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German bank shuts down account belonging to Jewish peace group

Bank für Sozialwirtschaft tells members of Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, which includes a number of Israelis, that its account has been closed due to their support for BDS.

Can a Jewish organization with Israeli members be considered anti-Semitic? Is it the job of a German bank to make that call? According to Bank für Sozialwirtschaft (Bank for Social Economy) the answer to those two questions is a resounding yes.

Six weeks ago members of the group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, based in Germany, received a message from their bank that their account was being closed, without any additional explanations. The organization, which was founded as a local chapter of European Jews for a Just Peace (EJJP), a federation of Jewish groups aimed at bringing about peace in the Middle East and ensuring human rights for Palestinians. (Full disclosure: Inna Michaeli, who serves on +972’s board, is also a member of the group.)

Only after the bank’s surprising decision to close the account did the organization’s board members discover an article published by Benjamin Weinthal that had been published earlier in the Jerusalem Post. Weinthal’s article described how various Jewish groups asked the bank to close Jewish Voice’s account, allegedly due to its support for the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement. The bank provides services to various civil society groups, including a number of Jewish groups, such as the Jewish National Fund (JNF-KKL) in Germany (the Central Welfare Board of Jews in Germany owns 0.7 percent of the bank’s stock). German law allows banks to shut down their clients’ accounts without explanation.

Following protests by Jewish Voice activists, supported by members of the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, the bank agreed to meet with the organization. “We met with the head and spokesperson of the bank and explained to them that we are a Jewish organization with many Israeli members, and that we cannot be anti-Israel,” says Shir Hever, an Israeli who lives in Germany and serves on Jewish Voice’s board. “We said that our support for BDS is general, as a nonviolent campaign for human rights, and that we support actions directed at companies that directly profit from the occupation, and that even our platform includes support for two states.”

Alleged support for Hamas

The bank was unconvinced. On Tuesday the bank published a statement according to...

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One week later: Where is the evidence of an 'arson intifada?'

The police has yet to declare a single wildfire an act of terrorism, the commissioner says arson is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and many cases of suspected terrorism turned out to be nothing more than negligence. This, of course, does not bother Israel’s leaders or media.

Now that the rain has started pouring, bringing an end to the wildfire season, it is imperative that we stop and look back at just what happened last week — before everything is forgotten. Or worse: before everything that happened is remembered as a story of terrorist attacks by Arab citizens against Jews.

Only a week ago did Israel’s biggest media outlets publish headlines such as “The arson intifada” (Ynet), “A wave of arsons” (Yedioth Ahronoth), and “Dozens of fire attacks” (Makor Rishon). Ministers competed over who could most harshly condemn the supposed arsonists and with proposed laws, including the usual calls for demolishing homes and revoking citizenship. Social media was full of calls for revenge, which were then given full backing by MK Oren Hazan (Likud), when he stood before the Knesset Wednesday, lit a lighter and said [Hebrew]: “It is time that we give them what they deserve… an eye for an eye is not something far from reality.”

Last Friday the police made a relatively unusual political announcement, calling on the Arab leadership to work and put an end to the arsons. This, after Joint List MKs and mayors of Arab towns and cities made clear that there is no place for sweeping accusations against Arabs until the fires were proven to be the result of arson. Arab leaders, suffice it to say, issued condemnations ahead of time. Even the Palestinian Authority sent eight fire trucks to help put out the flames.

Just a few days ago opposition leader Isaac Herzog began attacking the government [Hebrew] for being ill-prepared to deal with arson attacks. This is how a story becomes the truth.

‘We told them how simple it was’

But what do we actually know about this wave of wildfires? We know that there were 1773 different fires according to the Israel Fire and Rescue Services. The police were called to 90 of these “events,” 40 of which were investigated for a number of crimes (including negligence, as well as arson and attempted arson). The Israel Tax Authority announced that nine of the fires will be counted as nationalistically-motived arsons, yet the police and the Fire and...

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Israeli conscientious objectors sent to military prison for second time

The two young women already spent seven days in prison for refusing to take part in the occupation.

An IDF tribunal sentenced two Israeli conscientious objectors, Tamar Alon and Tamar Ze’evi, to 10 days in military prison on Monday for refusing to serve in the Israeli occupation.

Two weeks ago, the young women declared their conscientious objection at the Israeli army’s Tel Hashomer induction base, saying that they refuse to take part in the oppression of the Palestinian people. They were sentenced to seven days in military prison at the time.

At the end of their current prison stint, the two will be released for the weekend, after which they will be required to once again present themselves at the induction base.

They will then likely declare their refusal once again, and be handed a third prison sentence, a cycle that can repeat itself for months on end.

Israeli law allows for conscientious objection, but in practice it is only ever accepted on grounds of pacifism, not for political reasons, a category in which the IDF includes opposing the occupation.

Tamar Ze’evi and Tamar Alon are both asking to perform an alternative civilian national service instead of military service.

“From a young age I met my parents’ Palestinian friends — I met people who are supposed to be my enemies who smiled at me, played with me, and spoke with me,” wrote Tamar Alon in a declaration ahead of her refusal.

“I can’t accept the claim that the oppression of another people, the denial of basic human rights, and racism and hate are necessary for the existence of State of Israel,” she continued.

Tamar Ze’evi, in her refusal statement, wrote: “On the one hand, it’s my legal and societal obligation, which I always intended and expected to fulfill — the right to safeguard the security of my home and the people most dear to me.”

“But on the other hand,” she continued, “is a childhood in the shadow of terror attacks and wars real security? What about the security of those human beings on the other side of the walls? Am I, as a daughter of the people controlling the another people, responsible for their well-being? Where is the line where we stop collaborating, have we already crossed it?”

“I am not willing to lend a hand to a situation in which two peoples are living in fear of each...

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How Israel thanks (or doesn't) Palestine for helping put out fires

The Palestinian Authority contributed eight firetrucks and 40 firefighters to combat the fire in Haifa. All they got was a footnote.

The Israel Embassy in the U.S. published a thank you message on its Facebook page on Friday dedicated to all the countries that helped put out the wildfires raging across the country. Under the headline “Israel is thankful” — right on time for Thanksgiving — every country that sent firefighting crews was awarded a small image of plane with its flag. As can be seen above, countries such as the U.S., Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan were given this honor. Even countries that expressed their willingness to help, such as Portugal or Belarus, were mentioned.

Only the Palestinian Authority — which sent eight fire trucks and 40 firefighters to help put out the flames in the northern city of Haifa — was somehow forgotten. Or to be more precise, the PA was mentioned in a small footnote on the bottom right of the image, without a flag or a plane of its own — only the words: “Ground assistance received also from the Palestinian Authority.”

Maybe it’s because they don’t have a supertanker?

[Update, 7:40 p.m.: Two days after Palestinian firefighters were sent to help put out the fires, Prime Minister Netanyahu phones Mahmoud Abbas to thank him for the help.]

Before the fires are out, Israeli politicians blame the Arabs
No fires or inciting politicians can destroy our shared society

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Palestinian journalist to remain in admin detention, Israeli army decides

Omar Nazzal has spent seven consecutive months in detention with no charges, a formal indictment or a scheduled court hearing.

The Israeli army extended the administrative detention of Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal for the third straight time on Monday for a period of three months. Nazzal was first arrested in April and has spent a total of seven consecutive months in detention with no charges, a formal indictment or a scheduled court hearing.

Nazzal was first detained in April at Allenby Bridge while trying to leave the West Bank en route to an international conference.

The Israeli army and Shin Bet Security Service claim that he is affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which Israel views as a terrorist organization. Nazzal denies the charge and demands either to be sentenced or released. According to his lawyer, Nazzal was jailed by Israel for criticizing the Palestinian Authority over its handling of an assassination at its embassy in Bulgaria.

Administrative detention is an extreme measure meant to be adopted rarely and with moderation. Administrative detainees are held indefinitely without charge or trial — without any way to defend themselves.

Journalists’ associations worldwide have condemned Nazzal’s detention and called for his imminent release. In response to the army’s decision, Phillipe Leruth, the president of the International Federation of Journalists, said that “Israel’s policy of administrative detention is a violation of human rights, of the right to a fair trial, and the presumption of innocence. We are very disturbed by the fact that Israeli authorities continue with this policy and extends it without limits.”

Meanwhile two Palestinian men being held by Israel under administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, have reached a life-threatening stage in their hunger strikes.

Ahmad Abu Farah, 29, and Anas Shadid, 20, have been on hunger strike for 61 and 58 days, respectively, in protest of being held without charge or trial. They are both hospitalized at Asaf Harofeh Medical Center in central Israel, and are both in serious condition, according to Atty. Ahlam Hadad.

On Monday, the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the pair’s administrative detention orders frozen as long as their medical condition remains serious, but the two say they are continuing their hunger strikes until the detention orders are canceled entirely.

Administrative detention is intended for only the most extreme and rare of circumstances because it violates the most basic...

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Two Palestinian hunger strikers' lives in danger, court says

The two men have refused food for two months. Israel’s top court froze their administrative detention (imprisonment without charge or trial) until their health improves, but Ahmad Abu Farah and Anas Shahid say that’s not enough.

Two Palestinian men being held by Israel under administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, have reached a life-threatening stage in their hunger strikes.

Ahmad Abu Farah, 29, and Anas Shadid, 20, have been on hunger strike for 61 and 58 days, respectively, in protest of being held without charge or trial. They are both hospitalized at Asaf Harofeh Medical Center in central Israel, and are both in serious condition, according to Atty. Ahlam Hadad.

On Monday, the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the pair’s administrative detention orders frozen as long as their medical condition remains serious, but the two say they are continuing their hunger strikes until the detention orders are canceled entirely.

Ahmad Abu Farah was arrested on August 2, and Israeli military authorities issued an administrative detention order against him several days later. The vague Israeli accusations against him are that he is an activist with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and that he poses a danger to the area.

Shadid was arrested a day before Abu Farah, was interrogated about several Facebook posts he published, and after Israeli authorities decided not to charge him with a crime they decided to put him under administrative detention. The accusation against him is that he is involved in “violent terrorist activities,” as Supreme Court Justice Uzi Fogelman phrased it.

Shadid and Abu Farah both reject the accusations against them.

Administrative detainees, by virtue of not facing a formal indictment or trial, have no opportunity to defend themselves against the state’s accusations. Often times they have no idea what the specific accusations are, or from what incident or activity they stem. Administrative detention orders are valid for up to six months, but can be renewed indefinitely.

The two men’s medical condition has seriously deteriorated over the past few days, according to Hadad, who said they are drinking only water and refusing all food and supplements. They both have been occasionally losing consciousness and are suffering from severe pain, muscle loss, and loss of vision.

Abu Farah is suffering from sharp stomach pains, and Shadid’s heart has become irregular and is starting to lose liver function, Hadad said, adding that doctors have warned there is a...

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Because BDS, Israeli archeologists want West Bank work kept secret

An Israeli court rejects a freedom of information request for the names of archeologists digging, under IDF license, in the occupied territories, and where Israel is storing the antiquities they uncover. The reason: so they don’t face academic boycott.

The Jerusalem District Court on Monday refused to reveal the names of archeologists performing digs at antiquities sites in the occupied West Bank, as is the practice of the Israel Antiquities Authority inside the Green Line. The reason: the archeologists’ (and the State’s) fear of academic boycotts, and the difficulties it would pose for ongoing (Israeli) archeological projects in the occupied territories.

The decision was issued in response to a petition filed by human rights organization Yesh Din and archeology NGO Emek Shaveh, against the Israeli military government in the West Bank (the Civil Administration) and the staff officer of its Archeology Department, who are responsible for issuing licenses for archeological excavations in the occupied territory. The petitioners sought information that the military refused to provide as part of a freedom of information request, mainly the names of the archeologists, and where Israeli authorities store antiquities they uncover in the West Bank.

The main thrust of District Court Judge Yigal Marzel’s decision dealt with releasing the names of the archeologists. Judge Marzel recognized the importance of publishing their names, as is customary inside Israel, partly for reasons of transparency, but also because the findings of the excavations are often published academically — which requires publishing one’s name.

However, the State managed to convince Judge Marzel that the archeologists, who testified in an ex parte hearing (without the presence of the petitioners), that publishing their names would pose a real threat of academic boycott due to their work in the occupied territories under a license issued by the military regime.

The State claimed there is also a risk that the archeologists would be unable to publish in international academic journals, and that foreign academics would refuse to work with them in future research or refuse to invite them to conferences, thereby harming their professional careers.

Therefore, the court ruled, the personal risk to the archeologists and to the future of their research is enough to justify not publishing their names. Some of the archeologists did agree to their names being given to the petitioners, and they were.

The court also rejected the petitioners’ request for information about where Israel stores the uncovered antiquities....

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The different ways Israel treats Jewish, Palestinian outposts in the West Bank

Palestinian activists protest Israeli attempts to ‘legalize’ settlement outposts by erecting one of their own. Unlike two nearby Jewish outposts, however, the Israeli army demolishes the Palestinian camp within hours.

Dozens of Palestinian activists erected an “outpost” in the Jordan Valley Thursday, in protest of recent Israeli army demolitions of Palestinian homes in the area, a marked contrast to a de facto military decision to allow the establishment of two new Jewish settlement outposts nearby. The Israeli army has not demolished either of the two Jewish outposts despite the fact that itself says they were illegally built.

It only took a few hours before significant numbers of Israeli troops arrived at the new Palestinian outpost on Thursday, forcefully removing the protesters.

Six Palestinian activists were wounded and required medical treatment at a hospital. The security forces also arrested two Israeli activists and were filmed striking press cameramen. The two Israelis were released within 24 hours.

The outpost, named after Yasser Arafat in order to mark Palestinian independence day, was demolished by the army. The two nearby Jewish outposts are still standing.

“The army has demolished homes in Khirbet al-Hama many times over the past few months, and at the same time settlers erected new outposts in the area,” said Abdullah Abu Rahme, an activist with the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, which organized the nonviolent action.

“We tried getting the courts to remove the settlers but it didn’t work,” Abu Rahme continued, adding that the protest action was a response to the the Israeli Knesset’s advancement of a law that, if passed, would legalize settlement outposts earlier this week.

“When the soldiers arrived [at the protest ‘outpost’] we told them that if they remove us they must first remove the settlers,” Abu Rahme, an organizer from the West Bank village of Bil’in, added. “We will continue, through nonviolent means, to get across our message opposing these outposts.”

Haaretz’s Amira Hass has reported in recent weeks on the existence of the two new Jewish settlement outposts, and how despite knowing of their existence, the Israeli army has done nothing to remove them. The Israeli army has not, however, stopped demolishing West Bank structures it considers illegal. Over this past year, 2016, Israeli authorities have demolished more Palestinian homes and structures than any other year in...

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Israeli army jails two new conscientious objectors

Dozens accompany the two young women as they declare their refusal to serve in the occupation.

Two Israeli conscientious objectors declared their refusal to serve in the occupation Wednesday morning at the IDF’s Tel Hashomer induction base outside Tel Aviv. The two young women, Tamar Alon of Tel Aviv and Tamar Ze’evi of Jerusalem, are expected to be sentenced to military prison within a matter of hours, after which they will be sent back to the induction base where they can be sentenced to another stint in prison — a cycle which can continue for months.

[Update: A military tribunal sentenced Alon and Ze’evi to two days in prison each, after which they will be brought back for another hearing and possible sentencing.]

Around 80 supporters accompanied the two conscientious objectors to the military induction base, carrying supportive signs and calling out slogans demanding the pair’s release and the end of Israel’s military rule over the Palestinians. The solidarity protest was organized by the “Mesarvot” (the Hebrew word for “refusers,” in the female tense). Among the protesters was Member of Knesset Yousef Jabareen, who called the two refuseniks “a ray of light” in dark times, noting how symbolic it is that they declared their refusal on the same day the Knesset is expected to vote on a law that would retroactively legalize the theft of Palestinian land.

Also speaking at the solidarity protest was conscientious objector Tair Kaminer, who spent five months in military prison earlier this year for her refusal to serve in the occupation. Kaminer told the new objectors that as they enter prison a silence will fall upon them, but they should remember that their actions are actually breaking that silence and that they will draw support from all over the world.

The protest caught the attention of many other Israeli youngsters who were being drafted into the army on the same day, as well as their friends and families who gathered to see them off. Some of them cursed and spat at the refuseniks and their supporters, and accused them of treason. Police separated the two sides. One young man accompanying a friend as he was drafted, told the two refuseniks that they are ignoring the fact that “the IDF is the most moral army in the world.”

Tamar Alon and Tamar Ze’evi, who are asking to perform civilian national service instead of military...

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WATCH: Israeli band marks Palestinian independence day in new video

The video for MALOX’s new single, ‘Gaza Trip,’ features parkour athletes performing among homes destroyed during the 2014 Gaza war. 

Israeli music group MALOX released a music video for their song Gaza Trip on Tuesday, the title track from their album that came out early this year. The video, according to the group, is a tribute to Palestinian independence day, which falls on November 15, features Parkour athletes from the Gaza Strip.

Parkour, a training discipline using movement that developed from military obstacle course training, has become a big hit in both Gaza and the West Bank over the past few years. Athletes describe it as an opportunity to feel and imagine liberation and freedom of movement in a reality of siege.

“We recorded the song when I was living in Kibbutz Tze’elim and could hear everything that was happening in Gaza nearby,” says Eyal Talmudi, one of the band members. “We began collaborating with Israeli m ECHO, and we had the idea to bring the sights of Gaza to our songs. Israel’s treatment of Palestine troubles me greatly, and it is part of our role as artists to talk about the occupation and restrictions on movement.

“The problem is that even with relatively catchy music, we are not able to reach the mainstream if we touch this subject. Like every band we work with a PR person, and we have yet to find journalists who will write about a song having to do with Gaza. It doesn’t excite them, and news outlets treat it as a subject they would prefer not to touch. But it is important for us to give these parkour athletes the spotlight.”

The video, which features parkour troupe 3run (filmed with their approval) include shots of them practicing among homes that were destroyed in the 2014 war — including one shot with featuring explosions filmed at the time of the war — as well as other locations in the Strip.

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

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The war that cemented Israel’s place in the Middle East

The 1956 Sinai War was Israel’s first war as an established state, and followed eight years of hints at the possibility of peace. In the eyes of its Arab neighbors, the ’56 war aligned Israel with the former colonial powers, setting the stage for decades of hostility and war.

“The military attack on Egypt caused Israel unfathomable damage to its international status and security. The operation presented Israel to the entire world as an aggressor. It also presented Israel at the forefront of international colonialism in the Middle East.

The attack on Egypt blocked the road to peace with the Arab peoples with insurmountable stumbling blocks. Nobody now will conduct peace negotiations with Israel and no one will take seriously Israeli talk about readiness for peace.”

— Moshe Sneh, at the end of the 1956 Sinai War

It has been exactly 60 years since Israel’s 1956 Sinai War. Its standing as the most forgotten and under-considered conflict in the Israeli public consciousness belies the fact that it is one of the most important developments in Israel’s relations with the Arab world. It was the first war following that which accompanied Israel’s founding in 1948, but its dramatic implications remain largely undiscussed.

As Moshe Sneh pointed out, the war’s greatest consequence was the near-total destruction of what had, in the wake of the 1948 war, been a tentative readiness on the part of Arab countries to reach a peace agreement with Israel. In the years leading up to the Sinai War, various states made peace proposals relatively frequently, albeit under the table (and some of which remain unknown). But the conflict in 1956 put a stop to such proposals, and it would be almost 20 years after the end of the Sinai War before a peace deal was struck. The war also proved to be the last nail in the coffin for relations between Egypt and its ancient Jewish community.

Israel’s official version of events regarding the Sinai War is relatively straightforward: it came as the state was grappling not only with fedayeen infiltrating the country from Gaza (as well as from Jordan and Syria) and murdering Israeli citizens, but also a naval blockade in the Straits of Tiran and Suez Canal. On top of all this, Egypt had just signed a major weapons deal with Czechoslovakia that “undermined the balance of arms” in the region, according to the Israel...

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IDF soldiers shoot flare at teen's face, killing him

Israeli soldiers fire illumination flares, at a direct trajectory, at stone-throwers along the Gaza border. A 15-year-old boy is killed. The IDF says it’s conducting an ‘inquiry.’

Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian teenager by shooting a military-grade illumination flare directly at him, shattering and setting his face on fire last month, according to investigations by B’Tselem, Defence of Children International — Palestine (DCI), and video footage seen by +972 Magazine.

The killing took place on September 9, when a group of roughly 100 Palestinian youths staged a demonstration near the border fence with Israel, east of al-Bureij Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip. Some of the protesters threw stones toward the Israeli soldiers and attempted to cut the barbed wire near the fence. The soldiers initially responded with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets.

Video shot at the scene, which we are unable to publish here, shows that the soldiers do not appear to be in any sort of danger. The soldiers stood on the other side of the fence, some dodging the occasional stone while others sat inside armored vehicles that were entirely unaffected by the stones.

Quite unusually, however, at some point the soldiers also fired illumination flares, which were fired toward the protesters in an attempt to disperse the demonstration.

Illumination flares are used by some military units to to illuminate large areas during nighttime military operations, or in order to mark targets. They are shot out of a rifle-mounted launcher at a high trajectory, and a small parachute deploys as the flare itself illuminates the ground below for less than a minute.

Illumination flares are not intended for firing at a direct trajectory, or to for use as a weapon or crowd dispersal tactic. It is highly unusual to see them used against people.

In this case, however, the video clearly shows that the illumination flares were shot directly at the protesters, despite the fact that the minor clashes were taking place in the light of day. In one of the video clips, the flare can be seen burning for a short period, after which the Palestinian youths pick it up while the parachute is still attached.

It was exactly that type of flare that appears to have been fired directly at the face of 15-year-old Abdel-Rahman al-Dabbagh. In the video (a screenshot of which appears above), al-Dabbagh is seen lying on the ground with smoke and fire streaming from his face,...

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Following murder, hundreds of Arab women march against gender violence

Hundreds protest the murder of a woman before her children’s eyes. While some of the male demonstrators preferred to focus on police inaction and racism, the women demanded to speak about what is actually happening inside Arab society.

By Haggai Matar and Hagar Shezaf

Around 500 women and men marched Friday afternoon in the city of Lod to protest the gender violence and murder of women in Arab society.

The march, which began in Lod’s old city and ended in a vigil outside the old municipality building, marked a week since the murder of Dua’a Abu Sharkh — a murder that sparked the largest-ever women’s protest movement, what Samah Salaime termed a “women’s intifada.” Both the protest and the vigil mark the height of the community involvement in Lod in the struggle against gender violence in Arab society, the result of the hard work of local women’s organization, Na’am.

The daughters and family members of murder victims marched while wearing shirts with the names of the dead printed on their shirt, along with the sentence: “The murderer roams free.” Joint List MKs Aida Touma-Sliman, Haneen Zoabi, Bassel Ghattas and Osama Sa’adi all marched, along with hundreds of other supporters, alongside the family members. The demonstrators shouted slogans against police inaction, blaming them for solving crimes committed against Jews only.

Dua’a Abu Sharkh, a mother of four who was 32 at the time her death, was murdered last Friday while in her car. She was shot while returning her children to her husband, from whom she was divorced. The family claims that he had threatened Dua’a in the past. The demonstrators have been holding daily protests outside Lod’s police station, demanding that the police take action and catch the killer.

“Usually the media and the police claim the murder was an ‘honor killing,’ but people today came to say that they reject this line of thinking, one that we have been hearing for years,” said Fida Shahada, one of the demonstrators. “We do not accept this message, and we demand that the real killer is found, as well as all the killers who are walking free. We ask that the media stop using the term ‘honor killing.’

“We see how the police catches people who steal phones and leak privates photos. But it’s impossible for them to solve a murder?” added Shayma Abu Sharkh, Dua’a’s sister. “A telephone is more important than...

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