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michael sfard

  • 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. [tmwinpost] The court, however, accused military police and prosecutors of handling the case with negligence, particularly for their inability to identify…

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  • IDF detains South Hebron Hills tour organizers, days after settler attack there

    Israeli soldiers detained senior members of Breaking the Silence and a human rights attorney in an attempt to block a tour of the South Hebron Hills, where settlers attacked six left-wing activists last week. By Orly Noy Breaking the Silence planned a tour in the South Hebron Hills on Friday, as a token of solidarity with the six Ta’ayush activists who were attacked there last week by settlers from the nearby illegal outpost of Mitzpe Yair. But before they could arrive to the tour location, several buses carrying hundreds of participants were stopped and delayed by military forces for over an hour.…

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  • In memory of Felicia Langer, the first lawyer to bring the occupation to court

    Felicia Langer was a Holocaust survivor, a communist, and one of the first Israeli lawyers to defend Palestinian residents of the occupied territories in the Israeli Supreme Court. She died in Germany last week.  By Michael Sfard Israeli human rights lawyer Felicia Langer died Thursday in Germany. Langer was a human rights and peace activist, a communist, and one of the first attorneys to represent Palestinian residents of the occupied territories in Israeli courts. In Israel’s Supreme Court, she pioneered legal practices that today seem natural and obvious but were once considered outrageous. She was the first to challenge the…

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  • 'The law is what keeps the edifice of occupation from crashing down'

    Michael Sfard has spent the past two decades fighting the occupation in Israeli courts. His new book dissects the moral dilemmas of engaging with the occupation's legal system, its role in making the status quo sustainable, and why, despite it all, he remains optimistic that Israel's military rule over the Palestinians will end. By Yossi Gurvitz "The Wall and the Gate: Israel, Palestine, and the Legal Battle for Human Rights", by Michael Sfard, Metropolitan Books, 2018, 528 pages. Michael Sfard is one of the preeminent human rights lawyers in Israel today, where for the past two decades, he has confronted the occupation on its own…

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  • The Israeli gov't is arguing that annexation is good for Palestinians

    In a High Court case over a law to legalize Israeli settlements built on stolen, privately owned Palestinian land, the attorney hired to represent the government (because the attorney general refused to do so) argues that Palestinians, and not just settlers, would actually benefit. Israel's High Court of Justice heard arguments on Sunday against the "Formalization Law," which would retroactively legalize settlements built illegally on private Palestinian land. Sunday’s hearing was remarkable, and not only because of the law’s potential consequences. After all, it’s not every day that attorneys Michael Sfard and Hassan Jabareen, two of the country’s most prominent…

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  • Top court hears first major challenge to IDF's live fire in Gaza

    Human rights groups argue the army's open-fire regulations violate international law. The government claims the use of deadly force is justified — even against unarmed demonstrators. Israel's High Court of Justice heard on Monday a major challenge to the IDF's rules of engagement, which permit the use of live fire against demonstrators who pose no danger to human life. [tmwinpost] Monday's session saw opening arguments in two petitions submitted by several prominent human rights organizations — one by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Yesh Din, Gisha, and HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual and one by Adalah…

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  • Rights groups: Gaza protests aren't combat, IDF must stop shooting protesters

    Israeli human rights organizations demand High Court order the state to revoke the rules of engagement that permit shooting unarmed demonstrators. After three weeks in which Israeli army snipers have killed dozens and wounded well over 1,200 protesters inside the Gaza Strip, four prominent human rights organizations petitioned Israel's High Court of Justice on Sunday, demanding that the court order the state to revoke the rules of engagement that permit shooting demonstrators who pose no danger to human life. [tmwinpost] The overwhelming majority of those who were killed and wounded by Israeli forces over the past three weeks were unarmed participants in the "Great Return March," a 45-day series…

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  • Facing down Breaking the Silence, Israel tries to play the underdog

    The state prosecutor stages a refined production in which it pretends to be the weaker party facing down a massive organization. The state wants Breaking the Silence to reveal the identity of a soldier it suspects of committing crimes during the Gaza war. By Alma Biblash An Israeli Magistrate’s Court this week heard a challenge by anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence against a warrant ordering it to reveal the identity of a soldier who provided it with testimony about alleged crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza war. Breaking the Silence is an organization of former Israeli soldiers that collects, verifies, and…

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  • It's open season on anyone opposing the occupation

    There is a campaign being carried out against anyone actively opposing the occupation in Israel, and it doesn’t matter if you’re an activist in the field, a human rights attorney or a former soldier talking about what you were ordered to do. "Activists from the shady organization, "Ta'ayush," who we tracked from within and outside, behind closed doors and during clashes on Saturdays, are going to fall one by one. Don't worry friends. We will finish off Ezra Nawi and move on to Guy Butavia… and many others." That message was published and quickly spread on Facebook following the arrest…

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  • Supreme Court: 'Fascist' Im Tirzu case had no standing

    Supreme Court rules that the right-wing 'Im Tirzu' movement had no basis to sue a group of Facebook activists who labeled it 'fascist.' By Oren Persico "It pains me to say so, but this suit contradicts this court’s fundamentals regarding the scope of freedom of speech, whereas we are speaking of the heart of the political-ideological sphere on one end, and on the other end we have another consideration, where this discussion took place — on Facebook — rather than a book or an article in a newspaper. When we take into consideration these two aspects, the result is so…

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  • How Bibi is turning the defense budget into a settler slush fund

    Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya'alon will transfer NIS 70 million from the defense budget to compensate the Ulpana Hill lawbreakers. How will the common soldier interpret the command's will? By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz Israel's Channel 10 exposed earlier this week another layer in the unending saga of Ulpana Hill: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon agreed to transfer NIS 70 million from the security budget as part of the Ulpana Hill compensation deal. Meaning: the tax money that was to be spent on defending the citizens of Israel will, in fact, be…

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  • 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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