August 5, 2012

EDITOR: While waiting for the attack on Iran, the pogroms go on…

The war on Iran is now a fact – what remains is just to enact it, as far as Israel and the US are concerned. It is clear that the western states will do nothing whatsoever when it starts, and Israel will get away with even a larger and more criminal act than the destruction of South Lebanon in 2006. An interesting question is: Is there something which Israel cannot get away with? Like being the first nation to use nuclear weapons since 1945, during conflict? With the US so firmly behind it, and Obama in such dire need of the Jewish votes in November, it seems that nothing which Israel will do will get it real censure. This is exceptionalism of the highest order. Knowing they have no worry about consequences, they are sure to strike against Iran. What is so shocking is the international apathy about this thunder which is about to hit the Middle East, and the rest of us.

In the meantime, Israeli setters are not wasting time, it seems. Knowing, that like Israel, they are totally immune to any law or procedure, they continue their hate and destruction campaign against Palestine. Their project is to get every Palestinian out of Palestine, and nobody seems to be around to stop them.

Lambs to the settlers’ slaughter, screaming and unheard: Haaretz

There were more than 50 reports of Israelis assaulting Palestinians in the West Bank last month. In the start of a regular series, Haaretz details one particularly violent attack

By Amira Hass | Aug.05, 2012 | 1:25 AM |  4

A torched car Palestinians in the West Bank - AP

An elderly Palestinian man gestures as he stands next to a torched car Palestinians say was set on fire by Jewish extremists, in the West Bank village of Hares near Nablus, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011. Photo by AP

Amira Hass

‘Don’t touch my land. Price Tag’ is sprayed on a wall in the West Bank village of Sinjal. Photo by Amira Hass

There is still a bruise under Ibrahim Bani Jaber’s left eye. The blows his brother Jawdat received to his right ear didn’t leave any marks, but they still make his head feel heavy. During our meeting at their home in the West Bank village of Akraba last week, they did not spend much time describing the fear and pain they felt when they were attacked. Instead, they spoke about the family’s sheep, that they had rushed to try and save that day, July 7, when they heard that settlers were attacking them.

The violent confrontation – between settlers from Itamar and Giva 777, and Palestinian residents of Akraba – was the worst such incident last month. But it was, nevertheless, merely part of the daily routine of assaults, attacks and incursions. It is only on rare occasions that these incidents become news. In most cases, if there is an investigation there is no indictment.

The map presented here shows the various assaults from last month alone, but it is not complete because it does not include Jerusalem. It is based on reports that have been cross-checked, and eyewitness testimonies from the Ta’ayush Arab Jewish partnership, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Haaretz will continue to follow events on a regular basis and the way they are handled by the authorities.

On Saturday July 7, when the Bani Jaber brothers were working in a wheat field, their brother Jihad – who was tending the sheep – telephoned them in a panic. “Settlers have arrived at the spring and they are slaughtering the sheep,” he shouted. The two brothers were some three kilometers from the spring and orchard, east of the village of Yanun. Jawdat, 44, went to speak with the soldiers who had accompanied the Palestinian farmers to their fields.

About six months ago, the Israel Defense Forces began revisiting plans for its dormant firing range there – which contains farmers’ fields, orchards and a number of homes belonging to families from Akraba. When it was decided to use the firing range again, the IDF began forbidding the Palestinians from going to their lands there. Giva 777, an offshoot of the Itamar settlement, is in that same firing range (known as 904A ). Dror Etkes, who has been tracking the way the settlers are gaining control of lands in the West Bank, states that most of Giva 777’s tended fields are on private Palestinian lands and in the firing range.

In the past few months, Rashed Fahmi – the head of the Yanun local council; the Israeli-Palestinian group Lohamim Leshalom (Fighting for Peace ); and Rabbis for Human Rights have been waging an exhausting and prolonged campaign to get the authorities to uphold the Palestinians’ rights to work their lands. The efforts bore bitter fruit: the Palestinians were permitted to go to their fields accompanied by soldiers for one week, between July 3 and July 10. Most of the wheat had already dried up by then.

Awaiting his death

Two military jeeps joined around 40 farmers who went to their fields that Saturday. After Jihad telephoned, at around 2 P.M., Jawdat told a soldier who spoke Arabic that something bad was happening at the spring. His impression was that the soldier brushed him off contemptuously. Meanwhile, Ibrahim, 42, hurried down the hill toward the spring. He was carrying a walking stick that he uses when tending the sheep. Jihad had already fled from the scene. Some of the sheep had wandered off. The settlers were standing among the sheep that remained and, according to Ibrahim, were hitting them. There were perhaps 10 or 20 settlers. “What have the sheep done to you?” Ibrahim shouted to them in Arabic.

At this point, other family members joined him. In the meantime, three or four soldiers arrived at the scene and prevented them from approaching the sheep. The number of settlers increased. Most of them were wearing white shirts. Two of them were, apparently, armed.

Ibrahim says he waved his stick to chase a settler away from a sheep. A soldier grabbed him, he says, and hit him with the butt of his rifle, below the eye. He fell and got up, bleeding. He saw the soldier taking out plastic handcuffs to detain him. Ibrahim ran away, “out of fear they would leave me to the settlers, who would beat me” – as had happened the previous month in Orif. There were shots, he says, as he began walking toward the south, bleeding.

The soldiers who prevented Jawdat from going to his brother handcuffed him and sat him forcibly on the ground. One soldier hit him with a baton on his ear, he says. Another soldier kicked him in the same place. As he was sitting with his hands secured behind his back, he saw some of the settlers approaching him and had the impression that one was holding an ax. At that point, he says, he shut his eyes and awaited his death.

Jawdat believes he was hit with the blunt edge of the ax and lost consciousness. Eyewitnesses say that some two hours elapsed before the soldiers would allow the residents to rescue him. He remembers waking when he was transferred from an Israeli ambulance to a Palestinian one, on his way to a hospital in Nablus.

The confrontation took place in a number of spaces. No one saw the entire picture. The Akraba residents who were being attacked had the feeling that the number of settlers was constantly growing, and that there were many dozens of them. The two sides began throwing stones at each other. The soldiers fired into the air, and stun grenades and tear gas were employed against the villagers who wanted to help their fellow residents. A fire broke out in the fields, either through arson or because of the stun and tear-gas grenades. One of the villagers was wounded by a tear-gas canister. Another was hit in the arm by a rubber-coated bullet, which left a deep wound and required hospitalization.

Another relative, Adwan Bani Jaber, 58, was also in the fields. “At a distance of some 800 meters from the orchard, I came across soldiers and a settler,” he says. “A soldier began shooting and I asked him, ‘Why are you shooting? This is my home.’ And he shouted, ‘Go back!’ I asked him: ‘Where should I go? This is my home.’ The soldier then told me there was no problem, and that there were no injured.”

Adwan says he suddenly felt a blow to his head. It was a stone which, he says, was thrown by a settler, in the presence of the soldiers.

The IDF spokesman said that the army had no reports about the injuries to the three family members. He says that on July 7, “a confrontation developed between a number of settlers and a number of Palestinians. A large number of Palestinians continued to arrive at the scene of the confrontation and there was stone throwing from both sides. The Palestinians started some conflagrations. The security forces began acting to disperse the confrontation and used means for the dispersal of demonstrations. During the incident, one settler and two Palestinians were lightly injured. The injured were treated by army medical personnel at the scene, and they then evacuated the Palestinians to hospital for further treatment. The event was investigated by senior officers and the required lessons were learned.”

Jihad reported that 14 sheep were killed – four died that day and the remainder in the next few days. He no longer takes the sheep to drink at the spring.

The entire agricultural area was once again closed to residents of Akraba and Yanun. From afar, they can see the settlers who live in firing range 904A, tending their fields.

Israel delays entry of foreign dignitaries to West Bank, puts PA meeting in peril: Haaretz

Palestinian leaders due to meet ministers representing states of the Non-Aligned Movement, discuss renewed attempts to gain Palestinian statehood.

By Amira Hass | Aug.05, 2012 | 12:36 PM

Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi,  Mahmoud Abbas, and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki.

Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi (R) meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki. Photo by Reuters

A meeting in Ramallah between Palestinian leaders and ministers representing states of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) that was scheduled for Sunday evening may not take place since Israel has yet authorized the foreign delegates’ entry into the West Bank.

The meeting was announced on Saturday by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, who said that the purpose of the session was to introduce NAM members to the Palestinian situation and to ask for their support, should they ask to become a non-member state in the United Nations General Assembly.

“The meeting aims to stress the right of our people and leadership to hold conferences on our land and to support our struggle to end the occupation and settlements and establish our independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” said al-Malki.

However, Haaretz has learned that preparations for the meeting have been halted, and that the session could ultimately be cancelled since Israel is delaying the required transit passes into the West Bank.

The report has not yet been confirmed by either Israeli or Palestinian officials.

The meeting in Ramallah was meant to be participated by the foreign ministers of 12 NAM members, including Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamel Amr, South African Labor Minister Mildred Oliphant, as well as ministers from states with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Cuba.

Some of the ministers were supposed to enter the West Bank through the Allenby Bridge in the Jordan Valley, while others were due to be carried into the territory using helicopters.

Israeli envoy: Palestinians have ‘guaranteed majority’ in bid for UN membership: Haaretz

Ron Prosor tells local radio stations that Palestinian Authority will likely receive non-member observer status, but says: ‘Nothing will change on the ground’.

By Reuters | Aug.05, 2012 | 10:03 AM |  8

Prosor - David Bachar - February 2011

Isreali Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, in February 2011. Photo by David Bachar
By Amira Hass | Aug.05,2012 | 10:03 AM

The Palestinians’ bid to upgrade their status at the United Nations would find majority support there but would not bring them closer to statehood and peace with Israel, Israel’s UN envoy said on Sunday.

Citing stalled peacemaking and Israeli settlement-building on occupied West Bank land where they seek sovereign independence, the Palestinians said on Saturday they would renew a bid to win UN.recognition as a state.

Ron Prosor, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, accused the Palestinians of trying to recapture international attention that has shifted to crises in Iran, Egypt and Syria.

“There is an attempt [by the Palestinians] to make unilateral moves in order to internationalize the conflict,” Prosor told Israel Radio in a telephone interview.

“But beyond what are perhaps the feelings of frustration, it is important to remember that the path to peace really is through the negotiating table with Israel.”

The Palestinians want to found a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. Though Israel quit Gaza in 2005, it claims East Jerusalem as its capital – a move not recognized abroad – and says it would keep swathes of West Bank settlements under any peace deal. The United Nations deems the settlements illegal.

Full UN membership for Palestine would require approval by the Security Council, where Israel’s ally, the United States, would likely wield its veto given its demand the Palestinians set up their state in agreement with the Jewish state.

So the Palestinians, in what they describe as an interim move, plan to ask the UN General Assembly next month to accord them non-member observer status, which would allow them to join a number of UN agencies and the International Criminal Court.

The Palestinians are currently a UN observer “entity” with no voting rights. A similar statehood upgrade drive last year proved short-lived amid financial sanctions and diplomatic counter-lobbying by Israel and the United States.

Prosor said the Palestinians have a “guaranteed majority” in the 193-member General Assembly – enough to bestow non-member observer status, which the envoy predicted would be used “to hurt us (Israel)” in various international forums.

Israel has accused Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of going to the United Nations to evade negotiations that would entail both territorial compromise and that he reassert control over Gaza, which he lost in a 2007 civil war to Hamas Islamists hostile to Israel.

“In essence, Abu Mazen [Abbas] today has zero control in Gaza,” Prosor said in separate remarks to Israel’s Army Radio, adding that the Palestinians’ UN campaign “will change nothing on the ground”.

Palestinians have made a freeze on Israeli settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem a condition for returning to peace talks. Israel cites biblical and historical ties to the areas and says the settlement issue should be decided in negotiations.

Documents: Israel used Waqf land to build settlements, separation fence: Haaretz

Palestinian Authority and Waqf are trying to back get lands that were transferred over the decades to settlements and the separation fence, a PA official tells Haaretz.

By Akiva Eldar | Aug.05, 2012 | 1:25 AM |  7

A date field at the edge of Jericho.

A date field at the edge of Jericho. Photo by Daniel Bar-On

Land belonging to the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust, has been transferred over the decades to settlements and the separation fence, according to Waqf documents and maps compiled by the Israel Defense Forces’ Civil Administration.

The Palestinian Authority and Waqf are trying to get these lands back, an official from the PA’s Interior Ministry has told Haaretz. The plots in question were transferred between 1967 and 2008 and are located mostly in the Jericho area.

The Civil Administration’s maps have been obtained by settlements researcher Dror Etkes following a long legal battle. They show that the Waqf area within land under full Israeli control near Jericho totals 37,000 dunams.

Jewish homes and public facilities have been built on some of this land. The land was registered under proper land-registry procedures before the Six-Day War.

55,000 dunams in question

The Waqf says the land in the Jericho area that Israel appropriated for settlement and military purposes actually totals 55,000 dunams. The largest area, north of a village 10 kilometers north of Jericho, contains the entire area of the Na’aran and Yitav settlements, and most of the area claimed by the Nativ Hagdud settlement.

In this area, there is also a quarry used by Jewish settlements. The Good Samaritan Archaeological Museum, run by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority east of Ma’aleh Adumim, is also located on Waqf lands.

A document obtained by Haaretz reveals that months before the Six-Day War, Jordanian authorities ordered that one tract of land in the region be removed from the state registry and registered in the Waqf’s name. Ibrahim Za’atra, a Waqf official in Jerusalem, told Haaretz that he has documents proving that lands were registered with the Waqf as early as 1955.

Responding to the Waqf’s appeals, officials responsible for abandoned property in the West Bank have said the state has no definite intention at this stage to use the property. The officials promised that if the state puts together a plan to use the land, it will properly notify the Waqf.

“There is a reasonable chance that land in this area does not belong to the state,” Uri Mendes, head of the Civil Administration’s infrastructure department, wrote to the secretary of Kibbutz Na’aran.

“This clarification follows claims by Waqf representatives regarding Jordanian land registration shortly before the Six-Day War, and Jordanian directives that the land be registered in the Waqf’s name and not as belonging to Jordan. The implications of this fact are extensive, and ramifications for the kibbutz are clear and decisive. I am surprised you are not aware of this issue.”

The Civil Administration says the Waqf lands lie within private land in the West Bank, so information about them cannot be disclosed.

Etkes, the settlements researcher, called such explanations “another despicable attempt by the Civil Administration to conceal from the public another chapter in the story of land appropriation in the West Bank, and its transfer to settlers.”

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