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Tisha B’Av and the mainstreaming of the Temple discourse

The further Israel moves from a solution to the conflict, the more it finds itself in need of the symbols of the religious right. As long as liberal Israelis do not fully renounce the sanctification of blood and land, they will be unable to present a real alternative.  

By Yudith Oppenheimer

I have not adhered to halakha in my daily life for years now, but in spite of this I do fast on Tisha B’Av. I am often asked if I am mourning the destruction of the Temple and the answer is both yes and no.

Yes, I identify with the historic Jewish consciousness of destruction, exile and catastrophe that are associated with this date. No, I do not hope for the building of a third Temple. The Temple sacrificial ritual and the Cohanim autocracy, subject to sharp internal criticism prior to the destruction of the Temple, gave way to the Talmudic give-and-take which valued the multiplicity of opinions and debate.

Even if the Romans had not destroyed the Temple, Judaism would have eventually abandoned it, and if not, God forbid, Jewish culture would have atrophied. A number of anti-Temple sects had already developed prior to the destruction, one of which was to become the largest religion in the world. However, due to the catastrophe of its destruction, the Temple became the locus of future redemption.

Post-Temple Judaism managed, for the most part, to embrace the tension between the longing for the Temple as a utopian symbol, and the solid foundations of halakha, moral teachings and interpretations grounded in everyday life. However, there were also periods of messianic foment and attempts to speed up the redemption, almost all of which came to disastrous ends.

Zionism was a daring attempt to harness the messianic tension for social-political action in — and not outside of — history. From the outset this involved walking a thin line because, as Gershom Scholem and others stated, the land of the Bible, its landscapes and language, were largely inseparable from the loaded values and symbolic images with which they were imbued.

The more Zionism invested in denying the existence and presence of the Arab inhabitants of the land, and later in maintaining the occupation, the more it needed the array of sanctified justifications that seemingly granted it exclusive ownership of the land. Thus, the Temple reappeared and took up its place as a foundational Zionist symbol.

It would...

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LGBTQ Israelis hold mass strike, protests demanding equality

A discriminatory surrogacy law sparks mass protests by LGBTQ Israelis, tens of thousands of whom take part in a nationwide general strike. Some 80,000 fill Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.

By +972 Magazine Staff

The Israeli LGBTQ community staged a nationwide strike on Sunday to protest discrimination and inequality, sparked by a new law to ease surrogacy regulations that left male gay couples without the ability to use a surrogate to have a child.

An estimated tens of thousands of members of the community joined the one-day strike to protest the law, tying the action to the broader discrimination many members of the LGBTQ community face.

More than 50 companies and businesses expressed their support for the strike and the protests, among them the local offices of Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft. Some companies said they would enact policies to help their workers become parents via a surrogate, regardless of sexual orientation.

Thousands blocked traffic on the streets of Tel Aviv Sunday morning before shutting down one of the country’s busiest freeways. Hundreds more protested in Jerusalem, where several people were arrested.

On Sunday night, an estimated 80,000 LGBTQ Israelis and allies filled Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square at a mass protest which capped off the day’s demonstrations and actions.

Thousands also took to the streets in the south Tel Aviv neighborhood of Florentin on Sunday evening for a separate demonstration, protesting the stabbing of a 23-year-old sex worker early last week, which left her in serious condition. The attacker was arrested and could be indicted on charges of attempted murder.

According to LGBTQ activists, Sunday’s strike and protests hearkens back to the 2011 social justice protests, in which hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to demand reforms over growing economic disparities. Many in the community have openly criticized the government for using LGBTQ rights in order to paint Israel as a haven for queer people in the Middle East, while simultaneously opposing legislation that would grant them full equality.

Prime Minister Netanyahu initially pledged his support for a change in the surrogacy law, proposed by MK Amir Ohana, an openly gay member of Netanyahu’s own Likud party, which would have allowed male gay couples to use a surrogate. (Lesbian couples are now allowed to use surrogates.) However, Netanyahu ended up voting against the measure, reportedly under pressure from ultra-Orthodox members of his government. Until the law was updated on Wednesday, the right to surrogacy had only been...

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With new laws, Netanyahu is hijacking Judaism as we know it

The leader of the largest Jewish population in the world is consciously abandoning modern Jewish identity in order to usher in a new Judaism. What kind? Just look to the Jewish Nation-State and Holocaust law.

By David Sarna Galdi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the ire of the Jewish world earlier this month when he went on national television to announce his support for an amended version of the controversial Polish Holocaust Law, a gimmick invented by Poland’s anti-democratic government to gain favor with its right-wing base.

The law effectively endangers free discussion about the Holocaust and presents a white-washed narrative of Polish behavior during World War II: that Polish authorities and most civilians went out of their way to save Jews, and that the betrayal of a Jew by a Pole was a rare anomaly.

Politicians from across the Israeli spectrum hurled attacks at the prime minister. Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, voiced official dissent, while Israel-Prize winning Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer delivered the most biting indictment, calling the law a “betrayal,” and a “complete lie.”

Just weeks later, Netanyahu pushed the controversial Jewish Nation-State Law through the Knesset, despite tremendous public and institutional backlash. The law is common sense on its surface, re-stating Israel’s Jewish character. It deviously leaves out, however, any commitment to equal rights, legalizes preferential settlement-building for Jews, and downgrades Arabic’s status as an official language of the state.

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Put simply, it is a gratuitous ultranationalist attack — a racial law institutionalizing discrimination against Israel’s minorities, specifically Arabs, who make up 20 percent of the population. Before it passed, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv to protest. An alliance of 14 American Jewish organizations officially voiced their disapproval and political figures on all sides opposed the law.

The timing of these two seemingly-unrelated pieces of legislation exposes Netanyahu’s quiet coup: a calculated, radical revision of what it means to be Jewish.

Abandoning Judaism

Jewish identity has drastically changed twice in history. First, when exile turned the Hebrew nation into a displaced, scattered minority susceptible to both anti-Semitism and successful assimilation in the diaspora. Jews began...

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A more sensible two-state vision for Israel and Palestine

Political separation doesn’t necessitate geographic and demographic separation.

By Said Zeedani

Just a few weeks into the al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, I was enticed by and attracted to a unique idea for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which continues to entice me 18 years later. The contours of the idea — acceptance of the two-state solution, Israel and Palestine, living next to each other in peace and security, on the basis of the June 4, 1967 borders  — remain valid provided the three following conditions are met:

  1. Separation between the two states would be – or should be – political in nature, without being matched by the kind of strict geographical and demographic separation advocated and supported by successive Israeli governments and mainstream political parties.
  2. Partnership between the two states in those matters which are difficult or undesirable to partition.
  3. Preservation of the unity of the country and respect for the attachment of its people, whether Arab or Jews, to the entire country or part of it, whether that attachment is psychological and emotional, religious or historical.

 

The idea is simple and sufficiently clear, even if its implications, the commitments it entails and its implementation require clarification. It would require significant modifications to the two-state solution but would not alter its essence or affect its primary impetus.

On the one hand, this idea seriously engages with the fundamental Israeli-Jewish demand to preserve Israel as a state the majority of whose citizens are Jews. On the other hand, it also seriously engages with the fundamental Palestinian demand for an independent Palestinian state on the basis of the borders of June 4, 1967, and for the return of refugees, or at least those who so wish, either to the Palestinian state or their homes from which they were uprooted in 1948. Moreover, it presents a more promising approach to engage seriously with the other thorny issues, such as Jerusalem and the settlements.

Refugees: Any Palestinian refugee will be able to exercise the right of return, whether to the state of Palestine as a citizen with equal rights, or to Israel as a permanent resident, whose citizenship rights would be fulfilled in the Palestinian state. This distinction between citizenship rights and residency rights would make the right of return easier to swallow, especially for Israeli Jews who insist on a state in which Jews are the majority of citizens.

Settlements: Once...

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Under Trump, Arab support for U.S. hits lowest point in years

Polling in 11 Arab countries finds that only 12 percent of people in the Arab world have a positive view of U.S. foreign policy. Nearly 90 percent say they would oppose their country recognizing Israel diplomatically.

By Derek Davison

A year and a half into his presidency, Donald Trump’s two biggest beneficiaries in the Middle East have been Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. To Netanyahu, Trump has been a revelation—a U.S. president willing to dispense with even the slightest pretense of support for the Palestinian people. For MbS, Trump has been far more supportive of the destructive Saudi conflict in Yemen than Barack Obama had been. For both men, Trump has fulfilled their every wish when it comes to trying to isolate and weaken Iran.

Thus the narrative that Trump is resetting the U.S. position in the Middle East, returning it to a more traditional alliance structure after the aberration of Obama’s diplomacy with Iran and his less-than-friendly relationships with Netanyahu and the Saudis. But this narrative ignores the effect that Trump’s policies are having on the perception Arabs have of the United States. New polling from the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Qatar suggests that, instead of resetting the U.S. in the Middle East, Trump is hastening its loss of support among Arabs.

The Arab Center has conducted six Arab Opinion Index surveys since 2011. Its 2017-2018 survey consisted of face-to-face interviews with 18,830 respondents across 11 countries: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Tunisia. The Arab Center describes it as “the largest public opinion survey in the Arab world.”

Respondents were asked their opinion on the foreign policies of six non-Arab states: China, France, Iran, Russia, Turkey, and the United States. Only Turkey’s foreign policy drew majority support, with 54 percent of respondents feeling either “positive” or “positive to some extent” about it. China, with 44 percent support, came in second, followed by France at 36 percent, Russia at 26 percent, and Iran at 21 percent. The United States came in dead last, with only 12 percent of respondents reporting any positive feeling toward its foreign policy.

That reflects a new low in a steady decline from 15 percent in 2016, 27 percent in 2015, and 36 percent in 2014. At an Arab Center event earlier this week to release...

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How one of Palestine's preeminent journalists lost hope for peace

Nasser Laham, the editor-in-chief of Palestine’s biggest independent media outlet, used to be an ardent supporter Abbas and the peace process. But after decades of failed attempts, something inside him changed. Today he believes Palestinians must stop talking about peace. ‘We’ll wait a thousand years, the Israelis will be defeated. What’s the hurry?’

By Meron Rapoport

You won’t find a Palestinian journalist who understands Israel and the Israelis like Nasser Laham. He took advantage of the Hebrew he learned while serving time in prison to become the most prominent commentator on Israeli affairs in the Palestinian media, hosting a popular daily television show that analyzes and translates the Israeli media for the Palestinian public. For years he served as a daily source for many Israeli journalists, hosting them in his Bethlehem office, even in his home, and speaking to them on the phone. Many are daily readers of Ma’an News Agency, the popular Palestinian news site where he serves as editor in chief.

I have known Laham for over 15 years. Despite the bloody days of the Second Intifada, the international community still believed that if only Palestinian and Israeli journalists met, they would reach an understanding that would help usher in peace. In many cases, the meetings that did take place — in countries such as Cyprus, Turkey, and Jordan — only served to deepen the divide between the two sides. But Laham and I connected, and we have remained in touch all these years.

The phrase “man of peace” is a bit contrived, but throughout the years Laham continued to support negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, believing that a peace agreement was possible. He was close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, justifying the latter’s decision to establish a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders — through a negotiated settlement, rather than armed struggle — the moment Abbas replaced Yasser Arafat as the head of the PLO and the PA. Laham says Abbas even used to refer to him as “my son.”

Over the past few years, Laham has taken a different approach. Like many Palestinians, he has lost faith in Abbas’ path. The last straw was Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. A short while after the declaration, Nasser wrote an article titled “The Jews’ Journey has Ended.” In another piece, Nasser wrote that at this point, we can only discuss Jews leaving the country.

When his...

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British Jews are speaking out on Israel. Will the progressive community have our back?

We expected attacks on anti-occupation voices by Britain’s Jewish communal leaders. Now our progressive Jewish institutions are turning their backs on us when we need them most.

By Emily Hilton

In May of this year, a group of U.K.-based Jewish anti-occupation activists held a demonstration in London’s Parliament Square, where we recited the kaddish, the Jewish mourner’s prayer, for the Palestinians who have been killed by the IDF during the Great Return March. The views on Israel and Zionism amongst the participants were diverse, but one thing unified all of us: we care about what being done in the name of Judaism, and that our community does not cherry pick who deserves to be treated with equality, respect, and dignity.

What happened next was not totally clear. There was, as anticipated, serious backlash to the event, with a many loud voices outraged at the idea of saying “kaddish for terrorists.” However, it appeared that a number of closed-door meetings followed the protest, in order to put pressure on both RSY-Netzer, a Jewish youth movement, as well as the Movement of Reform Judaism, to censure their members who attended the event.

One young woman, Nina Morris-Evans was barred from leading Israel Tour, a month-long trip around Israel in which young British Jews tour the country, see sites, and form their poignant teenage memories on the backdrop of an archaic Zionist narrative, following targeted attacks from right-wing activists. Suffice it to say, Kaddish for Gaza has triggered a real moment of polarization in the Jewish community in Britain.

Around half of British Jews participate in Israel Tour, and those who do end up going to Israel go with the progressive movements such as RSY-Netzer and Reform synagogues regularly meet with left-wing Israeli groups. These same British Jews are educated about the occupation in their summer camps, their schools, and their synagogues.

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The ousting of Morris-Evans, a passionate and committed Reform Jew, is an own goal for the Jewish establishment in Britain. Beyond that, it symbolizes the fundamental flaw in the logic of liberal Zionism that the MRJ has spent the best part of a decade trying to cultivate: that one can love Israel and hate occupation. Yet when this hatred of occupation manifests in showing solidarity and empathy with Palestinians, it is immediately condemned.

There is a reason the establishment...

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American Jewish anti-occupation advocacy needs to go global

The Jewish community’s traditional unconditional support for Israel’s occupation is rapidly changing. Now is the time to present an alternative to those who justify a violent military regime.

By Frima (Merphie) Bubis

Two months after the U.S. Embassy officially moved to Jerusalem, the President of the Czech Republic, Miloš Zeman, hosted AIPAC, America’s largest pro-Israel lobby at an official event in the national palace. There, he called on his government to follow in the footsteps of President Trump and move the its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. AIPAC’s presence at the event was no coincidence: the “pro-Israel” lobby, primarily known for supporting it’s right-wing policies, has long engaged in extensive efforts to cultivate ties and exert influence outside of the United States. Its recent delegation to the Czech Republic was just one example.

Indeed, AIPAC — along with many other institutions that claim to represent North American Jewry — has supported the Israeli government’s attempts to deepen and normalize the occupation for decades, through “pro-Israel” lobbying both in the U.S. and internationally. These organizations have long understood that to maintain the political conditions that enable the Israeli government’s policy of occupation, it is not enough to lobby U.S. officialsthey must lobby international governments as well.

Having worked closely with progressive Jews through my work as the Jewish Diaspora Coordinator at Breaking the Silence, I have come to see that the irreconcilable gap between the progressive values of North American Jews and the oppressive nature of occupation has increasingly pushed Jewish leaders to search for a political alternative to groups such as AIPAC. Tired of being represented by occupation apologists, they founded liberal, pro-peace groups like the New Israel Fund, T’ruah, Americans for Peace Now, and IfNotNow, which give a political voice to their progressive values.

It is clear that the Jewish community’s traditional unconditional support for the Israeli government’s policy of occupation is rapidly changing. The threat that progressive organizations pose to North American Jewish support for the occupation has become increasingly apparent, with far-right occupation supporters going so far as to engage in vicious hate speech. Ambassador David Friedman, for example, notoriously compared J Street to kapos, in a hysterical attempt to try and preserve their monopoly on U.S. Jews.

The gap between the American Jewish establishment and the community it claims to represent can also be seen in the numbers themselves. A recent poll...

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Elor Azaria takes a victory lap in Hebron: He’s still not the problem

Azaria, the Israeli soldier who was recently released from prison after executing an incapacitated Palestinian stabbing suspect, gets a hero’s welcome at the scene of the crime. Ultimately, however, he is not to blame. We are.

By David Sarna Galdi

Watching news footage of Elor Azaria visiting Hebron feels like watching O.J. Simpson partying in Brentwood after his release – it makes you sick to your stomach; it forces you to question your country’s values.

In March 2016, Azaria, then a 19-year-old Israeli soldier, killed an incapacitated Palestinian knife-attack suspect as he lay bleeding on the ground in Hebron. On Tuesday, two months after serving a nine-month prison sentence, he visited the scene of his crime. Azaria was invited by Hebron’s Jewish settlers, a band of 1,000 fanatics whose squatting in the city, supported by the Israeli government, acts as a deadly choke-hold on its 220,000 Palestinian inhabitants. Palestinians’ movement is restricted by checkpoints, their stores are forcibly closed to create “Jews-only” streets, and their children are forced to live in the crosshairs of heavy guns carried by teenagers like Azaria.

In fact, watching Azaria is worse. At least O.J. didn’t rejoice at the murder scene itself. Imagine if, in 1969, U.S. authorities had allowed Charles Manson to return to 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles, to sniff Sharon Tate’s blood. That’s what it felt like watching Azaria.

“It’s fun, after two-and-a-half years, to return here,” Azaria said on camera, smiling ear to ear, to the applause of the crowd of Israeli settlers gathered around him. Fun?! Instead of somber reflection, Azaria retraced his bloody steps, singing and dancing with a crowd of his fans, in the exact spot where he took another person’s’ life.

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Azaria’s disgusting victory parade reveals Israel’s rotten underbelly: a hate-filled place where, right or wrong, people delight in murder and climax with schadenfreude at the misfortune of the people they oppress.

Then there’s the hypocrisy, which Azaria highlights again and again. How could “the most moral army in the world” punish a Palestinian girl for slapping an Israeli soldier with eight months in prison, and concurrently punish an Israeli soldier for killing a Palestinian youth with only nine? How could Benjamin Netanyahu, who, on every possible podium, blames Palestinian acts of violence on incitement, not...

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Three arrested blocking Israeli bulldozers in Khan al-Ahmar

Israeli forces are preparing to demolish and displace the entire Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar. European diplomats attempt a solidarity visit but aren’t allowed to enter. The demolition is part of Israel’s ‘E-1’ plan to dissect the West Bank, isolate East Jerusalem.

By Oren Ziv

Israeli police and army officials showed up in the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar with bulldozers and other heavy equipment for the second day in a row on Thursday, preparing for the impending destruction and forcible displacement of the entire village.

A dozen Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists tried to block one of the bulldozers from entering the village Thursday morning by sitting in front of it and chaining themselves together. One international activist managed to chain himself to the bulldozer itself.

Police arrested three of the internationals, and later confined the rest of the solidarity activists in the village school’s courtyard.

Swedish, Irish, Norwegian, Dutch, British and other diplomats visited Thursday morning but left after police wouldn’t allow them to actually enter the village. Police attempted to block more activists and journalists from coming to the village, going so far as to ticket any cars attempting to drop them off on the side of the road.

The impending destruction and displacement of Khan al-Ahmar, expected to take place any day now, has been called a war crime by rights groups like B’Tselem and condemned by various foreign governments.

“Even though this is just preparation, in reality the demolition is begun,” said one activist who has been staying in the village in solidarity with its residents. “They haven’t demolished any homes but it seems the village’s fate has been sealed.”

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The destruction of Khan al-Ahmar and displacement of its residents is part of Israel’s plan to expand its settlements in the E-1 area, which if completed, “would dismember the potential Palestinian State into two, non-contiguous cantons and seal off East Jerusalem from its environs in the West Bank,” describes a position paper by NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem.

“If built, it is a game-changer, maybe a game-ender,” the 2012 Terrestrial Jerusalem document continues. “E1 is the ‘binary’ settlement. If you support E-1, you cannot possibly be in favor of the two-state solution; if you are in favor of the two-state solution, you must oppose E-1.”

In the past, pressure by American and...

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Palestinian women lead latest march on Israel-Gaza border

This was the first time since the start of the Great Return demonstrations, during which Israeli snipers have killed well over 100 and wounded thousands, that the march was led by women.

By Meron Rapoport

Thousands of Palestinian women took part in march on the border fence separating the Gaza Strip and Israel on Tuesday, in one of the largest such demonstrations to take place since the Great Return March began on March 30. It was also the first time since the start of the Great Return demonstrations, during which Israeli snipers have killed well over 100 and wounded thousands, that the march was led by women.

Israeli troops positioned along the border shot heavy barrages of tear gas toward the demonstrators, some of whom came all the way up to the fence, east of Gaza City. The Health Ministry in Gaza reported that 124 people received medical treatment, most for tear gas inhalation but also for gunshot wounds.

Mohammad Za’anoun, a photojournalist who has been working with +972 Magazine in covering the protests for several months, was one of the wounded. “We were standing 600 meters from the fence,” Za’anoun said, reached by phone Wednesday morning.

“They shot a few heavy volleys of tear gas toward us,” he continued. “I fell to the ground and wasn’t able to get up. A young man came to help me and then he was struck by a bullet. The shrapnel from that bullet hit me in my arm and leg.”

Za’anoun was brought to a local hospital and released later Tuesday night.

The size of the protest was reminiscent of the first few protests in late March and early April, Za’anoun said. The women who participated were a mix of religious and secular, from all over Gaza, he added. Many of them brought their children, but left them a safe distance from the border fence where Israeli troops were deployed.

It was younger women who ultimately marched toward the fence itself, some getting close enough to hang flags on it.

In addition to using tear gas to disperse the protests, the Israeli military also deployed snipers who would shoot at the protesters from time to time.

“My feeling is that there are going to be more mass protests in the coming days,” Za’anoun continued. “People are ready to die because they feel like the current situation is like death. When I’ve...

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Thanks to Gaza protests, Israel has a new crop of 'battle tested' weapons for sale

Grenade-carrying drones that commit suicide, ‘smart fences,’ and other new tools to suppress demonstrations. A new report reveals how Israel is using the protests in Gaza to showcase its arms industry.

By Meron Rapoport

In an interview earlier this past April, Sa’ar Korush, who until recently served as the CEO of the company that built the wall surrounding parts of the Gaza Strip, told Bloomberg that “Gaza has become the showroom for the company’s ‘smart fences,’ as customers appreciate that the products are battle-tested.” For Israel’s arms industries, the Great Return March, which began two weeks before Koresh spoke to Bloomberg, likely gives them an opportunity to develop new means to put down demonstrations, and to sell these new products abroad.

Korush’s remarks can be found in a new report put out by Hamushim, a joint project of Coalition of Women for Peace and American Friends Service Committee, which works to expose the true human price of the Israeli military industry and arms trade, as well as to mobilize against it. The report, titled “A Lab and a Showroom: The Israeli Military Industries and the Oppression of the Great March of Return in Gaza,” details the new weapons Israel used against the protesters, as well as the attempts to profit from them.

The newest weapon used against protesters on the Israel-Gaza fence has been “Sea of Tears,” a drone that can hold and drop tear gas canisters. The drone was originally designed by Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) and was adapted Aeronautics, an Israeli company that specializes in reconnaissance drones, following a request by Border Police Commander Kobi Shabtai. According to Israel Police Spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld, the drone was used in the weeks leading up to the demonstrations; once they began it was used much more frequently.

“Beyond the fact that it neutralizes all danger to our forces, it allows us to reach places that we had yet to reach,” Shabtai told Channel 2 news. Hamushim’s report, however, states that despite the army’s claims that the drones allow for better accuracy, in at least one case the army dropped tear gas canisters on a tent full of women and children in Gaza. Another video shows a scene in which gas canisters are dropped on journalists covering the protests.

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Following the first day of protests in late March, likely due to the drones’ “success” in suppressing...

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Israeli demolition of entire Palestinian village days away, villagers fear

Israeli security forces show up and survey homes in Khan al-Ahmar, which activists and residents fear is a sign of forced displacement of the entire village. Israel’s top court gave its approval to the demolition, an act rights groups say would constitute a war crime.

By +972 Magazine Staff

After getting the green light from Israel’s High Court, Israeli security forces on Sunday reportedly began preparing for the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, a small Palestinian village in the West Bank, according to the village’s residents, human rights activists, and Palestinian officials.

Video footage provided by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem showed Israeli police officers and military officials walking through the village and inspecting homes Sunday morning. Residents said that one police officer told them they would be better off if they left “voluntarily,” though he declined to provide any more information. B’Tselem has warned that the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and the forcible transfer of its residents would constitute a war crime.

The preparations come a month after Israel’s High Court formally approved a plan to demolish the hamlet — home to over 170 people, including 90 children — and forcibly transfer them to an area near a garbage dump close to the West Bank town of Abu Dis. Now that no legal hurdles remain, Israeli army bulldozers may arrive at Khan al-Ahmar, caught between the Israeli settlements of Kfar Adumim and Ma’ale Adumim, at any time.

Meanwhile, the village has become an internationally-known site of resistance to Israel’s practice of forcibly transferring Palestinians out of Area C of the West Bank, under full Israeli military control — an area many members of the Israeli government advocate annexing.

Originally from Tel Arad in the Negev Desert, the residents of Khan al-Ahmar were expelled by the Israeli military in the 1950s. After the first expulsion, members of the community leased land for residential purposes and herding in the area where Kfar Adumim is now located. They were then expelled a second time, after which they resettled in their current location. Israeli authorities consistently refused to connect them to running water, electricity, or a sewage system, refused to pave roads for them, prevented construction of homes or structures for public use in the community, and have restricted their pastureland. The policy has forced the residents to live in unlivable conditions, suffering a severe dearth of services in health, education, and welfare.

The legal battle...

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