondents have told me, the reason for the temporary suspension of the claimant [Hatem Abu Ziadeh] from entering Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria for work purposes has been removed.” In other words, from now on, there is no reason why the employer should not get a work permit for Abu Ziadeh.

Ten days later, a notice from the police was received, saying the file against Abu Ziadeh had been closed since no evidence had been found to try him. The appeal to the High Court had thus compelled the authorities to come up with answers, but Pomerantz explains that the time taken by the authorities to determine the untruth of the claims was problematic: “Even in this there is a deterrent message to workers: that even if the security issue is removed, they may find themselves unemployed for months. In other words, this too is a significant threat against the workers.”

Morris Tzarfati refused to talk to us or answer our questions, saying only, “I don’t want to address this issue in the media. It is being dealt with at court. I prefer to do so there.”

Mobilize the ordnance officer

In addition to the submission of the complaint, police officers from Maaleh Adumim came to the garage in August, brought the workers into the manager’s room, and interrogated them as to whether “someone from the workers’ committee had threatened them.”

The appeal to the High Court noted the dubious legality of this form of questioning, since workers could be expected to be wary of contradicting what their employer has said when they are being questioned at their place of employment. Pomerantz also notes that “WAC-MAAN submitted a complaint to the police and received no reply. There is something problematic here that creates an illegitimate situation of police intervention.”

And as if all this were not enough, last December the garage submitted two letters to the labor court, signed by Maj. Eli Elmakias, head of the external garages department in the Ordnance Corps. One letter was from August and the other, Tzarfati claimed, from December (the date on the second letter was illegible – N.H.). The letters concerned Abu Ziadeh’s employment and said, “Based on information we have, we ask that the Tzarfati garage does not permit the above worker to handle military vehicles… We are against permitting the worker to come into any contact with military vehicles being repaired at the garage, for fear of [his] causing damage to the vehicles… the worker was previously kept away…”

Pomerantz explains that “it is impossible to know if the ordnance officer who signed the letters knows that the police file has been closed. In a previous mail from July 2014 he wrote that he opposes the employment of the worker as long as there is a file open against him. Now the question must be asked, on what basis does he write what he writes, when it’s clear he cannot harm a person’s livelihood without factual evidence? Already a month ago we contacted the State Attorney and still haven’t received a reply, and a week ago we contacted the State Comptroller and the Defense Ministry.”

Almost six months have passed since Hatem Abu Ziadeh lost his work permit and with it his livelihood of 17 years, but he does not sound bitter.

Tzarfati thinks it won because I’m a taxi driver now,” he says. “But we have already won, the workers joined WAC-MAAN, and we will soon be granted the other rights we should have.” Even regarding his own situation he remains optimistic: “I believe I’ll get the permit back and go back to work.”

No response has been received as yet from the IDF or Israel Police.

Translated from Hebrew by Yonatan Preminger. This article first appeared here on the website ‘The Hottest Place in Hell. Read the original Hebrew here.

Related:
Risking jobs, Palestinian workers in West Bank settlement unionize
How do you stop Palestinians unionizing? Cancel their entry permits

]]>
http://972mag.com/how-to-stop-palestinians-unionizing-security-security-security/101949/feed/ 1
Israeli soldiers killed in Hezbollah retaliation attack http://972mag.com/israeli-soldiers-killed-in-hezbollah-retaliation-attack/101976/ http://972mag.com/israeli-soldiers-killed-in-hezbollah-retaliation-attack/101976/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:25:59 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101976 Two Israeli soldiers are killed in a cross-border attack on an Israeli patrol road with anti-tank missiles. A Spanish soldier serving with UNIFIL is reportedly killed by Israeli retaliatory shelling. Israeli politicians call for harsh response. Israel killed a Hezbollah commander a week earlier.

File photo of Israeli soldiers patrolling the northern border. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

File photo of Israeli soldiers patrolling the northern border. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Two Israeli soldiers were killed in a cross-border attack on the Lebanese border Wednesday morning, for Hezbollah quickly took responsibility. A Spanish soldier serving with UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, was killed in Israeli retaliatory shelling.

The border attack comes a week after Israel assassinated a Hezbollah commander and an Iranian general in the Quneitra area of the Golan Heights in Syria. In the past 24 hours, two rockets hit the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights and the IDF responded by striking Syrian military positions.

Read also: Air strike in Syria: Lies, aggression — at what cost?

Late Wednesday Wednesday Israeli army vehicles traveling on a patrol road along the Lebanese border fence near Shebaa Farms and the village of Ghajar, which is half in Israel and half in Lebanon, were hit by Kornet anti-tank missiles.

Photos and video obtained by Israeli media showed two vehicles along the border fence completely engulfed in flames.

 

A statement by Hezbollah taking credit for the attack said it had been perpetrated by its “Quneitra Martyrs unit,” a reference to last week’s Israeli attack in Syria.

In response to the attack, the Israeli military attacked southern Lebanon with artillery and air strikes, killing a Spanish UNIFIL soldier. An IDF Spokesperson said that the army’s response was not over.

A senior IDF source told Ynet that the Spanish UNIFIL soldier was hit “by one of the mortars we fired. We were immediately in contact with the UN, we regret the incident and will examine it. We will draw conclusions, we have no intention of harming UN forces.”

Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in 2006 following a similar cross-border attack against a patrol jeep in which two soldiers’ bodies were captured by the Lebanese militant group.

File photo of an Israeli soldier directing a tank. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

File photo of an Israeli soldier directing a tank. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hezbollah has been active in the Syrian civil war and many analysts have indicated that the group is hesitant to enter into a new war with Israel due to being overstretched in Syria.

Israel is less than two months away from general elections. Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hezbollah not to test Israel following the attack. Netanyahu pointed to the recent war in Gaza as warning of what could come.

Netanyahu’s main challenger in the elections, Labor’s Isaac Herzog responded to the attack supporting a harsh response, saying: “If somebody in Hezbollah thinks that they can threaten and divide us during elections is badly mistaken — in the fight against terror there is no coalition and no opposition.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called for a “harsh and disproportionate” response to the attack.

Related:
Israeli air strike in Syria: Lies, aggression — at what cost?
Retired Israeli general suggests Syria attack timed for election effect

Newsletter banner 6 -540

]]>
http://972mag.com/israeli-soldiers-killed-in-hezbollah-retaliation-attack/101976/feed/ 2
Bombing homes in Gaza: ‘It was supposed to be their shelter’ http://972mag.com/bombing-homes-in-gaza-it-was-supposed-to-be-their-shelter/101965/ http://972mag.com/bombing-homes-in-gaza-it-was-supposed-to-be-their-shelter/101965/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:44:12 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101965 Human rights group B’Tselem exposes — and protests to the Israeli government — home demolitions, Gaza style.

Palestinian school girls walk across a destroyed part of Shujayea neighborhood, Gaza city, November 4th, 2014. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinian school girls walk across a destroyed part of Shujayea neighborhood, Gaza city, November 4th, 2014. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

They fled when the flyers fell from the sky, Israeli military orders dropped like confetti on the masses. Evacuate, they said, or else. Seek shelter now.

One week of sorties, and Ibrahim made the call: We leave now — my wife and I, our seven children, our children’s children.

But the Abu Shuqah family never found shelter. The closest they came was a cardboard factory — somewhere between Bureij and Nusseirat, two refugee camps along Gaza’s coastal flats.

“We stayed in the storeroom about two weeks,” Ibrahim recalled. “There were mattresses, water, gas, and electricity there. Things were good.”

Things were “good” — until the shelling began.

Read ‘Gaza’, +972′s story of the year for 2014

To internalize that familiar refrain about Gaza — that nowhere there is safe — consider the life-or-death moves of a father and his kin. That, in one sense, is the key takeaway of “Black Flag,” the latest in a slew of reports — this one by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem — about “Operation Protective Edge” and its lethal prosecution.

B’Tselem’s report, released today, explores “the legal and moral implications” of one particularly efficient Israeli tactic during this summer’s assault: targeting residential buildings. The group estimates that just over a quarter of Palestinian fatalities during the “fighting” owe to this tactic, which claimed 606 lives — 70 percent of them “either under 18, over 60, or women.”

B’Tselem investigated 70 such incidents, including the operation’s first. “On the first day of the fighting,” the report recounts, “the military attacked the Kaware’ family home. The house collapsed. Nine people, including five children aged 7 to 14, were killed.”

B’Tselem adds:

“Even if the Israeli cabinet thought this policy would bring an end to attacks on Israeli communities, it should not have implemented it because of its foreseeable, horrifying consequences as well as because of the black flag of illegality flying over it.”

Of course, B’Tselem’s report coincides with the recent Palestinian decision to sign the Rome Statute, a precondition for leveling war crimes charges against Israeli leaders at the International Criminal Court. B’Tselem, though, stops short of naming Israel’s actions “crimes” under international humanitarian law, or IHL. It concludes instead that, “at least in some cases, the military’s actions ran contrary to IHL provisions and, in other cases, there is grave concern that they did so.”

Read also: ‘IDF ‘double tap’ bombings hit first responders in Gaza’

At the same time, the report pulls no punches when describing Palestinian fighters’ actions, stating clearly B’Tselem’s blanket contention that “Hamas and other organizations operating in the Gaza Strip do not abide by IHL.”

That kind of across-the-board statement would seem to ignore a crucial fact about Operation Protective Edge — that it was, in fact, a war of one army. But B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad, in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released with today’s report, made clear that placing “responsibility for harm to civilians” solely on Hamas was a red herring.

“This interpretation is designed to block, a priori, any allegation against Israel,” wrote El-Ad. “This interpretation is unreasonable, unlawful, and renders meaningless the principle that violations committed by one party do not release the other party from its obligations toward the civilian population and civilian objects.”

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)

B’Tselem cites the military’s claim that residential buildings were legitimate military targets because they housed “terror infrastructure” — either in the form of materiel or operatives who purportedly hid them. But throughout the Israeli assault, “no official claimed that there was any connection between a house that was targeted and any specific military activity there,” recounts B’Tselem.

On a related point, B’Tselem takes issue with Israeli decision-makers’ definition of “proportionality.” The principle, according to the report’s authors, is that so-called “collateral damage” cannot be justified “when harm to civilians as a result of an attack is projected to be excessive in relation to its anticipated military advantage….”

As I read it, that’s legalese for a pretty simple point: If killing nine members of the Kaware’ family does nothing to shift the balance of military power, you can’t do it — at least not under international humanitarian law. And what combination of presumed military armaments — or battlefield knowledge — could so fill a Gaza home that it would constitute a threat to Israel’s US-backed military?

Even if that weren’t a rhetorical question, even if Israeli commanders actually believed that killing hundreds of women, children, and elderly was simply a means to a legitimate military end, they still had an obligation to at least try to avoid casualties, to warn civilians that deadly violence was afoot.

So did they? Let’s look at what happened when the ten members of the Abu Shuqah family heeded Israel’s warning. A week into Israel’s bombing campaign, we know, they left their home in the Bureij refugee camp and made it to the cardboard factory — this after a short waylay at Ibrahim’s brother-in-law’s house. (It was a two-hour waylay, in fact — just long enough for a bomb to fall nearby, prompting the family to keep moving.)

After two weeks in which things were “good” — with mattresses, gas, electricity, and water — the factory storeroom was hit by shrapnel. Again, the Abu Shuqah family made haste, this time to a relative’s house in the Nusseirat refugee camp (where the United Nations estimates that 90 percent of the available water is “unfit for human consumption”).

It was there that, on July 31, 2014 at 8:30 PM, Ibrahim Abu Shuqah’s wife, two of his daughters, and a granddaughter were killed in an Israeli airstrike that, in an instant and without warning, claimed the lives of 13 people, hunkered in a home in a refugee camp by the sea.

It was supposed to be their shelter.

Next door, ‘Abir al-‘Assar, who was nine months pregnant, her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and her brother-in-law’s six-year-old daughter all perished, too.

None of the surviving family members of this bombing-among-many knows why their loved ones had to die — or what military advantage Israel derived.

Read detailed accounts of similar cases documented by B’Tselem.

Read also:
UN aid agency to Gazans: Sorry, but there’s no money
Report details IDF ‘double tap’ bombings that hit first responders in Gaza
War on Gaza: A promise Israeli politicians can keep

Newsletter banner 4 - 540

]]>
http://972mag.com/bombing-homes-in-gaza-it-was-supposed-to-be-their-shelter/101965/feed/ 22
‘Zionist Camp’ takes a lead in polls, but Bibi has upper hand http://972mag.com/zionist-camp-takes-a-lead-in-polls-but-bibi-has-upper-hand/101927/ http://972mag.com/zionist-camp-takes-a-lead-in-polls-but-bibi-has-upper-hand/101927/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:48:22 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101927 The top two parties are neck-and-neck and the number of political king-makers is growing. With a number of potential wild-cards ahead, it’s anyone’s election.

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

If elections were to take place today, the next prime minister of Israel could come from either of two directions: the Labor Party’s Issac Herzog or incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of Likud.

The latest polls show that both men would have a decent chance of forming a coalition, although Netanyahu would probably have an advantage.

The centrist parties — the Herzog-Livni Zionist Camp, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, newcomer Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu — and Meretz, the sole remaining Zionist leftist party, would have a combined 45 out of 120 Knesset seats, as predicted by poll aggregator Project 61.

The Right, consisting of Netanyahu’s Likud, Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home and Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beitenu, also combine for 45 seats in the latest polls.

The latest aggregate poll results published by Project 61 on January 26, 2015. facebook.com/Project.61.IL

The latest aggregate poll results published by Project 61 on January 26, 2015. facebook.com/Project.61.IL

In such a situation, ultra-Orthodox parties United Torah Judaism (UTJ) and the Sephardic Shas party would likely return to their traditional role of political king-makers. However, if the ultra-Orthodox parties must choose between the Right or a left-leaning government that includes Yair Lapid — who after the previous elections refused to sit in any government that included UTJ or Shas — they will probably throw their weight behind Netanyahu.

The centrist parties, Yesh Atid and Kulanu, could also throw their weight behind Netanyahu for the right price — promises to advance their social agendas.

The combined list of Arab parties could also affect who is given a chance to form a coalition by throwing their support behind Labor and Livni, but they cannot be expected to actually join a government headed by a list that calls itself “the Zionist Camp.”

All of that said, it is far too early to begin making election predictions. There are nearly two months remaining before Israelis head to the polls and the number of potential wild cards are growing by the day.

Read also: Election analysis: A shared Bibi-Herzog government?

The threat of armed conflict is higher than it has been since the end of the Gaza war this summer, and violence in East Jerusalem is bubbling once again.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s scheduled visit to the United States and speech at Congress could either boost or hurt him in the polls, depending on how it is perceived in the United States and what blowback it generates in Israel. So far, there has been a chorus of criticism over Netanyahu’s visit and its amplifying effect on his continuing bad blood with the White House.

Few parties have laid out any platforms that set them apart from the other parties (which Mairav Zonszein discusses in more detail here) and the debate thus far has been dominated with mud-slinging contests centering on the Zionist credentials of a nearly indistinguishable pack of centrist parties and politicians.

So while the “Zionist Camp” has progressive and significant growth in the polls, it is far from the finish line. And even if it the center-left comes out with more seats than Netanyahu, there is no guarantee it will be able to form a government.

Related:
Why Mizrahim don’t vote for the Left
The ‘anti-Zionist’ camp goes mainstream in Israeli elections
WATCH: Shas’ election ad is a challenge to both Right, Left

]]>
http://972mag.com/zionist-camp-takes-a-lead-in-polls-but-bibi-has-upper-hand/101927/feed/ 2
UN aid agency to Gazans: Sorry, but there’s no money http://972mag.com/un-aid-agency-to-gazans-sorry-but-theres-no-money/101917/ http://972mag.com/un-aid-agency-to-gazans-sorry-but-theres-no-money/101917/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 13:02:02 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101917 Only $135 million of pledged donor money has been delivered to Gaza, hundreds of millions short of what’s needed, the UN agency says. As a result, it is suspending its aid programs for those most affected by the war.

By Yael Marom

Palestinians stand in front of the entrance of Remal Elementary UNRWA School which is used as a temporary shelter by Palestinians living in the Norther part of the Gaza Strip, Gaza City on July 13, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinians stand in front of the entrance of Remal Elementary UNRWA School which is used as a temporary shelter by Palestinians living in the Norther part of the Gaza Strip, Gaza City on July 13, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

UNRWA, the UN relief agency charged with providing aid to Palestinian refugees, announced Tuesday that it is suspending its financial aid program to the thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed during Operation Protective Edge last summer. The program was intended to assist them in repairing houses, as well as renting apartments for those who have remained homeless since the assault.

According to a statement by UNRWA, more than 96,000 homes belonging to refugees were damaged or destroyed during Protective Edge, and the cost to repair them is estimated at $720 million. Until now, UNRWA claims that it only received $135 million of the pledges for the program.

Read also: Report details IDF ‘double tap’ bombings in Gaza war

At a summit held last October in Cairo, donor states pledged over $5.4 billion for reconstruction in the Strip. The head of UNRWA in Gaza, Robert Turner, said that only a small portion of that money made it to Gaza, and called the decision to suspend the program troubling and unacceptable.

“If we cannot continue the program, it will have grave consequences for affected communities in Gaza,” Turner said in a statement. “People are desperate and the international community cannot even provide the bare minimum – for example a repaired home in winter – let alone a lifting of the blockade, access to markets or freedom of movement. We’ve said before that quiet will not last, and now the quiet is at risk.”

Palestinians walk through the Shujayea neighborhood of Gaza City, nearly three months since a cease fire ended Operation Protective Edge, November 16, 2014. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinians walk through the Shujayea neighborhood of Gaza City, nearly three months since a cease fire ended Operation Protective Edge, November 16, 2014. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

According to statistics published by the United Nations, over 100,000 homes in Gaza were damaged during Operation Protective Edge (nearly 20,000 homes were entirely destroyed, while 80,000 were damaged). Tens of thousands of people in Gaza, including children, live and sleep in plastic shelters and tents that cannot protect them against rain or cold. Those without homes live among the ruins of their former houses, facing the threat of rain which can easily collapse or flood their shelters.

For Israelis it seems that the relative quiet of the past few months has been maintained. But for the residents of Gaza, the situation is entirely different. The Israeli army continues to fire on Palestinian fishermen and anyone who approaches the Israel-Gaza border; children continue to be killed by unexploded ordinances; workers continue to strike; and the siege by both Israel and Egypt continues unabated. This Monday Israel forbade a Palestinian minister from leaving the Strip to attend a conference in the West Bank.

Read also: 2014 Story of the Year: Gaza

After a request by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last week, Egypt opened the Rafah Crossing for three days, prompting thousands of Palestinians to try and leave Gaza. However, the Egyptian authorities only allowed students, medical patients and those with foreign passports to leave.

While Israelis are gearing up for elections, Gaza is entirely absent from any public discussion in Israel. Perhaps its absence from the election debate is due to a consensus among candidates — ranging from the center-left to the far-right — that the “Gaza problem” will only continue, and cannot be solved by another war, and another war, and another war. Meanwhile, the government will maintain the siege, and Israelis will continue to wonder: why are those Gazans so mean to us?

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew.

Related:
War on Gaza: A promise Israeli politicians can keep
PHOTOS: In Gaza, rebuilding is still over the horizon

Newsletter banner 6 -540

]]>
http://972mag.com/un-aid-agency-to-gazans-sorry-but-theres-no-money/101917/feed/ 5
IDF commander dismisses Unit 8200 refuseniks http://972mag.com/idf-commander-dismisses-unit-8200-refuseniks/101863/ http://972mag.com/idf-commander-dismisses-unit-8200-refuseniks/101863/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:33:46 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101863 ‘These operations, and not our letter, are what make military service political.’ The 43 reservist soldiers who refused to serve in the IDF respond to their dismissal. 

Israeli soldiers surround the West Bank city of Hebron, seen on June 15, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers surround the West Bank city of Hebron, seen on June 15, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

The commander of the IDF’s highly prestigious 8200 intelligence unit dismissed all 43 reservist soldiers who previously declared their refusal to serve in a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu last September. The letter, which caused a great deal of controversy, cited Israel’s military rule over the Palestinian people in the occupied territories as a policy of choice, rather than of self-defense, which violates basic human rights.

In a letter addressed to the reservists, the commander wrote that their choice to refuse was “a mistake.” “You crossed a fine line that distinguishes between politics and military service, a separation line that allows us in the unit to continue providing quality intelligence for all the IDF’s needs and various security organization and the Israeli government,” Walla! quoted the letter as saying.

The reservists published a statement Monday afternoon responding to their dismissal:

We discovered that we were dismissed from our unit a few hours ago after reading about it in the news. None of us have received any notice from the unit or IDF. Unfortunately, the unit is choosing to cope with the claims we have raised by throwing us out of the unit, as if the harsh reality will disappear together with us. The testimonies that were published are not rumors, but our testimonies, first hand testimonies about our actions that were part of the routine of our service, from soldiers who served and believed in the unit…

The commander of the unit and the IDF Spokesperson do not deny that the needs of the military regime’s intelligence in the territories include gathering information about innocents without any restrictions, as well as blackmailing uninvolved individuals on the basis of medical information and their sexual tendencies. Indeed, as the unit commander says, there is a fine line that distinguishes between politics and the military: but these operations, and not our letter, are what make military service political.

At the time of its publishing, Prime Minister Netanyahu called the refusal latter “baseless slander,” while opposition leader, Labor Party chairman and now head of the “Zionist Camp” Isaac Herzog – himself a former 8200 unit soldier – condemned the move as a “call for subordination.”

8200 is considered an elite unit within the intelligence corps of the army, responsible for both internal and foreign signals intelligence-gathering, alongside the Mossad and Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service. Many of its members are known for their Arabic language skills, which are 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.

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

]]>
http://972mag.com/idf-commander-dismisses-unit-8200-refuseniks/101863/feed/ 8