Amira Hass explains horrifying implications of the amendments to Israeli military order 1651

There is a lot that happened that is not public in the negotiations to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit [seized near Gaza in June 2006], in exchange for the release of some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners [in 2 lots].

And there is a lot that was not publicly reported, or well-explained.

Amira Hass wrote in Haaretz today that some of it amounts to “another act of sabotage and erosion of principles of fair process by military law”.

Her article, posted here, and entitled “Guilty until Proven Innocent”, focuses on rearrests, by the IDF and by the Shin Bet security agency, of some of the Palestinian prisoners released in the exchange for Shalit, who was allowed to go out from Gaza in October 2011. The re-arrests are justified by claims that the Palestinian ex-prisoners had violated the conditions of their release — conditions that are either unclear or possibly secret. The evidence that these ex-prisoners had violated these secret conditions is also secret.  She explained:
“The military legislators took a page from civil law, borrowing the damaging clauses concerning releasing prisoners with suspended sentences. At the same time, they ignored the balances in civilian law. They copied from the tradition of administrative detention (imprisonment without trial), and more than anything else, were inspired by the rage of political and defense officials, who believed Hamas managed to twist their arm. Thus, in 2009, two changes were made to the security decree clauses 184 and 186, and decree 1651, which deals with reprieves.

And this is how we have a military release committee, consisting exclusively of officials from the same apparatus that convicted the prisoner in the first place (and does not include social workers or education officials, as its civilian counterpart does.) In fact, the military law allows the arrest of a person until a military release committee decides if an offense has been committed (a civilian committee has no authority to arrest people), with automatic punishment and no need for a conviction.

The IDF and Shin Bet can hide behind ‘confidential evidence’, just as in administrative detention, but without the judicial review every several months, and we also have the committee’s lack of power of discretion: The committee, according to new changes in the decree and in contrast to a civilian committee, must return the released prisoner to jail for the entire term.

And even if a new indictment is submitted, based on new evidence; and even if the offense is not considered serious by the occupying power’s laws, who tend to see every Palestinian as guilty unless proved otherwise, and create offenses from seemingly daily actions such as talking to someone in the grocery store or participating in a demonstration; if convicted, the released prisoner will be sent back to prison, possibly for decades”.

This is more than chilling.

Continue reading “Amira Hass explains horrifying implications of the amendments to Israeli military order 1651”

The day after Palestinians were evicted on Netanyahu's order from Bab Al-Shams…

Daniel Seidemann sent out a pair of Tweets on Sunday, saying:
Daniel Seidemann @DanielSeidemann – Noteworthy Bibi: Won’t allow any1 to harm contiguity bet Jerusalem & Maale Adumim. i.e. 20 tents, 200 protesters harm Israeli contiguity
Daniel Seidemann @DanielSeidemann – But rightwing spinmeisters claim that 3500 settler units, 12000 permanent settlers won’t effect contiguity of Palestinian State. Orwell.

Amira Hass reported in her Haaretz piece, published today, that “because of the ongoing storm last week, there was no choice but to tell those who had registered for the ‘camp’ what the real plan was, to ascertain how many would actually participate. On Thursday, despite the snow, nearly 300 people came to a meeting in Ramallah. Mohammed Khatib, a member of the popular committees from Bil’in, said that about half of those who came to the meeting were new – people who had never taken part in protest activities before. He’s convinced that if not for the weather, 1,000 people would have showed up. The participants agreed to set up the tent camp on a plot that aerial photographs showed was private land whose owners had agreed to the protest. Afterward it emerged that in 2006, Israel had declared part of the land ‘state land’.” This is reported here.

She also noted that “This is not the first time that the popular committees have held a protest that went beyond village borders and the route of the security fence. For example, two months ago they organized the blocking of roads and of the entrances to settlements as part of Palestinian Youth Week, which, though successfully executed, was almost immediately erased from memory by the assassination of Ahmed Jabari in Gaza and the ensuing Operation Pillar of Defense. A month before that, they organized a demonstration against the purchase of settlement products in the Rami Levy supermarket east of Ramallah. But here the committees come up against another contradiction: One-off protests interest the media and public for a few hours, and then are forgotten. Only continuous activity can develop the tools for a mass resistance movement. For now, however, the Palestinian public, as frustrated and outraged as it may be, isn’t drawn to continuous activity and in any case doubts its ability to struggle and the ultimate effectiveness of mass resistance”.

Time Magazine’s Karl Vick wrote that “In fact, it was the General Assembly’s Nov. 29 vote making Palestine a nonmember state that stirred Netanyahu to announce what Daniel Seidemann, who heads an Israeli NGO dealing with conflict resolution in Jerusalem, called the “doomsday settlement” — apparently to demonstrate that Israel retains the power to render the notion of statehood moot by choking the West Bank with Jewish homes at its narrowest point” — E-1 [which the Prime Minister’s Office refers to only as “the area between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem…] This Time Magazine report is published here.

Vick interviewed Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, who was in Bab Al-Shams when Israeli police + soldiers evicted the Palestinian activists: “ ‘If we want peace, we have to resist — nonviolently, but resist — and counter Israeli facts on the ground with Palestinian facts on the ground’, Mustafa Bargouthi, the Palestinian activist who helped organize the camp, tells TIME, a few hours after being arrested and deposited at the edge of Ramallah, the West Bank city. ‘They’re allowing Israeli settlers to stay on Palestinian land, while at the same time within 48 hours they attack and remove us’.”

Vick also spoke to Peace Now’s settlement watch director, Hagit Ofran:
“Israeli soldiers barred the international news media from witnessing the police sweep. Photographers who were already inside the camp recorded the action, which unfolded without significant injury to either side. The news blockade — a literal thing, as Israeli forces manned roadblocks on roads approaching the site — served to confirm that the Palestinian activists had mounted a potent demonstration. ‘It’s in my view a very successful protest that is exposing the Israeli policy in many ways’, says Hagit Ofran, who monitors settlements for the Israeli advocacy group Peace Now. ‘First of all, it puts E-1 back on the political agenda. Maybe it’s because we’re on the eve of elections, but the Prime Minister himself was responding to this provocation’.”

And, in a lovely piece, international law expert and academic, Tel Aviv University Professor Aeyal Gross wrote in Haaretz here that:
“One is likely to miss the far wider context against which the Bab al-Shams outpost must be understood, if they focus only on the question of whether there was indeed an ‘urgent security need’ on Saturday night (‘security’ in this case only pertaining to the Israeli perspective), or if they concentrate on addressing whether the land is state or private, while ignoring the question of planning discrimination. The bigger picture reveals that the real illegality is of the land policies of the occupying regime, and not that of the founders of the outpost. In fact, when the organizers of the outpost wrote, ‘We, the sons and daughters of Palestine, announce the establishment of the village of Bab al-Shams (gate of the sun). We the people, without permission from the occupation, without permission from anyone, sit here today because this land is our land, and it is our right to inhabit it’, they recaptured their right to the land, in an action that was more faithful to the substantive rule of law and to international law than Israel’s actions with the land”.

Professor Gross discussed the Israeli notion of “State land”:  “it should be remembered that land in the occupied territories that is declared as ‘state land’ is often land that was worked and used privately by Palestinians – and was declared to be state land in a variety of problematic legal ways.  Furthermore, state lands in the occupied territories are meant to serve the population of these territories, and the occupying country holds them in trust: It is forbidden for it to settle its own citizens there. In practice, Israel utilizes most of the land in favor of the settlers. According to reports from the non-profit organization Bimkom and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel ignores the planning needs of the Palestinian population, while the Civil Administration’s policies makes it extremely difficult for Palestinians to receive planning permission, and the plans it outlines do not meet the needs of the Palestinian population. For this reason, the Israel Defense Forces’ claim that the Palestinian outpost is illegal and that it constitutes the invasion of state land falls apart when contrasted with the far more wide-ranging illegality of the way in which the Palestinian population is prevented from the possibility of using land designated for them, as a result of it being declared state land, and because of the discriminatory planning policies that dispossessed the Palestinians for the benefit of settlements which are illegal according to international law. Israel is the one that encroached on Palestinian land, not the opposite”.

The isolation + demonization of Gaza

Here are some young men surfing — in Gaza.

The photo is the 9th in a photo album on daily life in Gaza published by The Guardian newspaper here

From Guardian GazaLive blogging + tweeting on life in Gaza - photo by Rex Features

And here is another photo, the 15th and last,  in the same Guardian photo album:
From the Guardian -  man in cart drawn by donkey on Gaza's beachfront - photo by Rex Features

The Guardian writes in what newspapers used to call a “special package” but which is here called a “live blog” on a day in the life of Gaza that there are 1.7 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip — slightly higher than other estimates [some of which have showed a decrease in the population from the previous 1.5 million round figure to 1.4 million].

Continue reading “The isolation + demonization of Gaza”

Jeff Halper of ICAHD is angry, really angry – about 5th demolition of Palestinian home in Anata

Jeff Halper, the American-Israeli director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions [ICAHD] called it a “war crime” — the 5th demolition of Beit Arabiya in Anata on Monday night.

The demolition order was issued by the Israeli military on Thursday. The bulldozers arrived on Monday night.

Jeff Halper + ICAHD have rebuilt this house four times already, after each previous demolition — and he is vowing to do so again.

He’s full of anger + adrenalin, and wrote this for +972 Magazine:

    “In the dark of night this past Monday, January 23, the IDF carried out its own Price Tag assault on ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

    At 11:30 p.m. on that cold, rainy night, I got a panicky phone call from Salim Shawamreh, a Palestinian man from the West Bank town of Anata whose home has been demolished by the Israeli authorities four times and rebuilt as an act of resistance each time by ICAHD. ‘Army bulldozers are approaching my home’, he cried. ‘Now they’re beginning to demolish it!’

    As has become routine, I alerted our activists, plus journalists and foreign diplomats, and we rushed out to Anata. We knew we could not save the homes, but we could resist; stand in solidarity with the families, soaked, with their belongings, in the rain; document what was happening and broadcast this latest war crime to the world. It was another of those thousands of attacks on Palestinians that occur daily but never reach the newspapers – probably because there are so many and they are so routine by now that they are not, in fact, ‘news’.

    By the time we reached Salim’s house – which we rebuilt in 2003 and have called Beit Arabiya ever since, the ‘house of Arabiya’, home to Salim’s wife and mother of their seven children – it was gone. Salim himself was afraid to go down the hill to see it because of the soldiers, but I ran down. Even in the dark and rain I could see the ruins of the home, and the family’s belongings that had been thrown out. But I couldn’t tarry. The bulldozers had moved up the hill and were in the process of demolishing a Jahalin Bedouin enclave there – part of the Jahalin tribe that was being removed and relocated on top of the Jerusalem garbage dump near Abu Dis…”

But, that wasn’t the end of it. Jeff continued:

    “In the end, Beit Arabiya, six Jahalin homes and most of their animal pens were demolished before the army left. The bulldozer, protected by dozens of troops, belonged to a commercial contractor who was paid well for the demolitions by the Civil Administration, Israel’s military government in the West Bank that uses the word ‘civil’ to downplay its military connections, and to make it appear that demolitions of ‘illegal’ Palestinian homes are simply part of ‘proper administration’.

    After staying with the families and promising to rebuild, we finally left to send out press releases; put out information on our website and social media; and begin mobilizing activists abroad and, through them, governments and UN bodies.

    Only when we returned early in the morning did we learn that yet another house had been demolished: that of the Abu Omar family, a family of 17 people who lived in a home that had been demolished last year, which ICAHD had rebuilt in our 2011 summer rebuilding camp. We had thought the bulldozer and soldiers had left for the Border Police base on the hill opposite Beit Arabiya and the Jahalin, but in fact they had only gone around Anata. At 3:30 a.m. they pounced on the Abu Omar family, forced them out of their home, removed their belongings and demolished it. The family was so dazed by the sudden violence, terror, confusion and need to protect the terrified children that they hadn’t even thought of phoning us…”

Information posted hours later on the ICAHD website, here, gave more details on the demolition of this second ICAHD-rebuilt house, and tells us that:

    “This morning, Israeli authorities demolished the home of the Abu Omar family, rebuilt by ICAHD in July 2011. The Abu Omar family home, built in 1990 on privately owned land, was demolished by the Israeli military in 2005. Ahmed Abu Omar (46) had applied for a building permit, but was refused on the grounds that his land was zoned as an ‘agricultural area’. This is a story we hear often, and it reflects Israel’s long-time, unlawful policy of curtailing all construction by Palestinians since 1967. They were offered neither alternative housing nor compensation for the demolition, violating international law. The construction of the Abu Omar family home, long waited since the 2005 demolition by Israel, was completed on July 24th 2011, exactly six months ago … ICAHD staff visited with the family shortly after the demolition of their home took place to find them somber, traumatized, and grief stricken. ICAHD has vowed to support the family in rebuilding their home, once more”.

That makes two previously-demolished, ICAHD-rebuilt, homes destroyed in the same military operation in Anata on the night of 23-24 January.

Anata is in Area C of the West Bank.

Area C — the largest of three zones determined by agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization — constitutes over 60 percent of West Bank land, and some 124 Israeli Jewish settlements have been built there, which impose severe restrictions on the lives of the diminishing number of Palestinians living there/

Fewer than 6% of the Palestinian population of the West Bank live in Area C, some 62% of the land.

The lack of permission and possibility for Palestinian activity in Area C has recently become a subject of renewed concern by the European Union, whose heads of mission in Jerusalem have just written, in an internal report to their Brussels headquarters, that “The Palestinian presence in the largest part of the occupied West Bank – has been ‘continuously undermined’ by Israel in ways that are ‘closing the window’ on a two-state solution”, as Donald Macintyre reported in The Independent last week, which can be read here.

Macintyre’s report in The Independent continued: “With the number of Jewish settlers now at more than double the shrinking Palestinian population in the largely rural area, the report warns bluntly that, ‘if current trends are not stopped and reversed, the establishment of a viable Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders seem more remote than ever’.”

According to the EU report, Macintyre wrote, the numbers of Palestinians living in Area C has been cut by approximately half since the Israeli occupation following its conquest in the June 1967 war — from perhaps 320,000 at the time to only 150,000 nowadays. Meanwhile, the number of Israeli settlers has grown to replacement level, and stands at 310,000 people.

Macintyre added that the latest Heads of Mission end-of-year internal report “is the EU’s starkest critique yet of how a combination of house and farm building demolitions; a prohibitive planning regime; relentless settlement expansion; the military’s separation barrier; obstacles to free movement; and denial of access to vital natural resources, including land and water, is eroding Palestinian tenure of the large tract of the West Bank on which hopes of a contiguous Palestinian state depend”.

The Heads of Mission report recommended that the EU should “support Palestinian presence in, and development of the area”, according to The Independent.

Amira Hass wrote in Haaretz, here, that: “A newly approved internal report of European Heads of Mission, titled ‘Area C and Palestinian State Building’, cautioned that the chances for a two-state solution on 1967 borders will be lost if Israel does not change its policies in Area C. ‘What’s special about this report is that we are all partners in it and agree on the wording of it’, a European diplomat told Haaretz. ‘The European governments hold a variety of stances regarding the situation – with Holland representing one very pro-Israel side, and Ireland on the other side. But everyone agreed on this document’, the diplomat said, adding: ‘Israel always says it has both enemies and friends in Europe and we say: the friends think this way too about the situation in Area C’.”

Hass added that, in its final version, “the report stated that Israeli policy in Area C ‘results in forced transfer of the native population’.”

Meanwhile, in his article for +972 Magazine, Jeff wrote in anger that this was a “Price Tag” attack on Palestinians, as well as on ICAHD, on the night of 23-24 January:

    “The IDF attack on three sites that for years have been identified with ICAHD’s resistance activities was clearly an official, government-sponsored, violent Price Tag assault on Palestinians in order to ‘send a message’ to ICAHD. Out of the tens of thousands of demolition orders outstanding in the Occupied Territory, they chose these three. In fact, the ‘message’ had already been delivered. Already at the second demolition of Beit Arabiya in 1999, Micha Yakhin, the Civil Administration official responsible for overseeing the demolitions in that part of the West Bank, told me: ‘We will demolish every home you rebuild’.

    ICAHD has rebuilt 185 demolished Palestinian homes in the past 15 years, all as acts of political resistance – not humanitarian gestures – all funded by donations. We will rebuild the homes demolished Monday night as well. The coming together of Palestinian families and community members, Israeli activists and international peace-makers to rebuild homes is one of the most significant forms of resistance, solidarity and mobilization. But Israel demolished 200 homes last year alone in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, of more than 26,000 Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territory since 1967. Resistance cannot keep pace with the massive Price Tag assault that is the Israeli Occupation”.

Jeff’s account is published here.

An Israeli “Civil Administration” staff member commented that “You should know that these houses were built without permits”.

While the Israeli “Civil Administration” may have civilian Israeli and Palestinian staff, it is run by the Israeli military.

ICAHD reported on its website on [Tuesday] 24 January that they had already invited the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Adequate housing to visit Beit Arabiya during her upcoming visit later this month:

    “As its name suggests, Beit Arabiya is a home belonging to Arabiya Shawamreh, her husband Salim and their seven children, a Palestinian family whose home has been demolished four times by the Israeli authorities and rebuilt each time by ICAHD’s Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists, before being demolished again last night. At around 11p.m. Monday, a bulldozer accompanied by a contingent of heavily armed Israeli soldiers appeared on the Anata hills, to promptly demolish Beit Arabiya, along with residential and agricultural structures in the nearby Arab al-Jahalin Bedouin compound. 3 family homes were demolished along with numerous animal pans, and 20 people including young children were displaced, left exposed to the harsh desert environment. While standing in solidarity with Palestinians, ICAHD staff and activists were repeatedly threatened by Israeli soldieries. ICAHD Co-Director Itay Epshtain was beaten and sustained minor injuries.

    Beit Arabiya was issued a demolition order by Israeli authorities back in 1994, following their failure to grant a building permit … Arabiya and Salim [Shawamreh] … dedicated their home as a center for peace in the memories of Rachel Corrie and Nuha Sweidan, two women (an American and a Palestinian) who died resisting home demolitions in Gaza.

    In the past decade ICAHD has hosted numerous visitors at Beit Arabiya, and based its annual rebuilding camp at the house, rebuilding 185 demolished Palestinian homes.

    Only earlier this month, ICAHD extended an invitation to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing to visit Beit Arabiya during her country visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory scheduled for later in the month. ‘It is our hope, that while we cannot extend the same hospitality to the Special Raporteur, Prof. Raquel Rolnik will visit the ruins of Beit Arabiya, and report on the utter cruelty, and illegality of Israeli policies and practices, and that members of the international community will follow in her footsteps’, said ICAHD Co-Director Itay Epshtain”…

This is posted on the ICAHD website, here.

Recommended reading: Amira Hass on forged documents used to transfer private Palestinian land to companies that built Israeli settlements in the West Bank

Today’s recommended reading is Amira Hass’ article in Haaretz, In West Bank, buying land isn’t always what it seems, with details about forged signatures on faked land sales of Palestinian lands that became Israeli settlements in the West Bank here.

In this report, Amira Hass writes: “This has been the settlements’ method ever since they were first established: a built-up nucleus on privately owned Palestinian land and around it a much larger ring bounded by broken-in tracks (in one process or another involving paving, fences, threatening dogs, armed Israeli civilians, guards and IDF patrols ). Thus it becomes impossible for Palestinian farmers to enter the perimeter of the ring in order to continue to cultivate their lands. ‘Going out to work in the field is always accompanied by fear’, admit the council heads of the four villages we visited in recent weeks: Silwad, Beitin, Burqa and Dura al Qar’a”…

Some of the privately-owned Palestinian land was “sold” — but not by its owners. Only two persons have been indicted so far, both apparently Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, who are now charged in an Israeli court [in a suit pursued by Yesh Din] by conspiring to sell West Bank land to an Israeli company after “falsely representing that the land had been purchased by the accused from the owners”.

One of the two [referred to as S.A.] was acquitted of conspiracy, if I understand the story correctly, but he was convicted of forgery — or, to be precise, “of forging the signatures of the six owners of the land on durable powers of attorney authorizing attorneys Moshe Glick and Nir-Tzvi to carry out the transfer of the rights to the land from its six owners to the defendants. Later he had attorney Zalman Segal of Karnei Shomron notarize authorizations confirming the signatures on the powers of attorney. In five cases the notarization was done at Atarot, an industrial zone between Jerusalem and Ramallah [emphasis added here — Atarot is very near the Qalandia Checkpoint, but has carefully been left on the Israeli/Jerusalem side of the checkpoint and Wall] , ‘with the submission of false evidence’ (which the indictment does not specify exactly) as though the signatories to the powers of attorney were present before Segal and had signed in his presence. In the sixth case – that of the late Aziz Hamed – the signature of notary Segal was forged, ‘though the truth of the matter is that at that time [November 2003] he was lying unconscious in the hospital in a vegetative state after having been injured in a serious traffic accident in July 2003’, as written in the indictment. Later S.A. signed a power of attorney that transferred all his rights on the land to the Keren Leyad Midreshet Yisrael”.

S.A. was convicted in October 2009 and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, Amira Hass reported, while the other defendant [referred to as G.G.] was acquitted. Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Shulamit Dotan wrote in her decision that: ‘The move was intended to transfer lands owned by Arab residents to the ownership of Jews. The success of the conspiracy by the accused and his colleagues was liable, with very great likelihood, to have aroused hostilities between population groups in this context that could have been considered land theft. And, for their trouble, the two accused Palestinians “were to have received payment of NIS 2,000 for every forged power of attorney they signed. The indictment, like the ruling, does not indicate who was supposed to have given them that paltry sum in return for land that is so dear to the settlers’ lobby”…

Recommended Reading – Amira Hass: Palestinians are heroes

Amira Hass has written this, or things like this, in Haaretz before.

But, it’s like Picasso’s Blue period — she keeps trying to explain what she sees, over and over again, until she finally captures its essence. [I have sometimes explained what I’m doing in the same way…]

It isn’t that this time she finally got it right — no, there’s still so many things to write, so many more ways to try to describe this reality so that it’s understandable, and comprehended by those not physically here [or, by those who are here, but don’t see it, or who ignore it].

But, this time [as many times], the words resonate in a special way.

Amira writes: Palestinians are heroes, braving Israeli dictatorship – “To live this way and remain sane – that’s heroism. ‘And who says we’re sane?’ Palestinians answer me. Well, here’s the proof: self-irony. The thugs of the hills are only the icing on the cake. Most of the work is being done by thugs wearing kid gloves… Latest update 01:41 21.12.11, here.

Amira Hass describes experience on Dignity

Speaking from Ramallah on a radio interview with the Democracy Now radio program, Amira Hass gave one of the few accounts publicly available about what happened during the Israeli Navy’s interception and commandeering of the yacht, Dignity, that was tring to sail to Gaza.

NOTE: Amira Hass usually refuses to give interviews.
UPDATE: Her own account has been published by Haaretz, in English, on Sunday 24 July here — in which she describes “discomfort as an act of political rebellion”. And, she wrote in her article, about “the contradiction of which everyone was aware: The means (a sea voyage to protest the siege of Gaza ) had turned into the end itself. The adventure had become the goal. And this boat would sail!” Countering the accusations of “lying”, made by the IDF chief spokesman himself, partly to justify the commandeering of the yacht, Amira Hass wrote in Haaretz that “The official destination was Alexandria. The idea was to refuel there and then to continue to Gaza. That plan was abandoned out of a desire not to become involved in the sensitive political entanglements in Egypt”…

Amira Hass’ interview was aired by Democracy Now on Thursday 21 July, a day after 15 of the others on board were apparently deported [including the jounalists???].  The transcript of her remarks is posted here.

She told Democracy Now:
Some 60 miles away from Gaza, we got the signal from an Israeli warship asking where we were heading to. One of the—one on board said, “To Gaza.” Then they said, “It’s illegal. It’s not allowed.”  The person—it’s Professor Vangelis Pissias, the Greek—tried to explain that this is a mission of peace and solidarity. There are no arms, no cargo, just wishing to reach Gaza.  And they were replied again by, “No, this is not legal, or not allowed.”  Immediately then, all communication was jammed.  We could not call anymore. We could not get calls anymore. The internet did not work.

And soon after, we saw four commando boats, very quick, very fast boats, approaching us. Masked men were aiming their rifles at us. They were, of course, in uniforms, IDF uniforms.  They were aiming all sorts of guns that I don’t even know how to name them. There were two cannon—two of them had—each of them had a cannon, a water cannon.  Then, three more were added to the four.  They distanced a bit, then returned.

At around 2:00, they approached, started to use the water cannon, and shouted something. One of on board, Dror Feiler, who is an Israeli, shouted back in Hebrew. Another activist, Claude Léostic of France, said, “This is—we are on the way to Gaza. This is international water. You have no right to impound us.”  And yet, they managed to enter on board.

It was not violent as the former flotillas or the boats that were in past years, when they attacked people physically.  But the very act, of course, is violent, the very act of—imagine 10 vessels, three warships and seven gunboats, attacking this small bucket.  We looked like a bucket rocking in the sea.  This was very violent.  But physically, we were spared what—the fate that was the one of the Mavi Marmara

Continue reading “Amira Hass describes experience on Dignity”

Why no progress in investigation of murder in Jenin of Juliano Mer-Khamis?

Amira Hass has written a new article reporting that Jenin Camp residents — and PA care not to antagonize some of them — are partly responsible for blocking the investigation in the assassination of Juliano Mer-Khamis in Jenin Refugee Camp two months ago. Her reportage, in Haaretz, is posted here.

But, she wrote, there appear to be other forces of inertia at work as well.

Hass wrote: “Of the four law enforcement agencies investigating the case – the Palestinian police, the Israel Police, the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service – none seems to be working particularly hard to solve it, says Abeer Baker, the attorney for the family”…

Continue reading “Why no progress in investigation of murder in Jenin of Juliano Mer-Khamis?”

Discussion in Jerusalem: We are now in a period of unknown change

There was a “book discussion” Thursday evening at the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem.

The book is almost unimportant, by comparison with the discussion.

In addition to the author [a young German], there were two panelists: Dr. Mahdi Abdel Hadi [PASSIA] and Amira Hass [journalist for Haaretz].

Abdel Hadi said, at the end of a description of four eras in Palestinian political life [we are now in the fourth, which is “change, led by the people”] that: “There is a madness in the changes occurring in Israel today, and there is fear among Palestinians… Anything can happen now, anything”.

Amira Hass was emotional, and strong. She spoke last, and said that what she missed in the discussion “is a small reminder that we are dealing with a subjugator people and a subjugated people. The word occupation is overused and worn out”.

She exclaimed — really exclaimed! — that “A people — us — have become expert in subjugation! We, of all the peoples in the world! The more I live here, and the more I see, the less I can write about this — there are so many sophisticated, sly, malicious details about this subjugation … What has been developed here for the past 63 years needs new vocabularies, if only for the simple fact that it’s us Jews, of all people, scheming in so many ways, so many incredible ways, to subjugate this indigenous people”.

She said: “I see [in the audience] many Westerners and diplomats in front of me, and I’m angry with you! What are you doing? Don’t you see this is going to a disaster? Why are you standing idle?

Continue reading “Discussion in Jerusalem: We are now in a period of unknown change”

Meanwhile, Gaza's agony sharpens and deepens – UPDATED

What is the worth, the value, of assigning blame here? It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t stop anything.

This weekend, Hamas went crazy, and Israel too.

There. Now, what?

It’s simply no longer possible to say who went crazy first, or who went crazy more. This discussion is sickening.

Israel attacked and killed people in Gaza on Friday. It announced on Sunday that one of the dead included a senior Hamas commander.

This is perhaps the explanation for why Hamas went crazy on Saturday morning — suddenly firing about 50 mortars into the Israeli perphery in about 15 minutes (is this possible?) — and taking responsibility for the act.

Then, it continued. There was more.

On Tuesday, the IDF announced that 7 rockets and mortars had been fired from Gaza into Israel that day — making a total of 60 projectiles fired from Gaza since the weekend, it said.

IDF attacks on Gaza — retaliation, prevention, whatever — killed some 10 Palestinians, including a number of what the IDF admitted were “uninvolved civilians”, mostly kids, and injured some 40 more. The IDF offered medical care to the wounded — a clear sign that something had gone badly wrong, and that Israel was recognizing some responsibility. And the IDF announced it was starting an investigation. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed regret, “but”…

Continue reading “Meanwhile, Gaza's agony sharpens and deepens – UPDATED”