Photos and text: Anne Paq, Basel Yazouri / Activestills.org Tens of thousands of Palestinians returned to their homes across the Gaza Strip on July 26, after a 40-hour humanitarian ceasefire was agreed to between Israel and Hamas. Over 200,000 Gazans have been displaced since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, due to Israeli airstrikes across the Strip. The ceasefire came to an end on Sunday morning after rockets exploded in Israeli territory overnight, and Israel's refusal to agree to an extension offered by Hamas. The airstrikes destroyed homes, UN schools and hospitals last week, leaving a trail of devastation and…Read More... | 9 Comments
the only democracy in the middle east
An autopsy of Nadim Syam Nuwara, one of the two teenagers killed last month during the Nakba Day protests in Beitunia, reveals that that the teen was killed by live fire, according to a report by Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem. According to B'Tselem, Nuwara’s body has been well-preserved, making the point of entry and exit, as well as the route of the bullet, easily identifiable. Although the report is slated to be released in the next several days, doctors have rejected the possibility that the cause of death was rubber bullets, and are fairly confident that the bullet entered…Read More... | 8 Comments
Netanyahu is pushing a new bill to allow the force-feeding of Palestinian hunger strikers. The prime minister is in good company. American practices at the prison at Guantanamo Bay are giving Benjamin Netanyahu ideas. Earlier this week, a draft bill authorizing the force-feeding of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners passed the first of three readings in the Knesset. Of the roughly 300 prisoners presently fasting in protest of Israeli administrative detention, at least 70 are hospitalized around the country, shackled to their beds. If the bill becomes law, dozens of them may be forced to undergo the procedure. Netanyahu is personally pressing…Read More... | 26 Comments
This week marks 47 years since the start of Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights, the product of the Six-Day War that took place June 5-10, 1967. That is almost half a century, and nearly three-quarters of Israel's entire existence. Like every year, the tiny Israeli left plans to hold a protest march down the streets of central Tel Aviv. The demonstrations are never very large, at best several thousand attend (last year's demonstration barely reached 1,000 participants). But this year, for some reason, the police decided that even that is too much. According to…Read More... | 1 Comment
Between shootings, beatings and arrests, Palestinian journalists are subject to violence and restrictions that their Israeli counterparts generally avoid. Last week at a protest in the West Bank city of Beitunia, a group of Palestinian protestors attacked Israeli journalist Avi Issacharoff and photographer Daniel Book. According to Issacharoff, he was told to leave the protest by Palestinian journalists, and when he refused he was surrounded by a group of angry Palestinian protesters, who he says wanted to "lynch" him. Eventually, he was escorted out of the area with the help of two Palestinian officers. Such incidents are depressing, especially for…Read More...
A couple of West Bank incidents from the last few days, and one final thought: 1. Israeli singer Ehud Banai, who was due to perform in the archaeological, Jews-only site of Susya in the south Hebron Hills, cancelled his gig following left-wing protests, then canceled the cancelation, stating that his decision (not to perform) “fanned the flames of hatred for nothing.” His performance is due to begin as I write this post. In his statement, Banai used the Jewish expression of Sinat Hinam (שנאת חינם, “hatred for nothing”), which in Jewish tradition refers to the internal quarrels that brought about…Read More... | 8 Comments
A country can, at least in theory, be 'Israeli and democratic.' It cannot and will never be 'Jewish and democratic.' Early into his second term as prime minister, as he was presenting his conditions for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a new demand for any final status agreement, one which was absent from every previous round of talks, both formal and informal. Unlike his predecessors, Netanyahu wasn't satisfied with Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel, something the PLO did in 1988, and once again as part of the Oslo Accords. He wants them to…Read More... | 44 Comments
After a stormy night session, the coalition was able to pass the necessary amendments and election laws that would make it more difficult to topple a government and eliminate small factions. Left-wing and Palestinian members of Knesset protested the legislation in 'silent speeches.' Ultra-Orthodox MK Eichler spoke to the Arab public in Arabic, saying 'we are with you.' (video below) During the last session of the Knesset before its summer recess, the coalition was able to pass a first reading of the “governance legislation,” - an amendment to Israel's Basic Laws - which would make it more difficult for the…Read More... | 33 Comments
With arbitrary arrest and detention, forcible transfer, withholding of basic human rights, the imposition of birth control measures and now an arms-for-asylum-seekers deal which amounts to little more than human trafficking, Israel has become a theater of horrors for Africans. By Natasha Roth Sudanese immigrants pose in front of an enlarged photo of the Saharonim Prison, in which 2,000 African immigrants are being detained, during the International Refugee Day event in Tel Aviv on June 20, 2013. (Photo by: Keren Manor/Activestills.org) A report in yesterday's Yedioth Aharonoth (originally in Hebrew, and translated into English for their website) revealed that the Israeli government…Read More... | 5 Comments
New database will allow immediate access by security forces, without court order, to the face scan and finger prints of every Israeli. After several delays, the Interior Ministry on Monday will commence the two-year pilot stage of Israel's National Biometric Database Program. When completed, the database will include the biometric information - a face scan and fingerprints - of all Israeli citizens, accessible without court order to the police and security forces, including the army, the military police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). In addition, a court could also order the transfer of individual biometric information, and even…Read More... | 12 Comments
Last week I wrote about the outdated feeling the debate over the occupation renders. One commenter wondered why both Larry Derfner (who also commented on the article) and I are “disappointed” with Knesset members from Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, even though they say the very same thing we write about on this site. I didn’t vote for Lapid, but his pact with the extreme right is enough of a reason to dismiss any hope that he will contribute to the end of the occupation in the foreseeable future. However, the issue here is not the existence of one, or…Read More... | 11 Comments
An Israeli decision to continue the occupation is illegitimate, even if it was reached through a democratic process. Democracy has no meaning when the population at hand is not allowed to take part in it. This is a slightly modified translation of my weekly op-ed in the Israeli daily Maariv. "Occupation denial" is the latest trend in the Israeli (and American) conversation regarding the conflict. Conservative scholars are presenting a revisionist reading of the Fourth Geneva Convention, claiming that it never applied to the West Bank and Gaza, while politicians are claiming that the term "occupation" is biased. Yet all those…Read More... | 33 Comments
I have posted in the past about the policy of ethnic separation around the Jewish houses in Hebron. Shuhada street - once the location of a central market - was first closed to Palestinian cars, and now even Palestinian pedestrians must walk along a tiny dirt road, while Jewish settlers and their guests get the rest of the street. The pretext might be security, but the policy (like in the rest of the West Bank) is ethnic segregation. Watch this B'tzelem video to see what's going on not far away, on the road near the Tomb of the Patriarchs: For more context on…Read More... | 13 Comments
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