List of Palestinians in Israeli jails whose Administrative Detention orders have been renewed

Amnesty International has today released a new report, entitled “Starving for Justice: Palestinians Detained Without Trial by Israel”. In a press release accompanying the report, Amnesty International says that: “We believe that Israel has renewed at least 30 Administrative Detention orders + issued at least 3 new ones since this [May 15] deal was struck” — this refers to the agreement between a committee of 9 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and the Israeli Prison Service.

Amnesty says that “Despite many media reports suggesting that Israeli authorities had agreed as part of the deal to release Admin Detainees…at end of their current orders ‘unless significant new information was received’, it’s business as usual…”

Below is a list, from this Amnesty Report, of those 30 renewals of Administrative Detention and the 3 new ones.

The Amnesty International report notes that “Israel has used its system of Administrative Detention … to trample on the human rights of detainees for decades”.

Significantly, this Amnesty International report seems to say that those Administrative Detainees who have been jailed for their political beliefs — and this would presumably include being a member of organizations banned by Israel such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad — are Prisoners of Conscience.

This is a significant category of people whose human and political rights have been violated, for whom Amnesty International mounts world-wide awareness and support campaigns.

Some Prisoners of Conscience could also fall into the category of Human Rights Defenders — a group of people the UN Human Rights Council is bound to defend.

In this report, Amnesty International “calls on Israel to stop using these measures {Admin Detention] to suppress the legitimate + peaceful activities of activists.”

Within hours, the Palestinian Authority’s [PA’s] Government Media Center, headed by Ghassan Khatib [a former PA Minister of Labor and then of Planning, who long headed the Jerusalem Media = Communications Center] issued a statement saying that “we welcome this clear statement that Israel uses detention without trial to prevent Palestinians exercising their right to peaceful protest against the illegal occupation of Palestinian land”.

“Peaceful protest against the illegal occupation of Palestinian land” is a tactic and policy formally adopted by the PA Government headed by Salam Fayyad — and it is also endorsed by Palestinian President and head of Fateh, Mahmoud Abbas, himself, though there is precious little, really minimal, official backing of such protest.

However, that is not the only reason Israel uses “detention without trial”, terminology also used by Amnesty International at least once in this new report on Administrative Detention.

Israel seems to be using Administrative Detention primarily against those Palestinians accused of membership in organizations that Israel not only has declared “illegal” but also “terrorist” — particularly Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Khatib himself scrupulously avoids using the words “Administrative Detention”… why?

The PA’s Government Media Center statement notes that “Dr. Khatib stressed that the abuse of prisoners is even worse than this report, as it does not address in detail all the violations of Palestinian prisoners that are contrary to international conventions and laws on the protection of the rights of prisoners of war”.

As the Palestinian government always does [while it does very little, saying its hands are tied etc.], it again here calls on the international community to act, and “calls on the international community to take action to end – and not merely condemn – the torture, detention without trial and other abuses highlighted by the Amnesty International report ‘Starved of justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel‘.”

In remarks attributed directly to Ghassan Khatib, the Government Media Center statement says: “This important report exposes human rights abuses practiced by Israel against Palestinian prisoners, and requires immediate and practical steps to implement its recommendations, the most important of which is to release prisoners immediately or given them a fair trial. Amnesty has made clear to the world how Israel breaks international law and breaks agreements with impunity. As this report states, Israel is already breaking the agreement it made to end the recent hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners … The torture of Palestinian prisoners should cause outrage even among those who support Israel. Israel can continue these shameful practices only as long as it feels safe from any serious international action to call it to account. This impunity must end.”

Here is the list, from the Amnesty International report, published here of those persons known to Amnesty International whose Administrative Detention has been extended, as well as 3 who are jailed under Administrative Detention orders for the first time:


    Amnesty International has received the names of 30 Palestinian administrative detainees whose detention orders have been renewed and three who had been issued with new orders since the deal ending the mass hunger strike was signed on 14 May.

    New orders:
    1.) Sameeh Eleiwi
    2.) ‘Ala Fahmi Za’qeeq
    3.) Mohammed Saeed Ali Ba’aran

    Renewed orders:
    1.) Mohammed Maher Bader (PLC member)
    2.) Abdel Rahman Zidan (PLC member)
    3.) Ahmed al-Haj Ali (PLC member)
    4.) Mohammed Jamal Natsha (PLC member)
    5.) Nayef Mohammed al-Rajoob (PLC member)
    6.) Khalid Tafish (PLC member)
    7.) Hasan Youssef (PLC member)
    8.) Samir Qadi (PLC member)
    9,) Mohammed Ghazal (university lecturer)
    10.) Hussam Mohsen al-Raza
    11.) Samer al-Barq
    12.) Mohammed Karam al-Qadi
    13.) Rashad Ahmad Abd al-Rahman
    14.) Falah Taher Nada
    15.) Aziz Haroon Kayed
    16.) Shafiq Qawasmi
    17.) Khalil Abu Matar
    18.) Ahmad Assida
    19.) Mohamed Ali Abu al-Rob
    20.) Salah Nada
    21.) Hassan Shtayyeh
    23.) Sajed Militaat
    24.) Rida Khaled
    25.) Hussam Harb
    26.) Abdel Basset al-Hajj
    27.) Yassir Badrasawi
    28.) Farouq Tawfiq Musa
    29.) Hussam Khader [n.b., Hussam Khader of Fateh was elected to PLC in 1999, but jailed during 2006 elections so he could not present his candidacy]
    30.) Hussein Abu Kweik
    31.) Tareq al-Sheikh

Mordechai Vanunu apparently placed in isolation

Amnesty International reported today that “Israeli nuclear whistleblower” Mordechai Vanunu has now “been placed in an isolated cell, ostensibly to protect him from other prisoners”.

Vanunu, who served 18 years in Israeli jail for giving for publication photos he took while working at Israel’s Dimona Nuclear Reactor facility, was recently returned to jail on a three-month sentence for refusing to carry out community service in a Jewish area of Jerusalem — a penalty imposed on him for violating conditions imposed when he was released from jail in April 2004 (including a ban on talking to “foreigners”, or approaching embassies or consulates).

Apparently, Vanunu’s isolated cell is in a “dangerous criminals section”. He is being held in Ayalon Prison in central Israel.

Continue reading Mordechai Vanunu apparently placed in isolation

Amnesty: Journalists get hit by all sides in Israel + Palestine

The director of Amnesty International’s program for the Middle East and North Africa, Malcolm Smart, has issued (on 12 March) a statement expressing concern about the “continuing curbs on media freedom and harassment of journalists working in Gaza and the West Bank”

The statement notes that “Amnesty International has called on the Palestinian and Israeli authorities to release all journalists who are being detained for carrying out their legitimate professional activities, amid continuing harassment of media workers in the region”.

Continue reading Amnesty: Journalists get hit by all sides in Israel + Palestine

New revelations continue to emerge about IDF "flexible" rules of engagement in last Gaza war

Somehow, the Jerusalem correspondent of the British newspaperThe Independent, Donald Macintyre, got ahold of an unpublished article written after what was clearly very extensive work by an Israeli journalist for Israel’s largest-circulation Hebrew-language newspaper (Yediot Ahronot).

Somehow — despite the immense pressure being exerted on Israeli soldiers not to talk about their experiences in Gaza a year ago — the (unnamed) Israeli journalist who wrote the article got access to — and gained the confidence of — some Israeli military officers who served in key positions during the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009.

These sources have given some sensational testimony — still unpublished in the Israeli newspaper, but revealed publicly for the first time today in The Independent.

One of the soldiers is reported to have said that ” ‘any movement must entail gunfire. No one’s supposed to be there’. He added that at a meeting with his brigade commander and others it was made clear that ‘if you see any signs of movement at all you shoot. This is essentially the rules of engagement’.” Another soldier in the war-room reportedly explained that: “This doesn’t mean that you need to disrespect the lives of Palestinians but our first priority is the lives of our soldiers. That’s not something you’re going to compromise on. In all my years in the military, I never heard that”. According to The Independent, this same soldier “added that the majority of casualties were caused in his brigade area by aerial firing, including from unmanned drones. ‘Most of the guys taken down were taken down by order of headquarters. The number of enemy killed by HQ-operated remote … compared to enemy killed by soldiers on the ground had absolutely inverted’.”

Continue reading New revelations continue to emerge about IDF "flexible" rules of engagement in last Gaza war

Gaza: One year after Israel + Hamas enter separate unilateral cease-fires

One year after two separate cease-fires (Israel’s, and Hamas’) ended 22 terrible days of an IDF military operation supposedly directed against Hamas, where are things? How is the situation?

Worse than ever.

Continue reading Gaza: One year after Israel + Hamas enter separate unilateral cease-fires

News you won't see on Palestinian Television

This news was not reported on Palestinian Television today.

(On the 9pm Palestinian Television news, there was a brief video clip, without much detail, of Israeli forces in jeeps in Ramallah, but no mention of the detention of the international activist, or her imminent deportation …)

This news was received by an email entitled: “Israel stages night-time Ramallah raid to arrest an international solidarity activist“. According to the email, “The raid was conducted to apprehend Eva Nováková, a Czech citizen, who has been the International Solidarity Movement’s media coordinator for the past few weeks … Israeli soldiers raided the Ramallah home of Eva Nováková tonight at 3 am near the Manara square. [n.b. One of the things about this is that there are always, but always, Palestinian security forces stationed around Manara square… except possibly during an Israeli raid…]
Continue reading News you won't see on Palestinian Television

UNSG BAN says he will send the Goldstone report to Security Council ASAP

The AP’s indefatigable Edith Lederer has reported that “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday he will send a report calling for Israel and the Palestinians to investigate alleged war crimes during last winter’s conflict in Gaza to the UN Security Council ‘as soon as possible’.”

She added that “The 15 council members have already received copies of the 575-page report by an expert panel chaired by South African Judge Richard Goldstone. But the General Assembly in a resolution adopted Thursday asks the secretary-general to transmit it, which will make the report an official Security Council document … The Security Council, however, is highly unlikely to take any action. The United States has repeatedly said the report belongs in the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, which appointed the Goldstone panel. Diplomats said Russia and China also don’t want the Security Council dealing with human rights issues. All three countries have veto power in the Security Council. [n.b. France, which also has the veto power, has also indicated that it would oppose any UNSC action on the Goldstone report…] The International Criminal Court can only investigate crimes on the territory of nations that recognize its jurisdiction, unless a case is referred to it by the Security Council. The Palestinian Authority recognized the court in January and urged prosecutors to launch an investigation into crimes committed during the Gaza conflict, but prosecutors are investigating whether this is possible since there is no state of Palestine”. This AP report was picked up and published by The Independent, here.

Amnesty International issued a statement after the vote in the UN General Assembly saying that the body’s adoption of “key recommendations of the Goldstone report on the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel earlier this year is vitally important for ensuring that those, on both sides, who committed war crimes and other violations of international law will now be held to account … Almost one year on, those who suffered war crimes and other gross violations of their rights, are still waiting for justice … [And] “It is our fervent hope that today’s UN General Assembly resolution will act as a catalyst to make justice and reparation a reality for the victims on both sides”.

In the statement, Yvonne Terlingen, Head of Amnesty International’s Office at the UN, said: “We deeply regret that the USA and the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia voted against the resolution and failed to support the need for accountability, justice and human rights that are so vital for victims of abuses in this conflict … We urge the UN Secretary-General to now appoint independent experts in human rights and international humanitarian law to assess whether any investigations that are conducted by Israel and Hamas meet the required international standard”.

[UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post, in an article published after this posting, wrote that “44 abstained, including most of the EU countries that had sought unsuccessfully to soften the resolution’s language prior to the vote. Switzerland was the only European country to endorse the report. Russia, which does not often side with Israel in these matters, abstained … Following the Goldstone vote, which US Ambassador Susan Rice did not attend, the US mission circulated an ‘explanation of vote’ by Deputy Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff, who voted in Rice’s place. ‘As the United States made clear in Geneva, we believe that the Goldstone Report is deeply flawed’, Wolff said, citing an unbalanced focus on Israel, sweeping legal conclusions and overreaching recommendations, and a failure to adequately assign responsibility to Hamas for basing its operations in civilian-populated areas. He stressed that the matter should be handled at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva alone, saying discussion in the Security Council would be ‘unconstructive’. Stating that the US ‘strongly supports accountability’ for human rights and humanitarian law violations, Wolff said the best way to end human suffering is to bring comprehensive peace to the region, including a two-state solution. ‘As we urge the parties to restart permanent-status negotiations leading to the creation of a Palestinian state, we should all be seeking to advance the cause of peace – and doing nothing to hinder it’, he said“.  This JPOST article is published here.]

The Amnesty International statement noted that UNSG BAN has been asked to submit what it called a “progress report”  to the UN General Assembly in three months’ time.

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva still has on its books the first resolution it adopted on the Goldstone report, in early October, calling for review of the situation in March 2010.

Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a measure by an overwhelming vote (344-to-36) calling the Goldstone report “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy”, and calling on the Obama Administration to “strongly and unequivocally oppose” any discussion of it at the UN.

A post by Matthew Rothschild on The Progressive website said that “Dennis Kucinich had it right when he denounced the House majority for going along with this. His statement is so powerful that I’m excerpting it at length here: ‘Today we journey from Operation Cast Lead to Operation Cast Doubt … Almost as serious as committing war crimes is covering up war crimes, pretending that war crimes were never committed and did not exist. Because behind every such deception is the nullification of humanity, the destruction of human dignity, the annihilation of the human spirit, the triumph of Orwellian thinking, the eternal prison of the dark heart of the totalitarian. The resolution before us today, which would reject all attempts of the Goldstone Report to fix responsibility of all parties to war crimes, including both Hamas and Israel, may as well be called the ‘Down is Up, Night is Day, Wrong is Right: resolution.’ . . . How can we ever expect there to be peace in the Middle East if we tacitly approve of violations of international law and international human rights, if we look the other way, or if we close our eyes to the heartbreak of people on both sides by white-washing a legitimate investigation? How can we protect the people of Israel from existential threats if we hold no concern for the protection of the Palestinians, for their physical security, their right to land, their right to their own homes, their right to water, their right to sustenance, their right to freedom of movement, their right to human security of jobs, education and health care? … all people on this planet have a right to survive and thrive, and it is our responsibility, our duty to see that no individual, no group, no people are barred from this humble human claim”.  This posting can be read in full here.

Dennis Kucinich is a Democratic Congressman from Ohio who was re-elected a year ago to a seventh term in the U.S, House of Representatives.  The full text of his statement on this House resolution, Entiltled “Truth, Human Dignity, and the Goldstone Report”, can be seen on his website, here

On the third day of the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Kucinich was sending a letter to UNSG BAN Ki-Moon “urging the United Nations to establish an independent inquiry of Israel’s war against Gaza. The attacks on civilians represent collective punishment, which is a violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention ( The perpetrators of attacks against Israel must also be brought to justice, but Israel cannot create a war against an entire people in order to attempt to bring to justice the few who are responsible. The Israeli leaders know better. The world community, which has been very supportive of Israel’s right to security and its right to survive, also has a right to expect Israel to conduct itself in adherence to the very laws which support the survival of Israel and every other nation … Israel is leveling Gaza to strike at Hamas, just as they pulverized south Lebanon to strike at Hezbollah. Yet in both cases civilian populations were attacked, countless innocents killed or injured, infrastructure targeted and destroyed, and civil law enforcement negated. All this was, and is, disproportionate, indiscriminate mass violence in violation of international law. Israel is not exempt from international law and must be held accountable. It is time for the UN to not just call for a cease-fire, but for an inquiry as to Israel’s actions.”  This letter can be viewed in full here.

And on the very same day that Kucinich wrote his letter, former UN Under-Secretary-General, and novelist, Shashi Tharoor was penning an article saying that Indians envied Israel’s ability to operate as it pleased [see our posts, here and here – Tharoor’s article was posted on the Huffington Post with the title (he wrote it) “India longs to follow Israeli path of reprisal] .

Shashi Tharoor wrote his article on 29 December — and did not bother to correct it even before it was published in the Huffington Post on 19 January, one day after two unilateral cease-fires (Israel’s and Hamas’) went into effect in Gaza.

Then, after reaction to that piece, Tharoor wrote again something he called “Apologia”, which was published in the Huffington Post on 27 January — a somewhat dizzy retraction in which he wrote: “Many of you have read my article as endorsing Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and deplored the article’s apparent indifference to the humanitarian tragedy that followed.  I regret the misunderstanding of the intent and thrust of the piece, which was not written as a commentary on the conflict in Gaza.  [!]  When I wrote the article I was thinking only about india/pakistan – the assault on Gaza had just begun when I put my fingers to the keyboard … Obviously I had no sense at the time of writing of the scale of the israeli action that was to follow and the toll that would be taken in civilian lives.  But in any case the article says India cannot, should not and would not do what Israel has done … Using the Israel parallel – at a time when my email inbox was brimming with messages of the ‘why can’t we do the same as Israel?’ variety – was just a way of bringing greater attention onto India’s dilemma and its anguish, while arguing that there is no ‘Gaza option’ for India.  Of course I should have realized that using an unfolding event as a peg would make my argument hostage to the way that situation evolved. Inevitably, some readers would judge the article in the light of what has happened in the two weeks after I wrote it. Had Israel taken out a few rocket sites and withdrawn in 3 or 4 days, as I had expected, perhaps the analogy would have seemed less offensive” …

Despite his inability to recognize or correctly assess, by 29 December, what was happening in Gaza, Shashi Tharoor — having won election this past spring to India’s parliament as a representative of the Congress Party in Kerala State — has since become India’s Foreign Minister, in yet another triumph of style over substance…

UPDATE:  Yaakov Katz has written on Sunday in the Jerusalem Post that “Amid Israeli efforts to bolster military ties and export military hardware, the Indian Chief of Staff Gen. Deepak Kapoor arrived in Israel on Saturday for talks with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi … Israel and India enjoy close defense ties and Israel last year overtook Russia as the number-one supplier of military platforms to India after breaking the $1 billion mark in new contracts signed annually.  According to press reports, India is interested in working with Israel on submarine-launched cruise missiles, ballistic missile defense systems, laser-guided systems, satellites as well as unmanned aerial vehicles.  The visit to Israel comes just before the first anniversary of the attacks last November in Mumbai against a hotel as well as a Chabad House, during which over 170 people were killed, including the Chabad emissary to Mumbai and his pregnant wife.  Since the attack, Israel has assisted India in beefing up its security, particularly along its coast, where the terrorists allegedly infiltrated from nearby Pakistan.  Last Tuesday, Kapoor was quoted [by news sites] as saying that … ‘We have to take all steps to prevent any Mumbai-type attacks. We cannot rule out apprehensions of such possibilities … India cannot afford to witness a repeat of 26/11″ …  Yaakov Katz’s report in the JPost can be viewed in full here.


Here is the result of the voting in the UN General Assembly
In favour of the resolution on the Goldstone report: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Poland, Slovakia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United States.

Abstain: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Tonga, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay.

Absent: Bhutan, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Togo, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

Leonard Cohen in Ramallah?

Leonard Cohen might not be Michael Jackson, but he has a devoted, even passionate, following in various parts of the world.   Israel is one of those places.

The occupied Palestinian territory is not.

Yet, an announcement has been made that Leonard Cohen will perform in Ramallah in late September — a day after he performs on 24 September in Israel’s Ramat Gan stadium near Tel Aviv, with a seating capacity of 50,000.

Leonard Cohen’s appearance in Ramallah was, in fact, added as an afterthought, in response to the boycott calls for him to avoid performing in Israel.

Instead of cancelling the Israeli show, it was apparently thought that adding a Palestinian one might add some “balance”. But, it might be too late for that.  The situation is too polarized.

Now, both performances — part of Leonard Cohen’s multi-city and nearly year-long World Tour 09, with more mileage and events than Michael Jackson’s 50-concert revival in London — are in question, due to a small but growing international campaign to boycott Israel.

For Palestinians, it would be better if Leonard Cohen didn’t perform in Israel at all, and would only come to Ramallah (or Gaza).  But that’s more on the level of political symbolism, because Leonard Cohen is not at all well known among Palestinians.

Consideration was given to hosting the Leonard Cohen Palestinian concert in the 9,000-seat Feisal Husseini football stadium (upgraded to international standards with EU funding) in ar-Ram, right next to a particularly in-your-face section of The Wall which runs right down the middle of what used to be the main street between Jerusalem and Ramallah.  But, it was apparently then decided that it would be better to have the concert in Ramallah’s Cultural Palace (built with Japanese funding), a smaller and enclosed venue, right next to the hilltop where Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish is buried (and where he gave his final performance on 1 July 2008).

After initial planning, a Palestinian opposition emerged, with objections to hosting Leonard Cohen in Ramallah (that is, if he still intends to perform in Israel).  Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza earlier this year has only intensified the moral outrage on the Palestinian side.

The search for a solution has been put in the hands of Qaddura Fares, one of a group identified as “Young” Fatah leaders, and head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, “If there were peace”, there would be no problem, Fares indicated in an interview in his Ramallah office last week —  but, he said, “there is no atmosphere for peace” right now.

Qaddura Fares said that his suggestion was that Leonard Cohen should come if he would agree to sing for the release of Palestinian prisoners (there are over 11,000 of them, including several hundred children) — and for the release of the Israeli soldier who is believed to be still held captive somewhere in Gaza, Corporal Gilad Shalit.  “Yes, why not?”, Qaddura Fares said, and smiled.  “All of them are prisoners, and they have the right to be free”.

He indicated that Leonard Cohen’s agents/promoters have “accepted the idea”.  There is also a proposal, he said, that Amnesty International should somehow be involved. There are still a lot of problems, Qaddura Fares noted.  “A lot of intellectuals and artists have refused to come to Israel because of the boycott call.  And so, for the Boycott Forum, we would be making an obstacle for their progress if Leonard Cohen comes to Tel Aviv and Ramallah”.

He said that “if Leonard Cohen comes “just for summer, and for love, maybe it would be a mistake.  But, Israel has been dealing with out prisoners as if they were killers and terrorists, and if Leonard Cohen comes to sing for their release, then maybe it will recognize that they are freedom fighters.  Maybe if he comes for such a sensitive issue, it will be useful for Palestinians and for Israelis”.

Qaddura Fares noted that a group of Palestinian intellectuals asked to meet him to discuss the issue, and he agreed.  “They tried to convince me it’s a mistake to bring Leonard Cohen.  They promised they would bring famous singers who would visit only Palestine and not Israel”. Why hadn’t these Palestinian intellectuals brought these singers before?  Qaddura Fares replied that he had asked them the same question.  He recounted that he told them: “Every Monday I go to the Red Cross and sit with the mothers and wives of the prisoners — between 20 and 50 women come every week.  But never did I see these intellectuals there.  And, I said to them, “What’s the problem if we invite Leonard Cohen.  We can continue our discussion”.

But, Qaddoura Fares said, he would leave the decision up to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club — and that he wanted “a collective decision”, meaning near unanimity, or at least no opposition.  Then, he said, “I can organize Fatah and other groups to support the invitation”.

The decision is imminent, Qaddoura Fares said.

Continue reading Leonard Cohen in Ramallah?

IDF now says that criminal investigation has been ordered on Gaza war

The Israeli Defense Forces Spokespersons Unit (Spox) yesterday modified its tone in response to Amnesty International’s just-published comprehensive report on the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead, which we reported on yesterday here.

After a long list of criticisms and and justifications (which have all been previously reported here and elsewhere), the IDF statement then concludes with these remarks saying that the IDF is currently looking into the complaints made by Amnesty International and others about “the way in which the IDF operated during Operation Cast Lead” — and it very discretely reports even that one or more criminal investigations have been ordered opened:

“Out of a professional, ethical and judicial obligation to thoroughly inspect certain claims made regarding Operation Cast Lead, the IDF conducted a number of investigations following the operation. The investigations proved that the IDF operated throughout the fighting in accordance with international law, maintaining high ethical and professional standards and in many incidents, for the sake of avoiding harm to unassociated civilians, even limited itself beyond existing judicial obligations.

Nonetheless, the investigations found a few, unfortunate incidents that are unavoidable during combat – especially the type of combat Hamas forced upon the IDF during Operation Cast Lead, when it chose to fight from within civilian population centers. In addition to the investigations ordered by the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the IDF is currently looking into complaints that were received from various sources – private lawyers, human rights organizations (including Amnesty) and media outlets (both domestic and international) – that raise different questions regarding the way in which the IDF operated during Operation Cast Lead. In certain cases, the Chief Military Advocate has already ordered the opening of a criminal investigation“.

The IDF blinked?

Finally, and at last, the defiant facade is softening.

In any case, this is a very positive development.

Maybe it will help ensure that the unfair and utter insensitive cruelty that was evident in the Gaza conflict will never happen again. Never again.

Amnesty International: Palestinian are worn down by decades of occupation and now torn apart by factional strife

Amnesty International has just published a report saying that Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza are “Torn Apart By Factional Strife”.

Both sides – Fatah and Hamas – have shown “a flagrant disregard for the human rights of a civilian population already worn down by decades of Israeli occupation, military campaigns and blockades”, Amnesty International reported.

The international human rights advocacy organization added that one of the consequences has been “a sharp deterioration in the humanitarian situation of the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip”.

The full report is published here.