Why was the victim trying to cross The Wall?

This photo, published on YNet this afternoon, shows the widow and children left behind:
Qawezba's family - AFP photo published on YNet

Izz al-Din Qawezba [Qawazbeh], 35, of Hebron, a father of five, was killed by an Israeli Border Policeman early on Sunday morning not far from French Hill, or Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus area, after he had scaled The Wall in the Jerusalem area and was trying to make a run for it, to get to work inside Israel. He had a family to support.

In a preliminary investigation, the Border Policeman said the shooting had been “accidental”.

Israel rounds up thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank each year found working or trying to seek work in Israel.

The West Bank is under Israeli military occupation — and this puts a responsibility on Israel for the well-being of the Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank. [The Palestinian Authority, set up by agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, has only limited authority in only part of the West Bank. It is dependent on donor funding and on revenue for customs taxes collected and dispersed by Israel.]

About 20,000 West Bank Palestinians have permits to work inside Israel. An estimated 20,000 more are working inside Israeli Jewish settlements inside the West Bank, though the Palestinian Authority has declared that this must stop. An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 more Palestinians are working without permits — and their wages are lower than those who have permits. Israeli employers who hire Palestinians without permits are also liable for fines, but many do so because of the lower wage they can pay.

Continue reading Why was the victim trying to cross The Wall?

Foreign Press Assn in Israel: in West Bank, Israeli forces now attack journalists first, then activists

The Foreign Press Association in Israel has issued a strong protest over attacks by Israeli forces on journalists covering events in the West Bank.

The statement said that journalists have been “harassed, arrested and attacked by the various on site forces before these forces turn their attention to the activists or demonstrators”.

The professional organization of journalists based in Israel said, in their statement that “The FPA strongly protests what appears to be a recent policy change by the Border Police and IDF with regard to legitimate news coverage in the West Bank. Over the past months journalists covering these events have been harassed, arrested and attacked by the various on site forces before these forces turn their attention to the activists or demonstrators. We would appreciate it were the authorities to remind the various forces involved, that open, unhindered coverage of news events is a widely acknowledged part of the essence of democracy. Generally speaking this would not include smashing the face of a clearly marked photographer working for a known and accredited news organization with a stick, or for that matter aiming a stun grenade at the head of a clearly marked news photographer or summarily arresting cameramen, photographers and/or journalists – www.fpa.org.il “.

A stunning admission (in Hebrew)

A stunning admission was published overnight on Richard Silverstein’s Tikun Olam blog, here: the Israeli Border Police person [apparently male] who finished off an already-wounded Ziad Julani in the Wadi Joz neighborhood of downtown East Jerusalem on 11 June, has reportedly admitted firing at “point blank range”.

Why? Because, the Border Police person said, because he believed Ziad was a “terrorist”.

This has been, for years, the excuse and justification for almost everything here. Until now, it is almost impossible to refute.

The Israeli general public, the media, and the country’s Supreme Court all fall into line “and salute”.

Apparently, this is so far published only on the Hebrew-language website of Haaretz — and not yet presented to the somewhat more sceptical English-language audience.

Silverstein reports, on his Tikun Olam posting, that “The Justice Ministry has begun an internal investigation and Jilani’s body has been exhumed and an autopsy will be done [n.b. – the autopsy is apparently complete, but results are not yet reported]. As part of the investigation, the murder scene and entire incident were reconstructed. During this event, the shooter admitted, according to Haaretz’s report (Hebrew), that he shot Jilani at point-blank range. He claimed, however, that he believed Jilani was a terrorist and killed him because he feared he was wearing a suicide vest. Further, he claimed he fired to protect the lives of innocent bystanders”.

Continue reading A stunning admission (in Hebrew)

Hagit Ofran in Silwan: "This time it sounded serious"

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now is one of the Israeli experts on the settlements her compatriots are building in the West Bank [including East Jerusalem].

Hearing from Silwan on Sunday evening about the escalating clashes there, she went to see what was happening, and then posted her account, complete with photos and a video, on her blog, Eyes on the Ground in East Jerusalem.

For anyone who thinks these are just minor incidents, the title of her post, Battlefield, gives a good idea of what happened in a crowded, run-down Palestinian area of East Jerusalem where Israeli Border Police are the only available authority — and they are hostile. They are on the side of the settlers.

Hagit observed, in this post, that “Most of my neighbors in West Jerusalem heard nothing of this and don’t even know that 5 minutes drive from us, in East Jerusalem, there are Palestinian neighborhoods with tens of thousands of residents, including the neighborhood of Silwan which in the last months has been at the center of clashes between settlers, police and residents … Silwan and East Jerusalem in general, are far from the hearts and minds of the Israeli media and public attention. Police feel they are in the Wild West and that nobody will do anything to them”.

In her post, Hagit reported that: “Almost every evening over the last weeks there have been clashes in Silwan between police, guards and residents. This time it sounded serious. M. reported on injured and ambulances that were delayed. I decided to go see close up. … When I got there the situation was heated: a force of Border Police, armed and shielded from head to toe, were running through the narrow alleys of the neighborhood and being pelted by a shower of stones. They were shouting, firing tear gas, firing shock grenades and occasionally also live fire.

“How did it all begin? According to the residents’ testimony, this time again it was a group of guards from a private security company who guard the settlers at Beit Yehonatan [n.b., the seven-structure house built without pemits by a settlement organization in this Palestinian but now hotly-contested neighborhood of East Jerusalem], who were walking around the streets provocatively. According to some of the testimonies the guards spat at Palestinian children, and according to others, the children were the ones to start cursing the guards. One way or another friction was created, followed by a confrontation, during which stones were thrown at the guards, who did not hesitate and fired in the air (see for example how they acted two weeks ago).

“Then came Border Police forces. They accompanied the guards into the home of the Abu Nab family, who are in the middle of a legal procedure against settlers over ownership of the house. Lately MK Uri Ariel of the right announced the settlers’ intention to forcefully enter the house soon. According to residents’ testimony, the guards, with the police, broke the house’s shutters and the window and threw a tear gas grenade into the house“…

“Tear gas is a strong substance. It causes anyone near it suffocation and severe burning of the eyes. If you throw it into a house – it is a real danger. The members of the family were at home at the time, including small children and women, who were evacuated from the house coughing and frightened.

“At first I didn’t believe that the police really threw tear gas into a house. The tear gas must have been in the street and entered through the open window, I thought to myself. But when I got to the house at midnight, three hours after the gas was thrown, there was still a smell of gas in the air, and when I stood in the kitchen for a minute I began coughing and suffocating from the remnants of gas that were still hanging in the air.

“In light of the settlers’ threats of their intention to evacuate the family from the home, everybody was sure it was an infiltration [sic – maybe she means incitement, a ruse to effect eviction?] by settlers: the family goes out of the house because of the gas, and the guards and police who already entered the house take over it…

“The residents were quick to respond, stones were thrown at the police and the guards, and police responded by firing gas, shock grenades and sometimes also live fire.

“Eventually the Abu Nab family returned home…

“East Jerusalem is so tense right now. Every small thing is perceived as a provocation. On a week when the mayor announced the intention to demolish homes in Silwan for a biblical park, with rumors about the beginning of construction at the Shepherd Hotel continuing to circulate and when the settlers threaten to forcefully enter another house in the middle of the Palestinian neighborhood in Silwan, things seem to be on the brink of explosion.

“And another thing: this time, just like yesterday, the Border Police took advantage of the situation to vandalize the neighborhood. A police jeep forcefully crashed into Palestinian cars parked on the street, and according to residents’ testimony, the police broke car windows with rifle butts“…

Hagit Ofran’s post can be viewed in full here.

Palestinian TV news did not report shooting at Qalandia checkpoint

Palestinian TV news has shot up in the ratings, I am told, over the past few months — and Al-Jazeera has dropped.

Previously, Palestinians were getting their local news from Al-Jazeera. Could Al-Jazeera really give enough local coverage to satisfy the Palestinians here, I used to ask? It is all there is, I was told, in my own random samplings of the viewing audience in East Jerusalem and around the West Bank.

Now, Palestinian TV has been making an effort to improve its news coverage, and these efforts have been recognized and appreciated.

Still, despite this vote of confidence, tonight’s Palestinian TV news had no mention of a shocking and serious incident at Qalandia checkpoint late this afternoon or early this evening: an Israeli (Arab) truck driver taking a full fuel tank across the checkpoint to make a delivery to a point just after the checkpoint (perhaps to an area which is still part of the Greater Jerusalem municipality, despite being behind The Wall) was somehow panicked or distracted or injured, apparently by rock-throwing, and lost control of his vehicle. He reportedly ran into other vehicles at the checkpoint — which is frequently a clogged and intensely stressful traffic nightmare — and where there is NO traffic control.

The immediate Israeli assumption is always, but always, that things like this are “terror” attacks.

Israeli soldiers or Border Police thought that the truck driver was making an intentional attack on the checkpoint, and they shot. The driver was badly injured, and evacuated to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital all the way across Jerusalem, west of Bethlehem. There were reportedly other injuries as well — either by the shooting, or by the vehicle crashing, or both.

There were at least a couple of hours for Palestinian TV to try to get any footage that might be available, or to send a reporter and a camera crew to the scene to do a live report — or even to see if they could get anything from the hospital, or from Israeli TV or other Arab TV networks working in Jerusalem, or from other journalistic sources.

Continue reading Palestinian TV news did not report shooting at Qalandia checkpoint

JPost confirms undercover border police pretended to be Palestinian demonstrators last Friday

The Jerusalem Post’s well-connected defense correspondent Yaakov Katz has confirmed in an article published today that “The IDF has started using undercover elite border policemen to quell anti-fence demonstrations in the West Bank, sources in the Central Command said on Tuesday. Last Friday, officers from the Border Police’s elite YAMAS undercover unit disguised themselves as Palestinians and stood among a crowd of demonstrators from Nil’in … Sources in the Central Command confirmed on Tuesday that undercover YAMAS border policemen were used to help suppress the demonstrators at Nil’in as part of the IDF’s increasing efforts to prevent clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and security forces. On Friday, the IDF also used its ‘skunk bomb’ – a foul-smelling liquid that is sprayed on protesters, causing them to flee due to the intense odor” [n.b. I think this was at Bil’in]. This post can be read in full here.

We reported on this shocking development earlier here.

We first saw this video posted on the mondoweiss blog, here.

Dr. Salim Tamari, sociologist in Ramallah, asked why I was surprised — he said that while this may be new in the Nil’il-Bil’in demonstrations, it is nevertheless a well-known phenomenon called “mua3rrabah” — infiltrating Arabic-speaking Israeli forces into Palestinian areas — which happens routinely in the West Bank, he said.

But, I wondered, since this is a well-known phenomena, or perhaps more accurately a “classic” tactic now being revived, why aren’t Palestinian demonstrators more concerned about verifying the identities of those who show up at their demonstrations?

Machsom Watch: "We tell only about things we have personally seen"

Yesterday, in our post on Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s remarks at a literary festival in London, it was reported that he praised the ladies of Machsom Watch.

By chance, I found a video posted on Youtube, made by Journeyman Pictures in June 2008, that gives one of the best representations I’ve seen of the oppressive humiliation of Palestinians at checkpoints, and of the arrogant and irresponsible behavior of some members of the Israeli Border Police and Defense Forces in the West Bank. It also does a very good job of portraying the motivation, views and work of the members of Machsom Watch (some of them I have had the pleasure of meeting and seeingn at work on the spot in the West Bank).

This vidoe is entitled “Mother Courage”[maybe not the best title] , and while its embedding function has been disabled upon request, it can be viewed in full here.

Continue reading Machsom Watch: "We tell only about things we have personally seen"

Why are these soldiers laughing? "One can learn a great deal about a country from the way it treats its human rights and pro-democracy activists"

Neve Gordon wrote in a piece published on Wednesday 6 May in The Guardian’s Comment is Free section that “one can learn a great deal about a country from the way it treats its human rights and pro-democracy activists”.


Neve Gordon’s article is about Israeli human rights activist Ezra Nawi, who is a member of Ta’ayush Arab-Jewish Partnership — a sort of Israeli Rachel Corrie (the American who was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer while trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza in 2003.

Except, fortunately, Ezra Nawi was not crushed — though he was arrested, Neve Gordon wrote, while he was “trying to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins from Um El Hir in the South Hebron region”…

As Neve Gordon explains, “These Palestinians have been under Israeli occupation for almost 42 years; they still live without electricity, running water and other basic services and are continuously harassed by Jewish settlers and the military – two groups that have united to expropriate Palestinian land and that clearly have received the government’s blessing to do so. As chance would have it, the demolition and the resistance to it were captured on film and broadcast on Israel’s Channel 1. The three-minute film (above) – a must see – shows Nawi, the man dressed in a green jacket, not only courageously protesting against the demolition but, after the bulldozer destroys the buildings, also telling the border policemen what he thinks of their actions. Sitting handcuffed in a military vehicle following his arrest, he exclaims: ‘Yes, I was also a soldier, but I did not demolish houses … The only thing that will be left here is hatred’. The film then shows the police laughing at Nawi”.

As Neve Gordon explains in his piece, Ezra Nawi is a Jewish Israeli of Iraqi descent who speaks fluent Arabic. a gay man in his fifties and a plumber by trade [and well-known in Israeli human rights circles]. Nawi was accused of assaulting a policeman during the demolition shown on this film, and recently convicted in an Israeli court, He now faces a jail sentence that he is due to start serving in July. This article can be viewed in full here.

IDF imposes general closure of West Bank, Israeli police on high alert in East Jerusalem, as Gaza attacks continue

The IDF announced this morning that it had imposed a general closure on the West Bank, effective from midnight on Thursday until midnight on Saturday — after the Jewish sabbath/shabat. Israeli police and Border Police are on high alert in East Jerusalem for Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Haram as-Sharif in the Old City, as IDF attacks continue in Gaza, and rocket and other “projectile” firing continues from Gaza onto adjacent Israeli areas.

The closure information — sent to journalists at 0826 am on Friday 9 January, Jerusalem time — says that “Following a decision by the Minister of Defense and in accordance with state assessments, the Judea and Samaria Region [i.e., the West Bank] will be under a general closure beginning midnight, January 8th. The closure will be lifted on midnight, January 10th, 2008″.

In a somewhat — but not too — amusing linguistic error, the closure order also states that “Various humanitarian, medical and other exceptional cases will be permitted to cross throughout the closure, subjugated to the district coordinator and liaison”.

Helicopters are flying overhead in East Jerusalem — and the white surveillance blimp is almost certainly back (but I cannot see it from the room where I am working) — about an hour before the Friday prayers are scheduled to begin.

The American Consulate in Jerusalem has sent a warning to U.S. citizens that “The Israeli National Police are reporting the possibility of a large demonstration Friday, January 9, 2009, in the Old City and other possible demonstrations throughout East Jerusalem in protest of the ongoing situation in Gaza. There is expected to be a heavy police presence in and around the Old City throughout the day … Access restrictions to the Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount and a heavy police presence may spark disturbances at entry points, to include the Damascus, Herod’s and Lion’s gates, in addition to random security checkpoints set up throughout the areas leading to the Old City. Heightened awareness should continue to be practiced when approaching established and random security checkpoints throughout the Jerusalem area, where crowds and the possibility of spontaneous disturbances may occur”.

The UN Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire, adopted just before dawn here in the region, has had no impact on the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead, but the Israeli government security cabinet (Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Deputy PM + Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni) are to meet today to consider either expanding the current ground operation — or not.

Over the past two weeks — at the launch of the operation against Gaza targets on 27 December, and at the decision to start the ground invasion on 3 January — followed a similar pattern, with the decisions being taken late on Friday by the Security Cabinet, and implemented by the IDF on Saturday.

The Israeli negotiators — primarily the IDF’s Amos Gilad — returned from Cairo on Thursday night, hours before the UNSC vote. Their Egyptian interlocuters — primarily intelligence chief Omar Suleiman — would have briefed them on the latest Hamas stand.

The IDF has proposed another three-hour “humanitarian respite”, however — this time between noon and 3pm, reportedly to allow for Friday prayers in Gaza (!), which are supposed to be performed in group assemblies (in a mosque, if it is not bombed-out), and to allow for an earlier finish prior to the Jewish shabat.

"Israel keen to crack down on East Jerusalem"

This morning, I decided I would make a good try to buy some kaak – a delicious foot-long oval of chewy white bread (maybe it could be described as a cross between a bagel and a French baguette) completely covered with toasted sesame seeds.

The man who sells the kaak in our Twilight Zone used to sell 300 pieces a day, but by early 2008 it was down to 80, I was told by a former resident who — like the previous purchasers of the 220 other pieces of kaak — moved out to get further into town, into the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina.

For nearly a year I had wanted to get some kaak to enjoy in the morning — but either I was busy writing, or not dressed, or I didn’t hear the vendor’s call until it was too late and he had already disappeared, around the corner.

But today, I was up, dressed, and ready. I heard the call come from further down the hill, and I went outside to try to intercept the kaak-seller. But, what did I see instead? An Israeli Border Police jeep — olive green, bristling with antennas — careening up the hill, kicking up clouds of dust in its wake, not looking very peaceful.

The military jeep squealed around the corner, and screeched to a halt at the open garage door of my next-door neighbors. A soldier jumped out of the double-doors at the back of the jeep, and — covered by his comrades who stayed inside — he began shouting loudly and agressively at a man and his small son, about four or five years old, who were standing next to their car pulled into the neighbors’ open garage door, and chatting with another man.

The soldier continued shouting, even more loudly and aggressively, and then pointed his big black automatic machine gun at the man and his small son. At that moment, they obeyed his orders, and got into his car, and drove 50 meters up the road, crossing through the still-open hole in The Wall into the other side of Dahiet al-Bariid, the West Bank Side. Their car had Palestinian licence plates (green numbers on a white background).

The military jeep followed them up to the opening in The Wall, and then turned on the Israel-built access road on the Jerusalem side of The Wall, to wait, unseen from the West Bank side.

After a few minutes, the military jeep careened out of its hiding place, and returned back in the direction of where I was standing. It passed, and went further in the same direction, towards the huge Israeli administrative complex, where a number of huge red and white communications antennas (so high that they have lights on the top to warn any planes that might be flying in the area — these could be only Israeli military planes, of course, as no other planes can fly here.

The jeep came and went over the next 40 minutes, making a number of forays to intercept cars. It even crossed opening in The Wall and went into the West Bank side of Dahiet al-Bariid, to intercept a blue car that had been in our area a few minutes earlier, when the jeep was ostensibly out of sight.

I asked the neighbor, what is going on? The Israeli Border Police soldiers — who get overtime for doing their duty in our neighborhood — are telling people that it is forbidden for West Bankers to be in our area.

Isn’t there a better way to do it?

Or, is this part of the crackdown presaged by the remarks reportedly made earlier in the week by Yuval Diskin, the head of the Israeli security agency, or Shin Bet, in an article published in Haaretz under the title: “Shin Bet chief warned of copycat terrorists 3 hours before Jerusalem attack”.

In this article, Haaretz correspondent Shahar Ilan wrote that Diskin said to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense committee on Monday that: ” ‘If we do not take care of the power vacuum, Jerusalem will turn into a serious problem’, Diskin told the committee when asked about the spate of recent attacks in the capital. The Shin Bet chief called on the government to seal and destroy the terrorists’ homes in order to preserve Israel’s deterrent capability. Diskin warned that sections of Jersualem on both sides of the West Bank separation fence have become security vacuums, and that Israel is unable to properly enforce the law in these areas without deploying large numbers of forces. ‘Today, entering [the East Jerusalem area of] Shuafat requires massing a greater number of forces than it does entering Jenin’, Diskin said”… This article can be read in full in Haaretz here .

So, was this new Israeli Border Police presence in my neighborhood the beginning of a crackdown?

It seems clear that the Israeli military is preparing to close the gap in The Wall in our area. They have given no information, of course, to the residents of the neighborhood, or to anyone who might be affected.

There were rumors that it would be closed at the end of the school year, in June. This week, there are rumors that it will be closed in two weeks’ time — before the opening of the next school year.

But, nobody really knows anything …

View from the West Bank side of the gap still open in The Wall in Dahiet al-Bariid

Workers are putting double rows of razor barbed-wire on top of The Wall on both sides of the opening where the road to the West Bank passes through now. Razor barbed-wire! I haven’t seen this anywhere else on The Wall (I have passed many, many miles of The Wall, but I haven’t seen all of it).

The tension, the misery, the anxiety, the waiting for the neighbors to be immured, the non-stop stream of traffic by the house including heavy trucks carrying all sorts of heavy materials, the dust, the huge pot-holes in the road…

The neighbors say they will be happy and relieved when our opening in The Wall will finally be closed — despite the misery it is causing on the other side.

The neighbors predict that it will be very dangerous then, just on the other side, in the areas now consigned to the West Bank — with many attacks and robberies anticipated.

And, they say, they will be happy when the closure of the opening in The Wall means the dismantlement of the miserable and aggressive Israeli checkpoint down the hill (known usually as the Ar-Ram checkpoint, according to the name of the next village in the direction of Ramallah, once known as the garden of Jerusalem, which became a commercial hub in the region during the boom years of the Oslo Accords, where some some 25,000 to 30,000 Palestinian inhabitants who mostly have Jerusalem IDs now find themselves trapped).

So, I ask, if the Israeli military is going to close this gap — where literally thousands and thousands of cars, busses, and trucks pass each day — couldn’t they bother to inform the people who will be affected?

Couldn’t they put up a big sign, announcing their intention, and maybe the target date — even just an approximate date?

Couldn’t they post a couple of jeeps at the present opening in The Wall to stop West Bank cars in a reasonable and more respectable way?

Do they really have to behave like storm troopers, and point their big black automatic weapons at a father and his small son? Does this enhance Israel’s security?


For more on this neighborhood, see Toni O’Loughlin’s article in The Guardian, It’s like living at the end of the world: “Dirty, dilapidated and desperate, al-Ram is typical of the Palestinian towns cut off by the barrier on Jerusalem’s eastern outskirts” – the photo used for illustration is of this gap in The Wall, just 50 meters from where I have been living, that I am writing about in this post.

Photo from The Guardian - by Gali Tibbon

The description of the neighborhood is good, but the implication that terror attacks come from areas like this is blatantly unfair.

The three most recent attacks have come from Palestinian villages inside Jerusalem at its southern end, it is true. But it is not clear whether any or some or all of these attacks are indeed, terror.

The article in the Guardian reports that “Sufian Odeh used to be able to see his cousin’s house across the street from his apartment window – until Israel built a wall of concrete down the middle of their neighborhood two years ago. Standing eight metres high and just 13 metres from his building, it overshadows Sufian’s second-floor apartment like the wall of a prison, darkening this once thriving Palestinian district…His neighbours fled long ago, as the West Bank barrier crept down the main street of al-Ram, dividing families, separating children from schools and patients from clinics, and severing the road back to Jerusalem. Stranded outside Jerusalem by the barrier, al-Ram has become a virtual ghost town. Palestinian customers who came to Al-Ram from Jerusalem’s centre in search of cheaper prices have disappeared, as have one-third of its 1,800 businesses. Vast numbers of its 62,000 residents, unable to sell their homes, have gone. The abandoned shops, with their ‘for sale’ signs, deserted streets and overgrown gardens are typical of the Palestinian towns cut off by the barrier on Jerusalem’s eastern outskirts. Fearing permanent exile, many have moved back to Jerusalem. Israel conquered east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza, in the Six Day war of 1967. Claiming to unify the city, which was divided at the 1948 birth of the Jewish state, Israel expanded Jerusalem’s limits, tripling the territory inside the municipality …

“From his kitchen, Sufian, can see the last gap in the barrier, through which he travels each day to work near Tel Aviv. It already takes him hours to pass the local checkpoint, and he fears things are about to get much worse: Israel needs only to insert two more concrete blocks to seal the gap and shut al-Ram out for good. When that happens, he will be forced to travel several miles to a new checkpoint, where thousands will queue each day. He is on the verge of joining the exodus to the other side of the wall … ‘Whenever I see the wall, I can’t control this ugly feeling inside me. It’s hatred and anger’, says Sufian”. The full article in The Guardian can be read here .


This brings me to the article in today’s Haaretz, “Israel Keen to Crack Down in East Jerusalem”, written by Amos Harel. He writes: “Responding to the sharp rise in terrorist attacks in the capital, carried out by Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities are keen to expedite procedures that would authorize the resumption of punitive measures, such as the razing of terrorists’ homes … Since the start of the year there have been five major attacks in Jerusalem, claiming the lives of 12 Israelis. During the first half of the year, the Shin Bet security service arrested 71 Palestinians from East Jerusalem suspected of being involved in attacks, compared to 37 such arrests during the entire year of 2007. In the first seven years of the second intifada (which began in September 2000), some 270 East Jerusalem residents were arrested for similar suspicions. The same security sources said that the last three attacks in West Jerusalem (at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva and the two bulldozer attacks) constitute a new challenge for Israel, and stressed that at present there is no means to counter them. The combination of a lone terrorist, who decides to attack without having an organizational structure behind him, and the freedom of movement an Israeli identity card guarantees East Jerusalem Arabs, constitutes a weak point in Israel’s defenses, making it difficult to prevent similar attacks in the future. The security sources further said that in the near future, efforts will be made to accelerate those administrative processes that will result in the razing of the homes of the two bulldozer terrorists from East Jerusalem … If the order is approved and survives the Supreme Court appeal of the terrorists’ families, the homes of the two bulldozer terrorists will also be razed. A security source claimed last night that one of the reasons for the delay in destroying the homes is that the Shin Bet has yet to officially rule that the attacks were terror-related. However, the Shin Bet has refuted this claim, calling it ‘baseless’. In recent talks among security officials, additional steps for deterring East Jerusalem terrorists were discussed. Past ideas were revived, including that of expelling the families of terrorists involved in serious attacks inside the city, and revoking the Israeli identity cards of their immediate relatives. Such measures would require legislative changes, and legal experts expressed doubts whether such proposals would be approved by the Supreme Court. Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin is in favor of resuming the policy. Speaking at the Knesset prior to Tuesday’s attack, he said that Israel faces a ‘problem of deterrence’ in East Jerusalem because it lacks any effective punitive tool, like razing homes. This article can be read in full in Haaretz here .

A day before, Amos Harel wrote in Haaretz that “In the terrorist’s village, Umm Touba, they were vociferous Tuesday that the whole incident was an accident: the bulldozer driver lost control over the breaks and was shot only because of the lessons of the previous bulldozer attack. This is a common Palestinian argument in attacks involving vehicles, unlike suicide bombings or shooting attacks where the intent cannot be hidden. Moreover, the family members of the terrorist are keen not to lose any of their rights, which they could if their relative is described as a terrorist. One the other hand, it is impossible not to remember the story of the Israeli truck driver who killed four Palestinian workers in the Gaza Strip in December 1987. That accident sparked the first intifada, but the Palestinians are convinced to this day that it was an intentional act”. This article can be read in full in Haaretz here .