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Israeli elections c'tee hasn't taken any steps to stop Arab voter intimidation

Four months after the ruling Likud party led a voter intimidation campaign against Palestinian voters, the government body responsible for ensuring free and fair elections says it hasn’t made any changes to its process.

With just a few weeks before Israeli citizens head back to the polls for the second time this year, the government body responsible for supervising and regulating elections in Israel said it has not drawn any lessons and has not implemented any changes to prevent the repeat of a voter intimidation campaign that targeted Arab Palestinian voters in early 2019.

On April 9, 2019, Election Day, a settler-aligned public relations firm and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party led a voter intimidation stunt specifically targeting Arab Palestinian voters. The Likud sent around 1,300 activists wearing hidden cameras to serve as election monitors at polling stations in Arab cities and towns. Party activists were not sent with hidden cameras to polling places in non-Arab locales.

“Because there were observers on our behalf at every polling station, the [Arab] voting rate dropped by 50 percent – the lowest seen in recent years!” the PR firm, Kaizer-Inbar bragged on its Facebook page a day later.

Election monitors in Israel are either paid by the Elections Committee or are members of political parties. The parties themselves can decide where to send their observers.

With another election approaching in September, the Likud has announced an even broader operation. Civil rights groups are calling the ethnically targeted surveillance operation a clear attempt at voter intimidation and suppression, with some saying it is patently illegal. The Central Elections Committee, meanwhile, has yet to weigh in.

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“It’s definitely another alarm raised about the attempt to oppress Arab Palestinians in Israel,” said Gilad Grossman, spokesperson for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. By targeting voters based on their ethnicity rather than placing cameras in areas where there are suspicions of voter fraud, “you’re basically marking all the Arab population in Israel as potential criminals or potential fraudsters,” added Grossman.

The Central Elections Committee said in late April that it had identified two polling stations with possible irregularities. One of them was in an Arab locality, the other...

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'When the constitution becomes racist, it’s difficult to define what racism is’

One year ago, Israel passed a constitutional amendment declaring that Israel belongs only to its Jewish citizens. The head of Israel’s premier Palestinian rights group discusses what has changed in Israeli courts, but also overseas. ‘The debate soon will be whether Israel is apartheid.’

In the year since the Israeli parliament passed the Jewish Nation-State Law, the equivalent of a constitutional amendment that declares Israel to be the exclusive nation-state of the Jewish people and demotes the status of Arabic, not a whole lot has changed.

That can mostly be explained by how new the law still is, and the political instability that has paralyzed policy making in Israel over the past year. But the more obvious explanation is that the law only codified an existing reality of supremacy, discrimination, exclusivity, and two-tiered citizenship that has prevailed here since the day Israel was born.

What the law has changed, is the essence of how people understand that reality — from Palestinian citizens of Israel to diplomats, and, of course, judges.

Palestinian and Israeli politicians, activists, and thinkers have long engaged in a debate about Israel’s Jewish identity, and whether the country can define itself as Jewish and still be democratic. This law cuts straight through that debate, says Hassan Jabareen, founder and director of Adalah, a legal organization that focuses on Palestinian minority rights in Israel.

Speaking in his office in a stone building in Haifa, wearing his signature flat cap, Jabareen explains why that is a positive development. “Soon, the debate in the world won’t be whether Jewish and democratic goes together or not; the debate soon will be whether Israel is apartheid.”

The opening three clauses of the Jewish Nation-State Law proclaim: the Jewish people’s connection to the Land of Israel, a religious and ideological term referring to an area far greater than Israel’s de facto borders; the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in Israel; and the exclusivity of that right.

It makes no mention of equality for the one-in-five citizens of Israel who are Palestinian. More left-leaning Zionist Israelis have made a push over the past year, primarily in response to objections by Druze citizens, to include a clause in the law guaranteeing equality for all citizens, Jewish or not.

Even that would not be enough, Jabareen says, for as long as the group rights of Jewish citizens are constitutionally enshrined as the only legitimate rights, “you...

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Not just toxic masculinity: Militarism also feeds gender-based violence

In a society dominated by male hierarchies, violence is not only a pervasive symptom but a defining feature — especially for Palestinian women. 

The Israeli media has been awash with reports over the past week about the case of a dozen Israeli male teenagers, some minors, accused of gang-raping a 19-year-old female British tourist in the Cyprus resort town of Ayia Napa. The victim told local police the youths pinned her down while some of them filmed the rape on their mobile phones.

The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel blasted Israeli media for their coverage of the case last week. A Channel 12 TV news report about the rape showed women in bikinis dancing at a pool party at the hotel where it took place, including footage of a woman licking a man’s crotch area. Army Radio began a news segment by quoting one of the alleged perpetrators, who said: “The British girls go with the flow with everyone here. It’s possibly her fault.”

The outrage over the media’s handling of the rape peaked on Sunday, when Haaretz journalist Noa Landau tweeted a link to a radio discussion a few days earlier between one of Israel’s most prominent security commentators, Channel 12’s Roni Daniel, and Channel 13 journalist Doron Herman, who is covering the case. Herman cites local police saying the victim had consensual sex with two or three of the suspects in the days leading up to the rape, and then on the last night she woke up in a room with 12 Israelis, not the two or three she knew. Daniel then interrupts and says: “Oh, she was used to two or three, suddenly [there are] 12, that’s the breaking point?”

Daniel has since tweeted a clarification, claiming that, in his view, “rape – whether it’s committed by one, two or 12 people – is the gravest of incidents.” “If I was understood differently, I have no choice but to apologize,” he wrote. 103FM Radio, the station on which the program aired, took down the segment from its site.

At a time when the #MeToo movement continues to challenge power imbalances, these men resorted to making excuses for the perpetrators and blaming the victim. Hundreds of listeners and viewers filed complaints with the broadcasting authorities in Israel, while others took to social media to condemn both...

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'To ask an Arab student to internalize this is a way of humiliating him'

Israel requires all high school students who want to travel abroad on school-sponsored trips to pass an online course that promotes far-right and often racist ideas about Palestinians. One Arab school in northern Israel has had enough of it.

Before a high school student in Israel can participate in a school-sponsored trip overseas they must first answer a series of questions. “How do Palestinian organizations use social media?” is one of them. The only correct answer? “To incite violence.”

The Education Ministry’s online course and test purport to equip students with “tools and basic information” on questions and issues they might encounter abroad. Far-right politician Naftali Bennett made the course mandatory two years ago, when he was education minister.

Last month, The Masar Alternative School in Nazareth challenged the course’s legality. In a letter addressed to the Education Ministry, the school argued that the course is humiliating toward Palestinian citizens of Israel and violates the country’s education law, which “requires consideration of the uniqueness of the Arab minority.”

The course, available only in Hebrew but with optional Arabic subtitles, involves a series of short videos covering 11 topics followed by a multiple-choice exam and can be completed in a matter of hours. Upon completion, students receive a certificate that is valid for four years.

“Students who were traveling abroad were met with questions like what’s going on in Israel? … They were asked about the separation wall, about the country’s borders. They didn’t know what to say,” an Education Ministry official explained in 2015, when an earlier version of the course was offered, although it wasn’t mandatory at the time.


Reflecting the core thinking behind hasbara, the course centers on the conviction that people around the world criticize Israel not because it occupies millions of Palestinians, but because “they don’t know Israel,” Tal Brody, an American-Israeli former basketball star, says in one of the tutorials.

The students are tasked with defending Israel’s image abroad, and are told they are “young ambassadors” representing the State of Israel anytime they are “outside the country’s borders,” whether they want to or not. Israel’s borders are still disputed and are yet to be officially recognized, a reality that is entirely ignored throughout the course.

One video explains that “the key to hasbara [is] your personal...

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Confederation can't answer the most important issue in Israel-Palestine

Any framework that comes to replace the two-state solution must aspire toward decolonization, and accept that Zionism and full civic equality are irreconcilable.

Changes on the ground over the past decade have allowed Israel to consolidate its rule between the river and the sea. While the final nail in the two-state coffin was hammered long ago, many international stakeholders are only now beginning to sing its requiem. In this seemingly new vacuum, without a clear path forward, some are reaching for alternative frameworks that could possibly establish — dare I say it — peace.

In a recent episode of The +972 Podcast, Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin presented an Israeli-Palestinian confederation as one such alternative. While confederation answers several of the most contentious issues that stood in the way of a two-state solution over the years, it falls short in addressing the inherent injustice of Zionism as well as the ongoing harm of Israel’s settler project, while offering only symbolic gestures to Palestinian refugees.

The advantages of confederation, Scheindlin argues, are its ability to balance open borders without compromising the national identities and national aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians. Palestinians have sought self-determination since 1917, when the Balfour Declaration granted legitimacy to Zionist aspirations in Israel-Palestine, and in more recent years Palestinian leaders have articulated this desire in the form of an independent state.

Statehood has always promised to free Palestinians from Israel’s oppressive rule in the occupied territories. What more, it offers a place in the state-centric international order, and provides access to unique legal and diplomatic tools. Particularly since the rise of the PLO, many Palestinians firmly believed that, if only we were granted the right to govern ourselves, the scars of forced exile, dispossession and the denial of our belonging to this land, precipitated by the Nakba, just might heal.

What’s missing from the confederation framework, however, is a genuine reckoning of the conditions that inhibit peace and justice between the river and the sea. Since its creation in 1948, Israel has established itself as a regional superpower. After more than 70 years of oppressive Israeli military rule over millions of Palestinians (inside its own borders until 1966 and in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967), it is both inaccurate and insufficient to describe the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians simply as a conflict to be resolved.

Perpetuating the language of “both sides would have to make concessions” implies equal...

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Israel bars hundreds of Palestinian Christians from traveling on Easter

In an unprecedented decision, Israeli authorities are denying hundreds of Palestinian Christians the right to travel to Jerusalem for the holiday, while barring all movement between the West Bank and Gaza.

Thousands of Christian pilgrims from all over the world are expected to travel to Jerusalem for Easter celebrations. For Christian Palestinians who live no more than hours away from the holy city, however, holiday plans are determined by the whims of the Israeli army. This year, in an unprecedented decision, the army is denying movement for hundreds of Palestinians and barring all movement between the West Bank and Gaza.

The Israeli army limited the holiday travel quota to 200 Christians from Gaza who are over 55, and only for travel outside of Palestine-Israel. Only 120 of the 1,100 Christians in Gaza meet this arbitrary requirement. Palestinians who were planning on visiting the holy sites or their families in the West Bank and Israel, already a rare occasion, will not be able to do so.

“I’ve been applying for permits over the past three years, but nothing has come out of it,” said Samir Abu Daoud, 65, from Gaza, who has a son and grandchildren in Ramallah. Although he meets Israel’s criteria for travel, he has yet to hear back regarding his permit request.

While the army has allocated twice the quota for Palestinians in the West Bank — who will be allowed to travel to Israel and Jerusalem — this only allows approximately one percent of the Christian population there to leave for the holiday. They are not allowed to visit family members in Gaza.

“Imposing such sweeping restrictions on movement cannot be justified by security needs,” said Miriam Marmur, a media coordinator with Gisha, an Israeli rights group that focuses on freedom of movement in and out of Gaza. The decision is based on political considerations, added Marmur, and the limitations are part of Israel’s “separation policy,” which seeks to widen the divide between geographically disconnected Palestinian communities.

“Israel is increasingly restricting movement between Gaza and the West Bank so as to deepen the separation between Palestinians torn between parts of the occupied Palestinian territory, and by doing so, advance and legitimize its annexation of the West Bank,” Gisha wrote in a statement this week.

Contacted for an explanation, the Israeli army’s “Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories” (COGAT) — the Israeli military body responsible for administering the occupation and...

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LISTEN: Suffering in Gaza isn’t a humanitarian issue, it’s an Israeli political decision

Recent rockets fired into central Israel by armed groups in Gaza were not ‘mistakes,’ as both Hamas and Israel claim. The counter-intuitive context, Tareq Baconi explains, is a Hamas attempt to get Israel back onboard with a cease-fire agreement. Excerpts from The +972 Podcast.

Hamas and Israel reached a cease-fire agreement last November following months of Egyptian-mediated negotiations. Under that agreement, Israel was supposed to ease restrictions on the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza. Hamas was supposed to curtail protests along the fence.

Tareq Baconi, Ramallah-based analyst for the International Crisis Group and author of “Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance,” believes that two rockets fired into central Israel by militants in Gaza in recent weeks were attempts by Hamas and other Palestinian factions “to pressure Israel into meeting its obligations under that cease-fire agreement” and adopt a more sustainable policy toward Gaza.

The Gaza Strip is facing an unprecedented crisis, Baconi explained on The +972 Podcast. In addition to the humanitarian and economic crises created by Israel’s 12-year blockade, the Palestinian Authority has stopped paying tens of thousands of Gazans their salaries and pensions.

>> Subscribe to the podcast: iTunes/Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify <<

Furthermore, the staggering number of Palestinians killed and maimed during a year of the Great March of Return protests has had its own impact on the health system and economy. Many in Gaza, Baconi said, “would tell you they have nothing to lose.”

Indeed, the Great Return March and the recent flare up are connected, according to Baconi.

Below are excerpts of the interview, which can be heard in full on The +972 Podcast. Look for us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

“From day one, before the protests had even been initiated, [Israel] adopted an open fire and live fire policy against these civilians at staggering cost in terms of the loss of human life. But what that means as well is that popular mobilization on its own failed to compel Israel to revisit its blockade or its policies of isolation and failed to compel the international community to bring pressure on Israel to deal with the Gaza Strip differently.”

“In other words, the lesson that came out of the Gaza Strip was that only force works....

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'Change doesn’t come from the courthouses alone'

Addameer director Sahar Francis talks about the pervasiveness of incarceration in Palestinian society, how she and her organization have been targeted by Israeli forces for their work, and what it means if the international community can’t hold Israel accountable for the occupation.

There is one legal case Sahar Francis says she’ll never forget. It was 1996 or 1997, and she had only recently started working at Addammeer, the main Palestinian organization providing legal support to political prisoners. Israeli soldiers had arrested a young Palestinian woman, Francis recalls, and were torturing her to get her to testify against her brother who was also in custody. She was representing both siblings.

After two months being held at Israel’s “Russian Compound” interrogation facility in Jerusalem, the young woman was scheduled to have a hearing at an Israeli military court near Hebron. That day, however, the road was completely blocked by burning tires. The driver didn’t want to continue, Francis recalls, but says she refused to get out the taxi and insisted he find a way to get her to the military court. He did.

“I had to make sure she was going home with me,” Francis explains, sitting behind her desk at the Addameer offices in Ramallah. The way Francis saw it, this woman was suffering a great injustice and she was determined to see her released – which she was. “To me, this was my time to rise to the challenge. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

Israel has arrested and detained more than 800,000 Palestinians since it occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in 1967. In 2018 alone, the Israeli army arrested at least 6,500 Palestinians, of whom 1,080 were children. It’s this pervasiveness of incarceration that makes prisoners’ affairs so central in Palestinian society. “It touches every Palestinian home,” says Francis.

The general perception in Israel and around the world is that Palestinian prisoners are those who have carried out violent attacks, perhaps hurled stones or threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers, stabbed officers at checkpoints, or rammed a car into pedestrians. In practice, even a poem by an obscure poet could be interpreted as incitement to terrorism.

“If you look at the politics of arrests, since the First Intifada until today, all groups in Palestinian society have been systematically targeted,” says Francis. “It’s enough for you to share a photo of a shahid...

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With U.S. aid cuts, Palestinian women pay biggest price

For years, the United States was the largest aid donor to Palestinians. With funding to health, education and sanitation programs brought to a sudden halt, it’s women and girls who are hit the hardest.

When Nawal’s husband had to stop working two years ago due to severe stomach pains, she became the family’s primary provider. Nawal, who asked to use only her first name, lives with her seven children in Dheisheh refugee camp, near Bethlehem. Nawal used to be eligible for stipends from UNRWA that would help her cover the family’s medical costs, but she was recently told this assistance is no longer available.

Zahya Al Mubasher is a widow fighting cancer in Gaza. At 61, she is still the provider for 17 of her children, grandchildren and siblings. She makes a living by growing tomatoes in a backyard greenhouse that was funded by USAID, a U.S government agency responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance.

Nawal and Zahya are only two of thousands of Palestinian women who are directly affected by the Trump administration’s decision to dry up aid funding to Palestinians. The administration most recently shut down USAID’s mission in the West Bank and Gaza, while cutting more than half a billion dollars in funding to Palestinian projects in 2018. Critics say it is just the latest attempt to blackmail the Palestinian Authority into a peace agreement with Israel.

When society or institutions start to break down because of lack of investment, women are even further burdened by the domestic responsibilities they are traditionally associated with, says Susan Markham, USAID’s former senior coordinator for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Managing time between professional responsibilities and “housework,” she adds, becomes an even greater challenge. “It’s something that is not measured oftentimes, but has a real impact on everyday women’s lives,” she says.

The effects of such a break down on women are twofold: gender-focused programs funded by the U.S. have now been scrapped, reducing the number of initiatives that focus exclusively on promoting women’s rights and opportunities, while larger infrastructure-related projects — such as in health and sanitation — remain unfinished. This can have a detrimental impact on the roles of women and girls in society.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. aid went toward Palestinian women’s rights advocacy programs over the past several years. Among the aid recipients is Kayan, a feminist organization protecting the rights and...

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The 'Holy Land Five' and the fight to delegitimize Palestine advocacy

Five Palestinian-American men are serving time for providing aid to Palestinian refugees. Their conviction 10 years ago spurred broader efforts to criminalize Palestine advocacy in the United States.

Ten years ago, United States federal prosecutors shut down what was then the biggest Muslim charity in the country, a foundation supporting Palestinians refugees. Authorities seized all of the Holy Land Foundation’s assets and put five of its leaders in prison.

Over the past decade, the case has set into motion a broad and powerful effort to criminalize and sanction Palestine advocacy in the United States. It created a chilling effect that forces many Americans to think twice before supporting Palestinian or Muslim charities to this day.

Shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the FBI raided the offices of Holy Land Foundation. In 2004, federal agents arrested five of the foundation’s leaders on charges of funneling material support for a designated terrorist organization — Hamas. After a second trial — the first resulted in a mistrial — they were sentenced to prison, two of them to 65 years.

“The mainstreaming of the idea that support for Palestinians is something that should be scrutinized originates with cases like Holy Land,” said Diala Shamas, an attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“It starts with the material support framework, where any kind of support for Palestinians is labeled and smeared as support for terrorism, but you see that in the rhetoric today, it’s everywhere,” Shamas added.

Material support laws are intentionally kept vague and broadly-defined, and they have had a significant chilling effect on several civil rights issues in the United States, according to Shamas.

Furthermore, targeting the Holy Land Foundation had a very intended political effect; it mattered that the government was not only going after what was at the time the largest Muslim charity in America, but also one that was focused on providing relief to Palestinians.

“These people were convicted for providing charity,” Nancy Hollander, the defense attorney who represented Abu Baker, told +972. “They were never charged with, convicted or arrested for any violent act. The government chased every dime that they spent, and knew where it all went, and it went to charity. It’s just that the government’s position was that they were feeding the wrong kids.”

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Israeli incursions into Gaza are the rule, not the exception

Israeli troops have crossed into Gaza over 70 times this year alone, according to the UN. And those are only the incursions we know about.

Since Israeli special forces troops got into a deadly firefight with Hamas commandos deep inside the Gaza Strip Sunday night, Israel has dropped dozens of bombs and missiles into Gaza and Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel.

The New York Times described the special forces raid as “the first known Israeli ground incursion into Gaza since Operation Protective Edge, in July 2014.”

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Since the start of 2015 through the end of October 2018, the Israeli army made 262 known ground incursions and operations to level land inside the Gaza Strip, including over 70 this year alone. This does not include the unknown number of covert operations like the one that went awry on Sunday.

As one retired Israeli general explained on national television, such covert raids across enemy lines are actually rather routine. “Activities that most civilians aren’t aware of happen all the time, every night and in every region,” Tal Russo told Israel’s Channel 10 while discussing the events in Gaza.

According to data obtained by +972 Magazine from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel carried out 21 incursions into Gaza in 2014 (excluding the seven-week war). The next year, in 2015, that number more than doubled, to 56 incidents. In 2016 and 2017, 68 and 65 incursions took place, respectively. By end of October 2018, 73 such incidents had been recorded, according to the UN data.

What is exceptional about Sunday’s action is not that Israeli soldiers crossed into Gaza, but that the military operation was exposed. Most of the time when Israeli forces infiltrate the coastal enclave, they remain within 200 to 300 meters of the border fence, Ibtisam Zaqout, head of field work at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights explained to +972.


Soldiers routinely cross in military bulldozers, not by foot, mostly to raze and level land in order to maintain line of sight in the Israeli-maintained “buffer zone” along the border, she added.

Israel hasn’t consistently determined the perimeter of this access-restricted area along the fence with Gaza, and it has often employed deadly...

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Lost in Occupation: How Google Maps is erasing Palestine

A new report details the ways Google Maps’ mapping process in the occupied territories serves the interests of the Israeli government, while contradicting the company’s stated commitment to human rights.

When Tariq Asedih plans a trip from his village near Nablus to Ramallah, Google Maps “can’t find a way” for the 36-kilometer journey. Instead, he has to navigate from a nearby Jewish settlement, and even then, the available routes direct Asedih to roads that Palestinians are not allowed to use.

Not only does Google Maps not recognize Palestine (the browser instead navigates to an unlabeled area) – its entire user experience ignores the reality of occupation. In doing so, Google is violating its commitment to international human rights, according to a new report by 7amleh (pronounced “Hamleh”), the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media. Google claims its mission is to “organize the world’s information” and make it “useful,” but the report argues that Google Maps advances the interests of the Israeli government, and mostly serves Israeli citizens.

The State of Palestine was recognized by 138 of the 193-member United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2012, but has never been labeled as such on Google Maps. Israel is not only identified as a country, but Jerusalem, which was granted international status in UNGA Resolution 181 and remains a final-status issue, is marked at its capital. While a “West Bank” label does exist, Israeli settlements there appear as if they are located inside Israel.

Meanwhile, Palestinian villages unrecognized by Israel, both in the occupied territories and within the Green Line, are either misrepresented or entirely left out, while the names and locations of Israeli settlements are clearly noticeable. Even relatively small Jewish-Israeli communities appear on the map, but Palestinian villages are only visible when extremely, almost intentionally, zoomed in on.

Unlike other cities or villages, Bedouin communities in the Negev, which existed before Israel was established, are marked by their tribal designation, rather than the actual names of their villages. Considering that these villages are under the constant threat of demolition by Israeli authorities, their misrepresentation or omission from the map becomes “a method of enforcing the eradication of unrecognized Palestinian villages,” the report argues.

In addition to biased mapping, 7ahmel says Google prioritizes Israeli citizens when offering routes. The map ignores the segregated road system in Israel-Palestine and the resulting movement restrictions, such as checkpoints and...

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No justice for Bil'in Palestinian activist shot dead by Israeli soldier

Nearly a decade after an Israeli soldier killed Bassem Abu Rahmeh while he was nonviolently protesting in Bil’in, Israel’s High Court decides once and for all that his killer will never see the inside of a courtroom.

More than nine years after an Israeli soldier killed Palestinian activist Bassem Abu Rahmeh at a protest in Bil’in, Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected a third and final appeal against the army’s refusal to prosecute or punish anyone for his death.

The court, however, accused military police and prosecutors of handling the case with negligence, particularly for their inability to identify Abu Rahmeh’s killer.

Justice George Karra was particularly piercing, writing in the judgment that Israeli law enforcement officials’ conduct, “or rather, [their] failure to investigate, led to the spoliation of evidence, and to the inability to find the person responsible for the victim’s death. And that is regrettable.”

Abu Rahmeh, 30, was nonviolently protesting against the separation wall in Bil’in when an Israeli soldier fired an extended-range tear gas canister directly at his chest, against IDF regulations. The injury killed Abu Rahmeh almost immediately.

The unarmed, popular protests in Bil’in, a Palestinian village near the West Bank city of Ramallah, started in 2005. Residents and Israeli and Palestinian activists marched weekly to protest the separation wall, which cut them off from nearly 2,000 dunams of their agricultural land. Abu Rahmeh, one of the more prominent figures in the early days of the struggle, was featured in the Oscar-nominated film “Five Broken Cameras,” directed by Guy Davidi and Imad Burnat.

“This was supposed to be an easy case: a killing that was captured by three cameras, top experts identifying the source of the lethal shot, and a clear violation of the rules of engagement,” said Michael Sfard, one of the human rights attorneys representing Abu Rahmeh’s family and Yesh Din in the case. “Both the military police and the military prosecution have made it clear in this case that they will do anything they can to deny justice to the victim, and obstruct any chance of getting to the truth.”

Subhiyeh Abu Rahmeh, Bassem’s mother, first demanded that the military investigate her son’s death a few days after the April 17, 2009 incident with the help of two Israeli human rights organizations. Israel’s Military Advocate General (MAG) responded only a year later, declining to open an investigation, citing a lack of...

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