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michael sfard

  • Rights groups to Israel's top court: Home demolitions are collective punishment

    Within the legal community, Israel’s High Court and the state attorneys are isolated and alone in thinking that home demolitions are an acceptable practice, the petitioners argue. No date is set for a decision in the case. Demolishing the homes of suspected — or convicted — Palestinian terrorists amounts to collective punishment that in some cases could constitute a grave breach of international law, a group of Israeli human rights organizations argued before the High Court of Justice on Wednesday. The people most affected by home demolitions are the suspect's family members, who have committed no crime themselves. In many cases,…

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  • Not even a 'bump on the wing' these days when killing Palestinians

    No one in Israel really talks about the killing of innocent Palestinians anymore. There was a time when we murdered people and it actually bothered us. On Tuesday, the IDF attempted to kill Mohammed Deif, the military leader of Hamas in Gaza, by dropping five one-tonne bombs on a home. As these lines are written it is not yet clear whether Deif was killed. What can be said with certainty, however, is that his wife and eight-month-old son definitely were. Deif has been on Israel’s wanted list for years. On Tuesday night it saw a chance, and despite the fact…

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  • PHOTOS: Gaza's half-million internally displaced

    Photos by: Basel Yazouri and Anne Paq/Activestills.org Text by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler The most commonly cited statistic from Gaza is the death toll, now rising past 1,814, according to UN figures. Such numbers can be numbing, as absorbing the reality of so many faces and names is impossible. Yet another staggering figure that is difficult to comprehend is the number of people displaced from their homes, which the UN estimates at 520,000. Gaza's half-million displaced residents are one of the most obvious refutations of the the accusation that Hamas uses "human shields." The Guardian has reported "large numbers of people fleeing…

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  • When 'security' means training in a Muslim cemetery

    It turns out that the IDF's legal division has no problem with soldiers holding training drills in a Palestinian graveyard. By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz Last Thursday, Yesh Din field investigators filmed our brave troops while they were training in a Muslim graveyard in Hebron. Here are the images (extended video at end of post): http://youtu.be/1p-2Nu2CpWM One is pressed to imagine greater callousness of heart: turning a graveyard, a place on which every society places many taboos and much sensitivity, into a place where soldiers practice. And it ought to be mentioned they are training mostly for operations…

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  • ‘The peace process has become a major enemy of human rights’

    +972 speaks with Michael Sfard, human rights attorney and legal counsel and co-founder of Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights, about litigating key human rights cases, past and pending, and the ‘mighty price to be paid’ when advocating Palestinian rights from within the Israeli legal system. With Palestinians and Israelis expected to restart negotiations in the coming days, most people are talking about the peace talks’ chances of success or failure and the details of what topics are on the table. Sitting in front of a small legal library in his Bauhaus Tel Aviv law office, Attorney Michael Sfard…

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  • Report that claims 'there is no occupation' presents an opportunity

    What is behind the left’s anger at a government commission report that rejects the existence of the occupation? The report presents an opportunity to replace empty political rhetoric and legality with a focus on facts on the ground. By Itamar Mann The Israeli left responded with a mixture of laughter and rage to former Justice Edmond Levy’s report on the status of the West Bank and its claim that “there is no occupation.” One commentator particularly baffled was human rights lawyer Michael Sfard, who wrote that the “report was written in Wonderland, governed by the laws of absurdity.” Instead of…

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  • The Wall, 10 years on / Part 3: An acre here and an acre there

    When brought before the High Court, the state promised villagers free access to their lands through special gates to agricultural lands. As the years went by, the court and the public lost interest, the villagers' rights were ignored and their will to fight the system depleted. Land is being deserted, waiting for new settlements to be built.   Project photography: Oren Ziv / Activestills Theoretically, Dharifa Sharreb should be pleased. When the fence was built in Jayous in 2003, Sharreb's home was the only one on its western side, and it became completely isolated from the rest of the village.…

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  • Michael Sfard: Is Israel on the high road to fascism?

    Will the anti-democratic legislation underway in Israel soon make progressive advocacy redundant? Is it an exaggeration to say Israel is on the high road to fascism? And what can the Left do to reverse the process? An interview with Israel's pre-eminent human rights lawyer, Michael Sfard.  It's no longer a secret to anyone Israel is facing a rising tide of anti-democratic legislation - from new restrictions on free speech to the chipping away at the separation of powers between the legislature and the judiciary. Earlier this month I took a broad look at these trends in a piece published two…

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