+972 Magazine http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Mon, 31 Aug 2015 17:14:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 The devastating effects of night raids on Palestinian families http://972mag.com/the-devastating-effects-of-night-raids-on-palestinian-families/111259/ http://972mag.com/the-devastating-effects-of-night-raids-on-palestinian-families/111259/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 16:30:28 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=111259 IDF night raids, an everyday occurrence in the occupied territories, ensure that Palestinians cannot feels safe in the one place where safety should be assured.

By Salwa Duaibis

Israeli night raid, Salem, West Bank, 26.8.2015. (Activestills)

The results of a night raid by Israeli soldiers on the West Bank village of Salem, August 26, 2015. (Activestills)

Over the years, the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC) has collected testimonies from Palestinian women in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza on a whole range of issues. However there is one issue, above all others, that stands out due to the frequency with which it occurs and the devastating impact it has on women, their children and entire communities: night raids conducted by the Israeli military into Palestinian villages and homes, which have been taking place on a nightly basis in the occupied territories for the past 48 years.

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In a sample of 100 instances of night raids conducted since 2014, the one common thread mentioned by the women who provided testimonies to WCLAC was a sense of terror. The raids usually begin at around 2.00 a.m. with aggressive banging at the door or simply an explosion to blow it in. Masked soldiers storm the house as the family tries to comprehend what is happening. Sometimes a family member will be arrested, other times not. Sometimes there is violence, sometimes not. The house will be searched with reports of damaged furniture; wardrobes emptied with contents thrown to the floor, while soldiers leave muddy boot marks throughout the house.

Perhaps the most devastating impact these raids have is on the children. Mothers report that their children have problems sleeping after experiencing a night raid. Some children become aggressive, others wet their beds. No one feels safe in the one place where safety should be assured.

According to a recent report by WCLAC, it is estimated that the military conducts nearly 1,400 night raids each year, with over 65,000 since military law was imposed on the West Bank in 1967. These figures do not even include the more frequent military incursions that occur into Palestinian villages and cities during the day. Furthermore, our testimonies reveal that every night raid occurs on average within two kilometers of an Israeli settlement, and even closer to a road used by settlers. The simple fact is that to guarantee the protection of hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians living in occupied territory, the army must engage in mass intimidation of the local population.

While this strategy is largely successful, it would be naïve to assume that it does not generate resentment and anger. The question is how long can this anger be contained and how is it likely to manifest itself?

Salwa Duaibis is the head of the International Advocacy Unit at the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC).

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Israel cannot turn a blind eye to worldwide refugee crisis http://972mag.com/israel-cannot-turn-a-blind-eye-to-worldwide-refugee-crisis/111253/ http://972mag.com/israel-cannot-turn-a-blind-eye-to-worldwide-refugee-crisis/111253/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 14:47:54 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=111253 Dozens of bodies are found in a refrigerated truck in Austria, while hundreds wash up on the shores of Libya and Italy. As the refugee crisis hits unprecedented levels, in Israel it’s business as usual.

Palestinian refugees from Syria fleeing the horrors of war on a boat originally headed to Italy.

Palestinian refugees from Syria fleeing the horrors of war on a boat originally headed to Italy.

“Mother, I am sorry that I was not rescued and drowned. Forgive me for all the loans you took out so that I could escape like the other young people. I am sorry that I won’t send 50 euro every month to my brother like I promised. Don’t look for me, mother, you don’t have the money for burying my body. I am thankful for the sea for opening its heart and letting in my body without an entry permit or passport. I am also thankful for the fish that enjoyed eating my flesh without asking who I am, which religion I belong to, or what my ethnic background is.

“Dear fishermen and divers, I do not know where I drowned or where you will find me, but it is clear that I will no longer be a burden on any of the immigration authorities. The news broadcasts will dedicate two minutes to my death, and thats’s it — I will disappear.”

These words were written by a young Syrian man whose body was found at sea.

Death in the back of a truck

I cannot get the images  of Syrian refugees who fled their country out of my mind. I do not stop myself from searching for more details, photos, or stories from these endless journeys of death. There is not one story that does not include the words “Palestinian-Syrians” or “Syrian-Palestinians.”

The Israeli media mostly refrains from reporting on the humanitarian disaster that’s keeping the world busy, preferring to keep the Jewish People terrified of the asylum seekers recently released from Holot detention center. How can one ignore horrifying incidents, such as the 71 refugees who died in the back of a refrigerated truck on the border of Austria, or the 50 bodies that washed up on the shores of Libya, or the hundreds who drowned somewhere between Italy and Greece? How can one remain indifferent to the photos of thousands of refugees trying to cross into Macedonia and other countries on their way to Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, or Sweden?

This summer I stopped waiting around to find out whether any of the victims were refugees from Sajara — my family’s village. At a certain point the question loses meaning, and very quickly any allegiance to a Syrian city, a small village, or a refugee camp such as Yarmouk, wash away in the salty sea, leaving behind helpless human beings who struggle against the waves until their very last breath.

Palestinian refugees seen in Yarmouk refugee camp, Damascus, Syria. (photo: Walla Masoud/UNRWA)

Palestinian refugees seen in Yarmouk refugee camp, Damascus, Syria. (photo: Walla Masoud/UNRWA)

Every day brings with it different horror story that refuses to end. Desperation has led many of my family members and friends have stopped keeping track. Others share these stories on Facebook, trying desperately to shock their friends, sometimes adding “may God help them,” or “shame on those traitorous Arab countries.”

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Our virtual village includes photos of flowers, blessings for survivors, and articles about missing persons. This month broke the all-time record with the video of the father holding his two children and swimming toward the shore, encouraging his children: “We’ve made it, just a bit more and we’re there. We’re saved, father, we’re saved. One day you will tell the entire world, about the day which all the borders of the Arab world were closed to us and we came here.”

And then came the photos of the violent arrest of a Syrian family on the border of Hungary followed by the story of the death truck. And if that wasn’t enough, someone collected and put together the photos of all the children who drowned in the sea. But in all of these reports, no one is talking about the names of the dead, nor about the end of the fighting. It is unclear whether Assad will fall, or what will happen in Syria with Islamic State and other groups. It seems the war will only end only when the last Syrian is either murdered or flees.

Refugees not welcome

Every single neighboring country — Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey — is full of refugees. These countries have began complaining about the burden of hundreds of thousands of refugees who are looking for work. Educated men are cleaning the streets of Jordan, the “new Chinese” are building Amman, talented artists take part in street bands on the streets of Istanbul, and young Syrian women have become the sex slaves of the Arab world.

The Western world puts on conferences and provides assistance — which is never actually enough — to these countries. Everyone gets involved, somehow.

Only one country totally ignores what is happening in the neighborhood: Israel. Here and there we hear about assistance to Syrians fighting against ISIS, we hear about the wounded Syrians who were hospitalized in northern Israel, and following the lynch on the ambulance by Druze citizens, Israel can no longer deny its involvement in Syria.

And me, the naive woman who looks on from the side, thinks: Why does Israel act like a spoiled child in the kindergarten of the Middle East? Who gave it an unlimited pass from taking responsibility? Why must millions of Syrian refugees leave their war-torn country, through the death journeys to Europe, while in Israel it’s business as usual.

The same Germany that murdered Jews 70 years ago learned its lesson and has opened its arms to foreigners from Syria. It absorbs refugees despite internal dissent and the difficult economic burdens it must carry. Meanwhile, the same country of refugees based on the story of Jewish oppression and the right to a safe place continues to abuse anyone who isn’t Jewish, such as Darfur refugees, victims of ethnic cleansing in Africa, and migrant workers.

Refugee warm up near a fire at the Arin Mirkhan refugee camp, Turkish-Syrian border, October 2014. Photo: Faiz Abu-Rmeleh/Activestills.org

Refugee warm up near a fire at the Arin Mirkhan refugee camp, Turkish-Syrian border, October 2014. Photo: Faiz Abu-Rmeleh/Activestills.org

I am sure that the idea to establish a UN-run zone for refugees in the Golan Heights (which is considered occupied Syrian territory according to international law) will likely shock some of you.

Syria itself absorbed several thousand refugees from the 1948 war, including most of my family. In 1923, thousands of refugees from Greece arrived in boats on the shores of Syria. Think about how many Jews immigrated to the United States, Australia, and South Africa after World War II. This is what happens to innocents in wars.

Perhaps one day the world will settle the score with Israel’s indifferent stance toward the Syrian war. Perhaps we will one day speak of Israel’s role in shouldering the burden of the Syrian crisis.

Something to gain

A state in the heart of the middle east, one with a majority of citizens made up of people who fled their home countries due to racism and anti-Semitism, has caused a catastrophe for Palestinians, turning most of them into eternal refugees. Seventy years later, this very state acts like it has landed here from a different planet, and couldn’t care one bit. As long as Jews aren’t in trouble, the world can keep on burning. Who will forgive Israel and help it in its time of need? And who will believe in the humanity of “the only democracy in the Middle East” when it turns a blind eye to what is happening?

If Israel builds refugee camps in the Golan, it will know how to make the best of it: it will be able to clear its name of wrongdoing, raise money, and make diplomatic gains that Danny Danon, our newly-appointed ambassador to the UN, will never be able to make. What the Israeli government fails to understand is that there is no such thing as an ethnically or religiously pure country in the world.

The “Start-Up Nation” knows that we live in a giant global village, and there is no way to live in a bubble protected by Iron Dome. Not while the world outside is on fire.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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In the Israeli media, a soldier trying to arrest a minor is the victim http://972mag.com/in-the-israeli-media-a-soldier-trying-to-arrest-a-minor-is-the-victim/111227/ http://972mag.com/in-the-israeli-media-a-soldier-trying-to-arrest-a-minor-is-the-victim/111227/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 17:31:50 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=111227 After viral video emerged of a soldier attempting to arrest a Palestinian boy, the Israeli press presents the official army version rather than the accounts of the villagers who saw it all happen.

By Leehee Rothschild

At the weekly demonstration at the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh last Friday a masked soldier tried to arrest 12-year-old Mohammad Tamimi. Mohammad’s arm had been broken and in a cast since the beginning of that week, when soldiers entered the village in a separate incident.

His sister, Ahed, his mother, Nariman, and another Palestinian woman eventually prevented the event. His sister and his mother, though, were beaten by soldiers and sent to the hospital.

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Quoted extensively in the Israeli press, the army’s version claimed that the soldiers were not aware that Mohammad was a minor. It is something that would have been very difficult to miss, given that he is a pretty small boy.  And I wonder how close a soldier would have to be to notice that the boy was in fact a child, and if he still wasn’t able to notice it when he had him in a headlock between his arms. I also doubt that realizing that the boy was a minor would have prevented the soldier from arresting him. The army has arrested Palestinian children before.

The report in the Israeli daily Haaretz starts with the army’s version and only afterwards describes, briefly, the events as seen by the village residents. That version is told by the activist Yonatan Pollack, but the reporter then returns to the army spokesperson.

The reporter does not mention that those involved were members of the same family, or that Mohammad was already injured, or that Ahed and Nariman were hospitalized after being hit by the soldiers. If the Haaretz writer had made just the slightest journalist efforts, she could have easily discovered these details.

An Israeli soldier holding Mohammed Tamimi, 12, in a headlock during a demonstration in Nabi Saleh, August 28, 2015. (Karam Saleem)

An Israeli soldier holding Mohammed Tamimi, 12, in a headlock during a demonstration in Nabi Saleh, August 28, 2015. (Karam Saleem)

The reporter from the popular news site, Ynet, inserts Israeli army statements alongside a number of paragraphs quoted from an article in the British Daily Mail on the events. They report that the Daily Mail’s coverage is biased against Israel, despite the fact that they heavily rely on it. The article’s headline, “A girl bites a solder: a violent demonstration in Judea and Samaria,” paints a picture in which the village residents are those who cause the violence while the soldiers are the victims of it. They describe the demonstration as violent and present as fact the army’s claim that Mohammad was throwing rocks just before the soldiers attempted to arrest him, despite the fact that this is actually disputed, and denied by the villagers.

They describe Ahed as winning fame for screaming at the soldier and attempt to portray her as violent and dangerous. Indeed, a girl standing and screaming in the face of an armed soldier is a recognized threat.

Ynet’s inability to see the Palestinians villagers through human eyes is also apparent in that they confuse Ahed’s name with “Bilal,” another participant at the Nabi Saleh demonstration. He filmed the viral video, but is an adult man, not a young girl.

The circumstances of the demonstration and clashes were mentioned nowhere in this reporting, nor was there any critique of the consistent violence toward the villagers.

The Haaretz report portrays just another Friday in the West Bank through the frame of the Israeli army spokesman. Ynet communicates to the Israeli public that “we are the victims and everyone else is anti-Semitic.” The important question they deal with is how the world will look see us, rather than the reasons as to why a soldier was trying to violently arrest a 12-year-old boy.

Leehee Rothschild is a political-feminist activist and an MA student in gender studies at Ben Gurion University. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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Why no one is talking about the two Israelis missing in Gaza http://972mag.com/why-no-one-is-talking-about-the-two-israelis-missing-in-gaza/111197/ http://972mag.com/why-no-one-is-talking-about-the-two-israelis-missing-in-gaza/111197/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 12:17:29 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=111197 Eleven months after the disappearance of two Israeli citizens into Gaza, it seems as if the public has simply forgotten all about them.

By Anat Yurovsky

Avraham 'Avera' Mengistu (Facebook)

Avraham ‘Avera’ Mengistu (Facebook)

In early July, the Israeli press reported that two Israeli citizens, Avera Mengistu and a Bedouin whose name has not been released for publication, are being held in Gaza, likely under Hamas captivity.

The press followed the story for a number of days, along with a bit of criticism against Prime Minister Netanyahu. And then—silence. The Israeli public has quickly moved on to other things, and I’d like to understand why. I believe that a number of reasons have distracted us from the case of the two missing persons, all stemming from one central feeling critical to the Israeli experience today—complete political despair.

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What exactly was the story? IDF soldiers saw Avera Mengistu climb across the border into Gaza in September, 2014. Over the next 10 months, it was kept under a gag order and his family was forbidden from speaking to the press–a family of immigrants requested. For 10 months his parents did not know his condition, where he was, if Hamas was holding him, or whether, at all, he was dead or alive. They also did not know, most importantly, what processes were in motion, or not in motion, in order to bring him back.

And to what extent were they kept updated? A number of days after Avera arrived to Gaza, his parents received the backpack he had left on the Israeli side of the border. The backpack was torn and full of soot, and his parents feared that he had been at the site of an explosion and that he had been hurt.

Only when they were visited ten months later by the prime minister’s coordinator for prisoners-of-war and missing persons, Lior Lotan, did they learn that the bag had been blown up by the IDF, without the presence of Avera. This information was clearly known by the authorities when they had delivered the bag to the family. Yet those responsible for assisting the family simply left it up to them to wonder if their son had been injured. The first time, in fact, that Avera’s parents were invited to an official meeting was the evening before the gag order was lifted, 10 months after the event.

But why does such injustice not merit our attention as a public?

A few guesses. First of all, we simply cannot express solidarity on every issue all the time. We live in a country when at any given time there are at least four emergencies dealing with social, political or economic problems that demand our attention. In the last month we dealt with a stabbing at the gay pride parade in Jerusalem, a murder in the Palestinian village of Duma, and all of the many implications of these two events. We are occupied by the gas deal, the nuclear deal with Iran, among others. All of these happened after the story of two missing Israelis in Gaza.

Conscious people understand that they need to choose the issues on which they need to focus, and while they chose to contest the gas deal, they were unable to also deal with the story of the two missing persons. The less activist-minded feel that the social problems are simply too overwhelming, and that they can just ignore everything. The calls against “incitement” and “oversight” and “robbery” become white noise, since they are heard everywhere and at all times.

A demonstration for the return of Avera Mengisto. (Activestills)

A demonstration for the return of Avera Mengistu. (Activestills)

Additionally, we are dealing with a situation that is multi-dimensional. When we hear of an Israeli kidnapped by a terrorist we know to be disturbed and to hope that he returns. It directly relates to our fear. We are able to identify, to feel unprotected, and primarily to understand the case in black and white terms.

But that is not what we’re dealing with. We were told that Avera crossed the border by himself, which is hard to believe. Then we learned about another citizen, on whom we have almost no information. The moment that the issue is less clear it’s hard for us to take a stand. I’ve heard rumors that the two men crossed the border in order to buy drugs and, thus, it’s not really necessary for us to make an effort to get them home, and that they are, in any case, not in the hands of Hamas, etc.

Moreover, there is a certain aspect of racism at play. The Israeli consensus does not react to news of a kidnapped Bedouin like it does to a kidnapped Jewish Israeli. I believe that many Israelis would want the Bedouin to be returned home safely, out of the hope that the state would take care of the security of all of its citizens equally.  But still, there’s a difference between this desire and the actual getting up and making it happen. When we speak of the missing Bedouin, whose name and story are unknown to most, no one will go out to fight for him.

This is also a question of resources. If one of the men were the son of a veteran Ashkenazi family, the past 11 months would not have looked how they did. Why? Because a veteran Ashkenazi family is perceived differently than an immigrant family from Ethiopia or a Bedouin family. How many journalists, state employees, and security officials would feel connected to such a family, and know him personally, whether it be from the army, studies, or last week’s wedding?

A family from Israel knows how to play the game. They have the right personal telephone numbers to call when their letters to the prime minister go unanswered. They would know to make noise if they choose, and that 10 months without an answer on their missing son is too long to wait. They wouldn’t be afraid to undertake additional steps to get things in motion. We saw how much fear was in the expressions of Avera’s parents when Lotan indicated to them that, by asking questions, they were crossing the line. Would the same have happened with a family whose parents were born and raised in Israel?

The family of the second missing man live in a town in the Negev which suffers from high unemployment and low levels of infrastructure. It is surrounded by two Bedouin villages which for the past years have been threatened with evacuation, and have, time after time, worked to delay the demolitions of their homes. Those villages have never been connected to water or electricity. They are near a farm where an Israeli family has moved into recently, and who were quickly hooked up to the necessary facilitates. This background is important so that we can understand in what context this Bedouin family lives, and what they can expect from the state.

But in my opinion, more than any other reason, we are not speaking about Mengistu and the missing Bedouin because we are, essentially, hopeless. We have no hope in the political system, in our leaders, or in their desire to lead with justice. We feel that there is really no one to fight against injustice. This sensation, one that is too easy to feel these days in Israel, to abandon the fight before we even begin. To tell ourselves that the two men crossed into Gaza because they wanted to, not to think what is happening to them now, to accept the silence around this loaded story.

The writer is an activist and a student of Middle Eastern studies and literature based in Jerusalem. This article was first published in Russian on Relevant Info, and in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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‘What’s the number of your room, child?’ http://972mag.com/whats-the-number-of-your-room-child/111140/ http://972mag.com/whats-the-number-of-your-room-child/111140/#comments Sat, 29 Aug 2015 15:59:00 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=111140 Attacking and imprisoning Palestinian children has shaped Palestinian generations for decades. The more rights-deprived the childhood, the more hungry for freedom adulthood will be.

By Sawsan Khalife’

In this video, an Israeli soldier is seen chasing a Palestinian child with a broken arm during the weekly demonstration held in Nabi Saleh in the West Bank. The soldier holds him by the neck and pushes his face into the stones while the boy’s mother and sister, along with other Palestinian demonstrators, try to pull him away.

It is always painful to see such images, but not surprising. According to Defense for Children International, each year approximately 500 to 700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. The most common charge is stone throwing.

While watching the child running from the soldier and crying for help, I couldn’t help but wonder whether he knew what would happen to him if he were arrested. I wondered whether there is a room for children in the West Bank similar to “Room Number 4,” which Palestinian children in East Jerusalem know all too well.

It would be surprising to find a child, or even an adult, in East Jerusalem who is not familiar with “Room Number 4.” This is the name of the interrogation room in Jerusalem’s police station in the Russian compound neighborhood, where Palestinian residents, including children, are interrogated.

While hundreds of children are arrested annually, it is the conditions they undergo during their arrest and interrogation that represents possibly the most severe violation, under both Israeli and international law.

The name of the room comes from the Israeli interrogators who ask the children about to be interrogated, “Do you know why we call this room ‘Room Number 4′? Because when we are done with you Arabs you will crawl out of this room on all fours, like babies.”

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Nearly two years ago local activists launched a campaign called “Room number 4”, aiming to raise awareness of child abuse at the hands of Israeli police forces in East Jerusalem. The website they established serves as a platform for many testimonies of Palestinian children, and provides reports from the Madaa Center in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

Using interviews with children between the ages of seven and 17 and their testimonies, as well as statistics, the Madaa Center initiative shows the impact of the arrests and detentions.

According to the report, 63 percent of detained children are denied food, water and access to the restroom during interrogation.

“I was thirsty and hungry. When I asked to go to the toilet they told me to pee in my jeans,” said one eight-year-old child.

Eighty-three percent of the children are subject to verbal abuse, the organization reports, adding that children have said interrogators insulted them or their mothers and sisters, or cursed the Prophet Mohammed.

Night arrests are common, with 39 percent of the children arrested between 4 and 5 a.m., despite the fact that Israeli law specifically forbids the arrest and interrogation of minors at nighttime.

One mother of a 14-year-old boy recalls, “Around 4:30 in the morning we woke up to the sound of knocking and kicking on the door of our house. When we opened it, the special forces unit came in and asked for my son. They grabbed him and tried to take him outside. As they left the house I saw them handcuffing his hands and feet.”

Fifty-five percent of the children are shackled or cuffed on both their hands and legs. Fourteen percent have their heads covered.

“They left me in the room for five hours with my hands tied behind my back and legs tied to each other. When I refused to confess they slapped me and tightened my hand ties more and more,” said a 15-year-old child.

Forty-eight percent of the children are transferred to house arrest, some of them for an unlimited period of time, and most are not permitted to attend school.

“I would rather be in jail than in house arrest so I won’t look out the window and see my friends playing while I cannot,” said a 14-year-old after 10 months of house arrest.

Seventy-seven percent of the children are physically abused, including being punched at the time of arrest or during the interrogations. Twenty-seven percent of them require long term medical care.

Eighty-three percent of the children do not understand the documents they sign in Hebrew.

“The policeman told me to sign, then they used my fingerprint to sign. I don’t know how to read Hebrew,” said a 13-year-old child.

Forty-two percent of the children drop out of school after their arrest.

“My child was a good student,” said one mother. “I was dreaming that he would become a doctor or an engineer… But now he is in prison and I don’t know what his future will be.”

Not one child interviewed by Madaa was allowed to receive a visit from family members or to make a phone call while in detention. In addition, 90 percent underwent an initial interrogation without the presence of their parents.

Thirteen percent of the children were subjected to full body searches.

“They wanted me to undress and search me. I refused. They pressed an electric taser against my body several times till I gave up and took off my clothes,” said a 16 year old.

During the interrogations, thirteen percent of children reported being asked by the investigators to become collaborators in order to pass information to the police. They are offered benefits and favors in return, including the promise that all charges be dropped.

“A man stopped me in the street, gave me 200 shekels and asked me to tell him the names of the kids who throw stones,” said an 11 year-old.

What is the number of your room, child?

Even though Room Number 4 is reserved for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the child in the video must have in mind another room that drove him to run for his life. And I wonder if it has been named as creatively as the room famous for making people “crawl on all fours.”

***

I was surprised that the soldier in the video felt the need to cover his face. He shouldn’t fear being exposed, as he won’t be charged with anything. He surely has the support of the majority of Israelis who justify the occupation, many of whom are legally obligated to play an active role in it.

An armed soldier running after an injured child who is crying for help — isn’t the IDF the “most moral army in the world”?

Well, not quite. The IDF imposes a shameful occupation that misleads some to take part in it, and makes them less human. No one expects the Israeli government to have any interest in the rights of Palestinians, but if it had truly the interest of its young Israelis in mind it would simply stop turning these young soldiers into inhumane individuals, and end the occupation.

Sawsan Khalife’ is an independent journalist.

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WATCH: Palestinian women and children prevent arrest of minor in Nabi Saleh http://972mag.com/watch-palestinian-women-and-children-prevent-violent-arrest-in-nabi-saleh/111117/ http://972mag.com/watch-palestinian-women-and-children-prevent-violent-arrest-in-nabi-saleh/111117/#comments Sat, 29 Aug 2015 11:05:33 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=111117 An Israeli soldier attempts to detain a 12-year-old Palestinian boy during a demonstration in the West Bank village. His mother and sister make sure that doesn’t happen.

See update below.

The weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh took a particularly violent turn on Friday after an Israeli soldier tried to detain 12-year-old Mohammed Tamimi, leading to a fierce scuffle with his mother, sister and aunt. Eventually the soldier was led away by another soldier.

The incident was captured on video by Bilal Tamimi, a local Palestinian journalist. The soldier can be seen running down a hill chasing Mohammed, who had his arm in a cast after breaking it during clashes in the village a few days earlier. He eventually catches up with Mohammed, puts him in a headlock and pins him against a rock. The soldier then sits on Mohammed, preventing him from moving.

An Israeli soldier holding Mohammed Tamimi, 12, in a headlock during a demonstration in Nabi Saleh, August 28, 2015. (Karam Saleem)

An Israeli soldier holding Mohammed Tamimi, 12, in a headlock during a demonstration in Nabi Saleh, August 28, 2015. (Karam Saleem)

Others can be heard yelling at the soldier that Mohammed is a child, and that his hand is broken. The soldier calls out for someone to come and help him, and turns to the activist standing next to him and mutters something about “leftists being trash.” He then drags Mohammed forward and pins him down again. At this point Mohammed’s 15-year-old sister, Ahed; his mother and his father, Nariman and Bassem; and his aunt Nawal arrive, along with other activists.

Mohammed’s family tries to pull the soldier off the boy, tugging at his arms and head. The soldier responds by flailing his arms wildly at them, trying to hit them, and putting his hand around Ahed’s throat. They continue trying to pull him away until another soldier arrives and leads him away. As he is walking off, the soldier throws a stun grenade into the middle of the crowd.

Ahed (left), Nawal (right) and Nariman Tamimi (behind the soldier) try to stop Mohammed, 12, from being arrested by an Israeli soldier at a demonstration in Nabi Saleh, August 28, 2015. (Karam Saleem)

Ahed (left), Nawal (right) and Nariman Tamimi (behind the soldier) try to stop Mohammed, 12, from being arrested by an Israeli soldier at a demonstration in Nabi Saleh, August 28, 2015. (Karam Saleem)

At the same time, two other soldiers were busy arresting a Palestinian and an Italian activist with the International Solidarity Movement, both of whom are currently still in detention.

“The soldiers came out of nowhere, and no one realized what was happening. They were masked and had no gear, only a rifle,” Karam Saleem, a photojournalist who witnessed the event, told +972.

Bassem Tamimi, Mohammed’s father, told +972 that Ahed and Nariman had to be taken to hospital after the demonstration in which they were assaulted by the soldier. Bassem’s other son, Salam, was also shot in the foot with a rubber bullet.

Family members Nariman and Ahed Tamimi reiterated that the village is struggling for humanity, justice, peace and dignity, and that they need their freedom.

In a statement, the IDF claimed that Mohammed had been throwing stones, a claim denied by an Israeli activist who was present. The statement also claims that the soldier did not realize he was dealing with a minor.

The day after the incident, Manal Tamimi, a prominent activist in the village, received a message online threatening that her home would be burnt down in a “price tag” attack (link contains graphic language).

Nabi Saleh has seen a sharp increase in violence in recent months over Israeli settlers’ annexation of the village well. Manal Tamimi was shot in the leg with live ammunition during a recent demonstration, and Nariman Tamimi was on crutches for a number of months after being shot in the leg with live ammunition last November.

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Bilal Tamimi, the journalist who recorded yesterday’s events, was arrested last week along with two Israelis and eventually released without charge after a judge ruled the arrest should never have occurred.

A house in the village was recently demolished and IDF soldiers stationed at the village have also been caught on camera throwing stones at photojournalists and firing tear gas canisters directly at protesters–at the same spot where Mustafa Tamimi was killed four years ago when a gas canister struck him in the face.

UPDATE (Aug 30): On August 29th, the day after the incident, the IDF filed a complaint with the Israeli Police. Officials from the Samaria and Judea District police force told the Hebrew-language news website 0404 that “the attackers are well-known and will be arrested soon.”

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Why a pro-settler group wants to talk about ISIS http://972mag.com/why-a-pro-settler-group-discusses-isis-destructions-of-antiquities/111089/ http://972mag.com/why-a-pro-settler-group-discusses-isis-destructions-of-antiquities/111089/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:57:50 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=111089 An Israeli group working in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan is presenting ISIS destruction of antiquities as a cautionary tale for its own struggle with Palestinians.

By Yonathan Mizrachi

Archaeological dig at City of David (rachelsharon/CC BY NC ND 2.0)

Archaeological dig at City of David (rachelsharon/CC BY NC ND 2.0)

A group that manages the City of David’s archaeological site in the heart of the village of Silwan in East Jerusalem, the “Elad Foundation in the City of David,” is holding its annual archeology conference, entitled “ISIS: Is it possible to stop the destruction?” It will deal in part with the destruction of antiquities in Iraq and Syria.

That the so-called ISIS group is destroying ancient ruins is indisputable. The organization documents it with videos and is proud of what it sees as symbolic conquests. Just this week the destruction of a major temple in the biblical city of Tadmor (Palmyra) in Syria was reported. But the conference title implies that aside from concern for antiquities and heritage, someone is also considering measures to prevent the destruction.

Elad is not interested in the destruction of antiquities in Iraq, but rather, here, in Silwan, on the Temple Mount, and in East Jerusalem. They say “ISIS” but the intention is perceived here in Jerusalem as “Islamic extremists.” Israeli organizations has not prevented the destruction of antiquities in Iraq and Syria, and, so far, neither has the international community. However, if we focus on the Israeli discourse on the destruction of antiquities, then, according to Elad there is much to be done.  The group has seen itself for a long time now to be on the forefront of fighting Muslims’ destruction of ancient ruins.

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After construction undertaken by the Islamic Waqf led to the destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif in the 1990s, it was Elad which invested funds and acted to sift the debris dumped into the Kidron Valley. To this day, it is one of the key projects that Elad finances and operates in East Jerusalem. But this activity, presented as an attempt to rescue the antiquities of the Temple Mount, has no archeological value and its importance is primarily educational and political, both in terms of having archaeologists engaged in sifting through the dirt, and with its links to settlers in East Jerusalem.

The message is clear: Muslims aims to destroy antiquities and Israel intervenes to prevent such atrocities.

Elad’s main struggle is to control Silwan. It operates the City of David archaeological site as a means of strengthening its grip on the village and presenting itself as an archaeological body interested in the ancient heritage of Jerusalem. In the eyes of the settlers who live in Silwan, only Elad is able to protect the antiquities. The Palestinians, they claim, are uninterested in them, or likely to harm the archaeological site once Israelis leave.

ISIS’ destruction of antiquities is raising fundamental questions about the relationship between archaeology and the western presence in the Middle East, such as, how the West makes use of archeology and who is responsible for antiquities and heritage sites. Archaeology began with colonialism in the Middle East in the early 19th century. In the past, the West saw a need to explore the sites and transfer the archaeological remains to its own palaces and museums. Later on, these ancient sites became part of the sovereign states wherein they were located. But even then, most of the research was done by western universities and the majority of visitors came from the West. The antiquities trade is also based on western customers who buy stolen antiquities from dealer coming from Arab countries.

From the 18th to the early 20th century, excavations were done without a coherent method, with an objective of finding valuable artifacts. These excavations damaged ancient sites as well as our ability to understand their evolution and history. Until the arrival of colonialism in the Middle East, a significant portion of the sites remained intact for thousands of years.

While archaeological research has long disregarded many of the methods used in past centuries, in Jerusalem, the Elad-funded Israel Antiquities Authority still considers them as legitimate tools in Silwan and in the Old City. For example, in the Givati Parking Lot excavations, the IAA removed Muslim layers, and excavated using tunnels and in underground spaces–methods that destroy antiquities and have been discontinued a century ago.

What the West did and sometimes is still doing in the name of the law or under rules it has devised and which are ostensibly in place to preserve heritage sites, ISIS does in front of cameras in the form of documented destruction. ISIS is destroying antiquities perceived to be part of a legacy of heresy and association with the West.

ISIS and right-wing organizations in Israel and the West are using archaeology for the same purpose–to distinguish themselves from others and to portray a division between ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ In conservative circles in the West that see Islam as a threat, the shock from the destruction of antiquities is related to the perception of the gap between the two cultures.

It is easy to forget that the Palestinians are not ISIS, that Elad is not a protector of antiquities as it presents itself to be, and that Jerusalem is a city whose heritage is shared. No matter how many ancient sites are being destroyed in the war in Syria or Iraq, it is here in Jerusalem where joint preservation of the relics of the past will ensure the future of those places and our ability to respect and accept one other.

Yonathan Mizrachi is an archaeologist and director of Emek Shaveh, an organization which deals with the role of archeology in the political conflict and in Israeli society

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Settlers take over East Jerusalem home in the dead of night http://972mag.com/settlers-take-over-east-jerusalem-home-in-the-dead-of-night/111098/ http://972mag.com/settlers-take-over-east-jerusalem-home-in-the-dead-of-night/111098/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:40:05 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=111098 In the latest of a number of home takeovers in Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, settlers took up residence in a home they said belonged to Jews before the establishment of the state of Israel.

A Jewish settlement is seen in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, East Jerusalem, March 28, 2007. (Activestills.org)

A Jewish settlement is seen in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, East Jerusalem, March 28, 2007. (Activestills.org)

A group of Israeli settlers moved into an apartment building in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Thursday.

The group of at least 20 belongs to the Ateret Cohanim settler organization, which purchases properties in neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and has taken legal action in order to evict the Palestinian owners of those buildings.

In this latest case, it claimed that the white stone, five story building was located on land belong to a historical Jewish real estate association established a century ago by the Yemenite Jewish community of Jerusalem.

One Palestinian family of eleven, headed by Jawaf Abu Sneineh, remained in their apartment, claiming that they had already paid the year’s rent. They are reportedly still living there, though they say they are afraid of the settler residents above them, according to the Associated Press.

The late night move almost doubled the number of Jewish settlers in the neighborhood and added to already high tensions regarding disputes over land ownership in the area.

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Silwan is currently home to several hundred Jewish settlers and some 50,000 Palestinians. It is an impoverished area just on the outskirts of the Old City of Jerusalem, and it has been the target of the Ateret Cohanim organization in recent months.

Palestinians have frequently resisted the eviction orders in court, where they say the Jewish Israelis are almost always given preference.

Many of the takeovers of Palestinian homes have taken place in the dead of night, in the efforts to “avoid unnecessary friction with some of the local Arabs during the day,” according to a statement released by Ateret Cohanim.

The settlers, holding just as many bags as they could carry, as they quietly made their way through the alleys, were accompanied by armed soldiers–a move that critics say only further exacerbates the tensions.

Americans for Peace Now president and CEO Debra DeLee condemned the takeover and said in a statement, “By not blocking the settlers’ hostile takeover of assets in a Palestinian neighborhood, Israeli authorities are fanning the flames of violence and supporting the extremists who strive to thwart a future Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.”

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PHOTOS: Construction for Jewish town to replace Bedouin village draws ire http://972mag.com/photos-construction-for-jewish-town-to-replace-bedouin-village-draws-ire/111065/ http://972mag.com/photos-construction-for-jewish-town-to-replace-bedouin-village-draws-ire/111065/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 17:18:45 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=111065 Israel is moving forward with a controversial plan to outright replace a Bedouin village with a Jewish town in the Negev/Naqab.

Protesters march as construction begins for Jewish town to  replace Bedouin village. August 27, 2015 (Amjad Iraqi)

Protesters march as construction begins for Jewish town to replace Bedouin village. August 27, 2015 (Tom Mehager / Adalah)

About 200 Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel took part in a demonstration on Thursday in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in southern Israel, where the state plans to destroy the village and replace it with a new Jewish town called ‘Hiran.’

The protestors chanted slogans, such as, “No to demolitions,” and “No to racism,” and some took to social media to share images and posts under the hashtag #Save_UmAlHiran. A number of members of the Knesset Joint Arab List joined in solidarity with those demanding that Israel respect the Bedouins’ right to stay on their land.

Protesters march as construction begins for Jewish town to  replace Bedouin village. August 27, 2015 (Amjad Iraqi)

Protesters march as construction begins for Jewish town to replace Bedouin village. August 27, 2015 (Amjad Iraqi / Adalah)

Earlier this week, Israeli construction workers moved tractors onto the village hilltop,  just a few hundred meters away from the Bedouin families’ homes. The protestors marched uphill to the construction site, where policemen had set up fences in anticipation of the protest.

According to one of the workers at the site, the authorities have begun to clear the area in order to set up temporary housing for the Jewish families that are expected to move into the new town. Most of these families are currently living in an encampment in the nearby Yatir forest, supplied with electricity and water and sponsored by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The idea, it appears, is to move the new Jewish inhabitants closer to the land in order to hasten the building process and pressure the Bedouin residents to leave.

Protesters march as construction begins for Jewish town to replace Bedouin village. August 27, 2015 (Amjad Iraqi / Adalah)

Protesters march as construction begins for Jewish town to replace Bedouin village. August 27, 2015 (Amjad Iraqi / Adalah)

This is despite the fact that the villagers have filed a legal motion to the Israeli Supreme Court demanding a second hearing and reconsideration of its ruling in May 2015 which approved the state’s plans to evict the 700 Bedouin villagers and build the Jewish town of Hiran. Adalah, which has represented the villagers in the Israeli courts for 12 years, has warned that the Court’s ruling “permits the implementation of further plans to dispossess and displace the Bedouin of the Naqab/Negev [region of Israel], such as the Prawer Plan.”

Contrary to the state’s longstanding claims, the Abu al-Qi’an tribe are not trespassers on the land. The Israeli military government transferred them there in 1956, after it displaced them from their original home in Khirbet Zubaleh in 1948. This fact was affirmed by the Supreme Court as well as the lower courts.

Protesters march as construction begins for Jewish town to   replace Bedouin village. August 27, 2015. (Amjad Iraqi / Adalah)

Protesters march as construction begins for Jewish town to replace Bedouin village. August 27, 2015. (Amjad Iraqi / Adalah)

Nonetheless, the Court asserted that the state had the right to retrieve the land, and the villagers were being amply compensated by being moved to Hura, a recognized township mired in its own housing crisis and other social problems. Umm al-Hiran’s sister village, Atir, home to about 300 residents, is also to be displaced and its land used to expand the man-made Yatir Forest.

Raed Abu al-Qi’an, a resident and activist from the village, told +972, “The government has no problem with Jewish citizens living on this property – so why should they have a problem with us? They allow rural communities to be built for Jews across the Negev – why not us?”

Protesters march as construction begins for Jewish town to   replace Bedouin village. August 27, 2015. (Amjad Iraqi / Adalah)

Protesters march as construction begins for Jewish town to replace Bedouin village. August 27, 2015. (Amjad Iraqi / Adalah)

Embracing his young son, standing next to him, Raed added, “We have always said, and continue to say, that we have no objections to Jewish families living here or nearby us – but not in place of us. That is racism and injustice.”

Protesters march as construction begins for Jewish town to replace Bedouin village. August 27, 2015 (Amjad Iraqi / Adalah)

Protesters march as construction begins for Jewish town to replace Bedouin village. August 27, 2015 (Amjad Iraqi / Adalah)

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WATCH: Israeli, Palestinian women ‘fast for peace’ http://972mag.com/watch-israeli-palestinian-women-fast-for-peace/111049/ http://972mag.com/watch-israeli-palestinian-women-fast-for-peace/111049/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:50:38 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=111049 To mark the anniversary of last summer’s Gaza war, a group of Jewish and Palestinian women from the “Women Wage Peace” movement launched a “protest fast” in a tent outside the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem. The women have been criticized for choosing to present themselves as part of a political movement. However, the group believes that one cannot talk about “peace” without occupation, and cannot demand peace negotiations without recognizing the right of another nation to live here.

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