Palestinians make chair for UN seat for Palestine

As Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu works to follow-up on his faxes sent a week ago to leaders around the world urging them to oppose any Palestinian change of status at the United Nations, and as the U.S. sent a message from Washington [hand-delivered to Jericho by the U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem last Friday] threatening a cut-off of some half-billion dollars in aid per year if any Palestinian move is made, Ma’an News Agency has just reported that a group of men in the West Bank have forged ahead, and built a special chair intended to seat the State of Palestine in the United Nations.

[With regard to the reported U.S. threat to cut off aid to the Palestinians, it should also be noted that the Israeli Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Prime Minister Netanyahu in a recent phone call that the Obama Administration “would find it difficult” to support Israel’s position at the UN unless an apology is offered to Turkey for the deaths of 9 men killed during the Israeli naval interception of the Mavi Marmara on the high seas in the eastern Mediterranean on 31 May  2010…UPDATE: and it was just reported by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, here, that Netanyahu is asking for a six-month delay in the publication of the UN report which is being held up, pending a possible Israeli apology, a move that the paper says was not warmly welcomed in Ankara. According to Hurriyet, the report’s publication date is still set for Friday 2 September…]

According to the report, published here, engineer Sufian Al-Qawasmi told Ma’an that “the idea for the small blue chair came from Ramallah”:

Seat for Palestine in the UN - chair made in Jenin - photo by Ma'an

The story says that the chair is made of “cloth from Nablus weaved [sic] in Hebron”, and put together in Jenin, “and two keys symbolizing refugees’ right to return were sent from Jerusalem, said Al-Qawasmi, who supervised the design of the chair. He said the olive-wood chair was made in 48 hours to represent 1948, the year of the Nakba when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee their homes as the state of Israel was established. ‘As the UN seat was a demand to represent Palestine as a state, we ourselves decided to send the seat of Palestine to the UN’, Al-Qawasmi said”.

Meanwhile, a debate has flared between some opposed to the Palestinian leadership’s possible/planned move at the UN, which somehow is popularly supposed to materialize on the 20th of September [though sometime in October, or in November. is also a possibility.]

The debate went ballistic with a “legal opinion” written by Guy Goodwin-Gil and posted in full here.

In this “legal opinion”, Goodwin-Gill wrote, in para (3), without further explanation: “I am advised that one possibility being debated involves the replacement of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and its ‘substitution’, within the United Nations, by the State of Palestine as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.

But, he did not say who, exactly, advised him of this… or what, exactly, is the factual basis for saying this.

We only learn,  later [see below], who advised him.   But, we are never given any factual basis…

Continue reading Palestinians make chair for UN seat for Palestine

SIDEBAR: the evidence

Israel launched reprisal attacks on Gaza within hours of the Eilat-area attacks on Thursday 18 August.

Not too long afterwards, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu went on Israeli television and told his country and the world that the PRC, a small resistance group in Gaza, was responsible — and that Popular Resistance Committee [PRC] leaders [who Netanyahu said had ordered the attack] were “no longer among the living”. Further Israeli attacks killed more PRC leaders in continuing attacks on Thursday night, and civilians were also killed, including several children.

The Israeli attacks are continuing, as is retaliatory firing of projectiles from Gaza onto surrounding Israeli communities.

On Saturday morning, the IDF Spokesperson, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich [@AvitalLeibovich] sent out a Tweet with a link to a photo that she described this way: “Here is what one of the terrorist that killed Israelis on Thursday, carried upon his body:”

The link led to this photo:

Photo presented by IDF – initially captioned as taken on January 27 2008


The IDF photo is posted on a Flickr site.  [noteFlickr takes the info automatically from the original photos – unless, of course, they are copied, and the coding is then changed…]

The caption material read:

Explosives from the 18/8/11 Multi-Pronged Terror Attack

August 19, 2011
“Explosive materials and weapons found on the bodies of the terrorists who carried out a multi-pronged terror attack that targeted Israeli civilians on August 18, 2011. The terror attack left eight people dead and about 40 injured.
“In a premeditated attack, terrorists targeted Israeli civilians, who were on their way to Eilat, a popular tourist destination for summer vacations. All of the incidents took place near the Israel-Egypt border. According to Israeli intelligence, the terrorists originated from Gaza”.

Then, I happened to notice the information written to the right side of the photo.

It read [at least it did, this morning]:
By Israel Defense Forces
This photo was taken, on January 27, 2008 using a Nikon D700.

Continue reading SIDEBAR: the evidence

Israeli Defense Minister Barak Expresses Regret over Egyptian military deaths on Thursday in Eilat-areaattacks

Acknowledging the significance and importance of the moment, after a chaotic day of ambushes, fighting and hot pursuit in the area of Eilat on Thursday — and some 48 hours of subsequent reprisal attacks on Gaza — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Saturday that “Israel regrets the deaths of the three Egyptian policemen during the attack on the Israel-Egypt border”.

At least three Egyptian military personnel — Egyptian officials are more consistently now mentioning five — were reportedly killed by IDF soldiers in pursuit, apparently, of people they assumed were among the attackers.

Funerals of Egyptian military or police killed on 18 August in attacks near Eilat - Photo by AFP, published on Israel's YNet website

Haaretz said that “IDF soldiers fired across the Israel-Egypt border as they intercepted the terrorist cell behind the attacks near Eilat”.

According to the report in Haaretz, published here, “Barak ordered the IDF to investigate the incident after which a joint investigation will be conducted with the Egyptian military to determine the circumstances of the incident”.

Barak reportedly “expressed appreciation for the ‘discretion and responsibility’ shown by Egypt”.

Continue reading Israeli Defense Minister Barak Expresses Regret over Egyptian military deaths on Thursday in Eilat-areaattacks

UNRWA says it's located most Palestinian refugees who fled Rimal camp in Latakia, Syria

Chris Gunness, UNRWA Spokesman based in the Agency’s Sheikh Jarrah office in Jerusalem, sent out a message Friday saying that “Many people around the world were shocked by the images of unarmed refugees being shot at as they fled from their homes, amid the firing on their refugee camp. But the good news is that our incredibly courageous local UNRWA staff have established a temporary office in Latakia, outside the refugee camp … [and] have located about 6,000 of the 7,500 refugees displaced by the fighting. UNRWA has been able to assist them with cash grants for food, medicine and accommodation. Many, particularly the children and women, are traumatized and in a poor condition … the refugees are too frightened to return to their homes there and are not returning. UNRWA has not had access — draw your own conclusions about what that means about the security situation there and the state of the camp”.

Where are these people staying? Elsewhere in Latakia, for the most part, Chris explained, either with relatives or friends. Apparently, Latakia’s Rimal camp for Palestinian refugees is still considered totally unsafe, and “some are sleeping in the rough”, he added.

Continue reading UNRWA says it's located most Palestinian refugees who fled Rimal camp in Latakia, Syria


After attacks on a bus and a car and later on another target a bit north of the Israeli southern city of Eilat along the border between the Israeli Negev and the Egyptian Sinai on Thursday, there is incomprehension at subsequent Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

The Israeli attacks on Gaza, hundreds of kilometers to the north, were in retaliation for attacks by unknown persons apparently wearing Egyptian military uniforms.

The New York Times reported from Cairo and Israel that “The attacks [n.b. – which in its later stages looked more like a battle in Eilat] on Thursday began about midday when gunmen opened fire on an Israeli passenger bus carrying soldiers and civilians from the southern city of Beersheba to Eilat. The Israeli military said other attackers fired on a second bus and on two civilian vehicles at another point on the road, which runs along the Egyptian border, and detonated a roadside bomb near Israeli soldiers who were on their way to the scene of the initial attack … The attacks unfolded over several hours, with the second of the soldiers being shot to death at nightfall. Television images from the scene showed shattered windows and bullet holes in the first bus. The second bus, which was empty except for the driver, was a burned-out shell. Military officials said it appeared that a suicide bomber had detonated explosives alongside it”. It total, 8 Israelis were killed [1 soldier, and 1 police sniper], and some 30 were wounded. This report is published here.

Time magazine reported that “Israel shut down all roads into Eilat and sent hundreds of troops on a manhunt. Officials said seven attackers were killed, three inside Israel and four in Egypt — two by Israeli forces in hot pursuit, and two by actual Egyptian soldiers, according to reports. An Israeli military official said the hunt would continue. ‘This kind of operations requires more than seven people’, he said”. The Time article said that “What headlines described as a terrorist attack in the desert just north of the Israeli resort city of Eilat was in fact a sustained assault, a complex military attack that included missiles, mortars, improvised explosive devices, small arms and, on the bodies of two of the seven assailants killed, explosive vests”. Time’s article is published here.

The initial attack took place near an Egyptian military encampment. It was reported on Friday that between three and five [or, now six?] Egyptian soldiers were killed by the IDF as they were in hot pursuit of the attackers. Egypt made a formal protest on Friday.

[This brings the number of those killed in and near Eilat on Thursday to 8 Israelis, 6 Egyptian soldiers, and 7 attackers — whoever they turn out to be — for a total of 21 dead in these attacks. And, at least ten Palestinians were then killed in retaliatory Israeli attacks on Gaza so far, making a total of 31 in the past 36 hours or so. Casualties in Gaza are mounting by the hour now. On Friday evening, the Qassam brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, called off the truce it proclaimed with Israel on 18 January 2009, at the end of the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead …]

Continue reading Confusion

Anti-mine campaign denounces new IDF minefields planted in Golan to stop civilians

Australian media analyst/publisher/journalist Mike Hitchen has just written a post on his blog, here, reporting that the Campaign to Ban Landmines has strongly condemned the IDF move — leaked and widely reported authoritatively in the Israeli media, though only coyly hinted at by the IDF spokespersons — to plant new mines in the Golan to deter protesters coming across from Syria in September.

Israeli soldiers were reportedly stunned to see Palestinian protesters coming from Syria and crossing old minefields in the Golan in protests on May 15 [Nakba Day, marking the dispossesion of some 700,000 Palestinians in the fighting that surrounded the creation of the State of Israel in 1948] and June 5 [Naksa Day, commemorating the 1967 war].

Reports about what happened are contradictory. A recent news story suggested that old landmines failed to go off during both protests, which is a justification for planting new landmines. Earlier reports said that new mines had been planted between May 15 and June 5. A number of protesters were reportedly killed by landmine explosions set off, according to the IDF Northern Command, when brush fires set off by their Molotov cocktails exploded some mines [not clear whether these were new, or old, and the explanation is curious]…

The IDF spokespersons have not responded to multiple requests from this journalist for clarification, and correct information.

In September, the Palestinian leadership has announced, it intends to move to upgrade Palestine’s status at the UN. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has recently called for non-violent popular demonstrations in support of the move, at the same time. The IDF has publicly announced it is making various types of massive preparations in anticipation of possible protests in the coming weeks.

In Mike Hitchen’s post, he reports that Kasia Derlicka, Director of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), said that “There can be absolutely no justification for the use of these indiscriminate weapons, and to hear that these mines are aimed at civilians is particularly shocking … Earlier this year the Israeli government began clearing some of its deadly minefields, in recognition of their lethal humanitarian impact. Now, at the same time, to use this inhumane weapon against civilians is absolutely disgraceful”.

On Twitter, on 15 August, the @IDFSpokesperson called our attention to a video dated 28 July, on which the Golan Brigade Commander is speaking, apparently to journalists [well, they are holding microphones], in a public information exercise to show off [as deterrence, as well as reassurance to the Israeli public] the new fence that the IDF has built in the Golan since May and June, to ward off more protests. This video [subtitled in English] is posted on the IDF Spokesperson website here, and it is also on Youtube here.

In the video, the IDF Golan Brigade Commander, Colonel Eshkol Shukron, says that the IDF will not tolerate “border provocations” by “terrorists or civilians from Syria“:

The new fence, he said very suggestively, is only “one of a number of components” that Israel is deploying on the Golan to stop further protests [the IDF calls them “provocations”, “infiltrations”, and “riots”] … but made no mention of landmines.

The IDF language here does raise a problem — it is linguistically, and conceptually, turning unarmed civilian demonstrators into military [security] threats, and effectively describing them as legitimate targets.

IDF use of the language of propaganda, as here, is both unnecessary and dangerous — and gives rise to serious alarm about how events will be handled in the coming period.

Continue reading Anti-mine campaign denounces new IDF minefields planted in Golan to stop civilians

Al Jazeera correspondent in Afghanistan in Israeli jail after returning for vacation to his home + family in Nablus

The Al-Jazeera bureau chief in Afghanistan, Samer Allawi, a Palestinian from the West Bank, has been in Israeli detention for the past week, He was stopped and taken into custody just before crossing the border to Jordan, as he was returning to Afghanistan following a three-week visit to his home and family in the West Bank.

According to a statement issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ] in New York, Allawi “was arrested at al-Karama border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank while leaving the Occupied Territories after a three-week vacation in his hometown near Nablus, Al-Jazeera reported. Allawi’s brother, Musaab, told Al-Jazeera that the journalist intended to cross into Jordan then travel back to Kabul. He had entered the West Bank at the same crossing without difficulty three weeks earlier … [T]he authorities provided no justification for holding the journalist, who carries a Jordanian passport, and said only that it was a ‘security-related arrest’, Al-Jazeera reported. On Thursday, Israeli authorities informed Allawi’s employer that his detention would be extended to eight days, but again failed to provide a reason. Majed Khader, program editor and head of assignments at Al-Jazeera, said Allawi told Salim Waqeem, a lawyer hired for him by Al-Jazeera, that he would be charged with transferring money and orders from Afghanistan to the West Bank if he refused to act as an informant…”

UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday 16 August here that “Israel has arrested the Al Jazeera’s Afghanistan bureau chief, a Palestinian, on charges of ties to Hamas. Samer Allawi, 46, was picked up August 10 on the border between the West Bank and Jordan, the Arabic-language satellite station said Tuesday. Allawi was detained August 10 after a three-week visit with family in Sabastia, a village adjacent to Nablus”.

The JPost story added that “An Israeli security official confirmed Allawi’s arrest and court appearance but gave no further details on the case. Walied Al-Omary, Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said the military court accused Allawi of making contact with members of Hamas’s armed wing. Al Jazeera Arabic’s website posted footage of Allawi appearing in court in an Israel Prison Services uniform. ‘There is nothing in this investigation that I believe harms Israel, like it is being claimed, or has any relationship with my work in this entire region’, he told the judge”…

Continue reading Al Jazeera correspondent in Afghanistan in Israeli jail after returning for vacation to his home + family in Nablus

The Wall is only about 70 percent complete, new deadline for completion is … not until 2020

Jamal Juma’, in an interview with Ida Audeh published on the Electronic Intifada [EI] website, said, about the announced intention of the Palestinian leadership to go to the UN in September, that: “We have been talking to the national forces and leftist and democratic forces and institutions, as well as to the Palestinian human rights [and civil society organizations]. We developed a working paper that outlines our positions. We wanted to get a legal perspective on what international law says about going to the UN. We concluded that we should in fact go to the UN but not in order to establish a state on the 1967 borders. We should be demanding that the membership of the PLO be raised to state status“…

What should go to the UN Security Council, Juma said, is the un-implemented Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice in the Hague on The Wall.

Continue reading The Wall is only about 70 percent complete, new deadline for completion is … not until 2020

Report that Israel placed more anti-personnel mines in Golan in advance of September protests

This is a story that gets little reaction, despite more news coming in from time to time.

This time, it’s from a report, presumably in Hebrew, published in an Israeli military magazine.

The right-wing Israeli website, Arutz Sheva, is reporting here, that the latest edition of the Bemachaneh (On the Base) military magazine says that “Anti-personnel mines have been placed beyond the Golan border fence but on Israel’s side of the border … The mining in the area of the Golan territorial brigade is the first phase of activity that will extend to all of the border covered by the Israel Defense Forces’ 36th Division”.

The report also says that mines “already in place did not go off” during the May 15 protests in which Palestinian and Syrian protesters crossed the Golan and briefly entered the Israeli-controlled town of Majdel Shams, before being returned to Syria.  And, it says, this new planting of anti-personnel mines “is in addition to the erection of fences, the digging of trenches and other measures to prevent incursions by demonstrators or other hostile forces in September, when violence is expected to accompany the Palestinian Authority’s announced intent to unilaterally declare a state. Anti-tank mines are also being upgraded or replaced, in the first mining of the area in 10 years“.

UPDATE: The AP is now reporting, on Saturday 13 August, that “An Israeli army magazine says the military is planting new land mines along the border with Syria to dissuade protesters from rushing into the Golan Heights. The army decided to go ahead with the move after older mines failed to detonate when Syrian demonstrators rushed into the border area in June during a protest against Israel’s occupation. Israeli forces opened fire, killing some 20 protesters in efforts to push the crowd back. The mines are also part of beefed-up measures Israel is taking ahead of rallies that Palestinians are planning to hold in September”. This AP report is posted here.

NOTE: Our earlier reports on this story are posted:
17 June – here, and
16 June – here,
And our even earlier posts on this are:
9 June – here;
8 June – here;
and 7 June – here.

Continue reading Report that Israel placed more anti-personnel mines in Golan in advance of September protests

Jordan Valley: Jericho water well in danger — it's in Area A on Palestinian map, but Israeli military map says it's Area C – UPDATED

Israeli military activity in the Jordan Valley has increasingly targetted isolated and poor Bedouin communities in recent months, following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent public raising — again — of an Israeli claim to retain control, for security reasons, of the border area along the Jordan River and of large parts of the Jordan Valley, which constitutes a large part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Surprisingly, one gleaming new privately-owned Palestinian family agricultural enterprise in Jericho, a date palm farm and a separate packing factory not far from the Dead Sea in the Jordan Valley, has also been hit with sudden demolition orders for an essential new well it was digging, adjacent to an established well it has been using that was licensed and opened when the West Bank was under direct Jordanian rule in 1961.

Both of the wells are in danger of demolition, according to the orders issued in late July by the Israeli Defense Ministry’s “Civil Administration” in the West Bank.

This is a large-scale business venture, with real potential to advance development of the Palestinian agricultural sector — one of the motors of the future Palestinian economy.

Four thousand threatened date palm trees under cultivation are on the verge of producing fruit in the coming weeks.

But, if the water wells are destroyed, the date palm trees will soon die in the summer heat that sometimes reaches 50 degrees Centigrade.

Manasrah date pale tree farm in Jericho - photo by Mohamed Jaradat

Continue reading Jordan Valley: Jericho water well in danger — it's in Area A on Palestinian map, but Israeli military map says it's Area C – UPDATED