They long, they yearn, to pray in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque – on the last Friday in Ramadan

This is a great photo by ActiveStills, posted on this, the last Friday in Ramadan 2012, here.

Activestills in Ar Ram on 17 August 2012

Unusually, this year, because of the way the calendar fell, Ramadan has five Fridays this year — and today is the most important.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense has adopted more lenient rules this year for passage for prayer during Ramadan —  because, the IDF said,  of “the calm” — than in any year since the construction of The Wall [that the Israeli Ministry of Defense constructed for “security” reasons, meaning to separate Palestinians in the West Bank from Jerusalem and from Israel]…

But, these improved rules still say that only Palestinians under 16 years of age, or over 40 years of age, will be permitted to enter Jerusalem on the Fridays in Ramadan to worship.

Everybody else will have to try to apply for a permit — and that is almost impossible to obtain.

So, for the young men shown in this photo, they have no real prospect of entering Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa for anything up to 22 or 23 years from now!

Continue reading They long, they yearn, to pray in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque – on the last Friday in Ramadan

On the 8th Anniversary of the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion of The Wall – Israel is openly discussing annexation of the West Bank

Today is the 8th anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s Advisory Opinion of the Wall — declaring it illegal, and noting that the West Bank [including East Jerusalem] is under an Israeli military occupation.

The Wall is being extended in the Jerusalem area, particularly around Atarot [which Ehud Olmert reportedly offered to Mahmoud Abbas, along with Qalandia Airport, in September 2008].

Israel is also rushing to complete another wall on its border with Egypt, and is contemplating other walls on the northern border as well…and Israel’s current Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyanu has apparently asked a committee, another committee, to study the possibility of a wall along the Jordan River…

Also today, on this 8th anniversary, Israeli media have reported that an Israeli committee headed by retired Israeli Supreme Court judge Edmond Levy, and appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu to investigate the legality of building settlement outposts in the West Bank, determined that construction in the occupied territory is not illegal — because, it says,  the West Bank is not occupied.

It is indisputably true that, as the New York Times says the Levy Report argues, “the outposts now deemed unauthorized were established with the knowledge and encouragement of Israel’s most senior government echelons”. The Levy Committee therefore concluded that “this amounted to ‘implied agreement’.” [i.e. = implied agreement of the Israeli government and/or its senior officials]. The NYTimes piece is published here.

Continue reading On the 8th Anniversary of the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion of The Wall – Israel is openly discussing annexation of the West Bank

Dahiet al-Bariid in Al-Monitor

Dahiet al-Bariid, as we’ve written before, is divided in two by Israel’s Wall.

Al-Monitor posted three photos of The Wall in Dahiet al-Bariid as part of a photo album on ten years of The Wall, published here. This photo shows The Wall as it runs up Ahmad Orabi street, dividing Dahiet al-Bariid into two parts, one on the “Jerusalem” side, and one in the West Bank:
Photos on Israel's Wall at 10 years published by Al-Monitor
Al-Monitor’s caption for this photo reads: “Two boys walk along the wall and past an army watchtower in Dahiat Al-Barid, a West Bank neighborhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem. (photo by Sophie Claudet, Al-Monitor)”.

Yes, well, this exact spot has been granted, after an appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court [an appeal filed by some of the residents of this neighborhood, led by the Christian institutions there], has been ruled to be part of “Jerusalem” [meaning, Greater Jerusalem Municipality, which was created unilaterally by Israel a few weeks after the June 1967 War by carving out a crescent of West Bank neighborhoods running in an arc from Ramallah in the north almost to Bethlehem in the south, all around the Old City of East Jerusalem].

In February 2009, six months after the IDF military watchtower which can hardly been seen in this photo was put in place [in September 2008], sealing this part of The Wall, the IDF removed the awful ar-Ram checkpoint which was down the hill, making movement much easier into Jerusalem.

For the six long months between September 2008 and February 2009, there was only one way in and out, which was through the ar-Ram checkpoint, and at least 30 minutes waiting before leaving, even if only to go to the pharmacy or to buy some fresh vegetables or meat.

The military watchtower [“pillbox” was installed, in a terrible slow ballet choreographed under armed guard while 3 huge round cylinders were slowly driven out of Neve Yaakov, just up the street. It was the beginning of September [and the beginning of Ramadan 2008], and some members of a family were trapped in the “New Mosque” on the Jerusalem side. The armed guards told everybody watching to “go home and watch Baab al-Hara” [a popular Syrian miniseries playing for Ramadan]. But after about an hour, they eventually relented, and opened the doors on the two sides of the cylindrical military watchtower, so the father and his daughter could all make it home.

From that moment, there was no longer any direct passage to the West Bank, and to do that all traffic was redirected to the already-congested and truly terrible Qalandia Checkpint.

Continue reading Dahiet al-Bariid in Al-Monitor

Bethlehem behind Israel's Wall

This is the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.

Israel built this Wall.

It was a unilateral decision, and a unilateral implementation of this decision.

A member of the Israeli military (IDF Col. Danny Tirza) chose the route of this Wall, almost all by himself…

Photos taken by Xavier Abu Eid, and posted on Facebook:

The Wall in Bethlehem

Photo of The Wall in Bethlehem by Xavier Abu Eid

Bethelehem behind Israel's Wall

Freedom - written on The Wall in Bethlehem

Please, don’t say you didn’t know…

Nabil ElAraby named Foreign Minister of the new Egypt

Nabil El-Araby (ElAraby) has been named the Foreign Minister of the new Egypt.

A brilliant choice.

See his separate opinion on the Advisory Opinion on the Wall, here, written when he served as a Judge on the International Court of Justice:

“What I consider relevant to emphasize is that this special responsibility [of the United Nations for Palestine, as mentioned in the main body of the Advisory Opinion of July 2004] was discharged for five decades without proper regard for the rule of law. The question of Palestine has dominated the work of the United Nations since its inception, yet no organ has ever requested the International Court of Justice to clarify the complex legal aspects of the matters under its purview. Decisions with far-reaching consequences were taken on the basis of political expediency, without due regard for the legal requirements. Even when decisions were adopted, the will to follow through to implementation soon evaporated. Competent United Nations organs, including the General Assembly and the Security Council, have adopted streams of resolutions that have remained wholly or partially unfulfilled. The United Nations special responsibility has its origins in General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, hereafter the Partition Resolution”…

Fayyad testing limits of what is "Jerusalem"

How do we know what is “Jerusalem” today?

Announce that the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, himself a resident of East Jerusalem, will attend a ceremony inauguration renovated schools in various parts of East Jerusalem… After an order signed by Israel’s Ministry of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch, banning any Palestinian Authority activity inside Israeli territory, following instructions from Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, Fayyad cancelled his appearance at Dahiet as-Salaam [sealed behind The Wall, beyond Shuafat Refugee Camp and Anata Village].

PA PM Salam Fayyad was testing the boundaries of “Jerusalem, and Israeli PM Netanyahu got involved.

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, Fayyad was to rededicate 2 of 15 East Jerusalem schools that “the PA secretly paid to renovated”. This was published here.

The JPost report added that this news of PA schools renovations “was condemned by Israeli politicians, who accused the PA of flaunting its authority within Jerusalem”. According to this report, Israeli officials and politicians say “the PA violated Oslo Accords by renovating East Jerusalem schools”.

There was also another recent report that the PA had paid [presumably using donor money] to repave some of the roads in Dahiet as-Salaam.

But, Fayyad did attend the planned ceremony in Dahiet al-Bariid.

The ceremony that Fayyad attended, however, was in the part of Dahiet al-Bariid that is on the “Palestinian” side of The Wall.

Dahiet al-Bariid is split in two by The Wall, which runs right up the middle of Ahmad Orabi Street, separating families. But, this was done by the Army to implement a Supreme Court decision following a petition of some of the residents and institutions [though not including the World Bank, whose offices are there] closest to… well, if not all of Neve Yaakov, at least to the IDF’s Central Command (which is in Neve Yaakov). Residents and institutions told Israel’s Supreme Court that they did not want to be cut off from Jerusalem, which they said was the “center of their lives”. The Supreme Court accepted the petition, and the Israeli Army re-routed The Wall, right up the middle of the street.

The status of that special triangle [ Dahiet al-Bariid on the Jerusalem side of The Wall] is yet not fully clear. At the moment it is apparently still officially a “seam zone”, according to the Commander of Qalandiya Checkpoint who was present in February 2009, after the miserable “Ar-Ram” Checkpoint was removed. The Commander said “we will let the negotiators do their work”. That, of course, could take some time.

The miserable “Ar-Ram Checkpoint was left in place for six months AFTER the IDF sealed The Wall between the two parts of Dahiet al-Bariid — and this meant that the triangle of Dahiet al-Bariid that the Israeli Supreme Court left on the Jerusalem side was completely sealed off, without entry or exit except through the miserable Ar-Ram Checkpoint. Israeli garbage collection began almost immediately, but residents are still waiting for phone service from the Israeli Bezeq company…

The part of Dahiet al-Bariid on the other, “Palestinian”, side of The Wall, which Fayyad visited, is now only accessible after going through or around Qalandia, and through ar-Ram.

In this way — and only this way — according to the official Israeli reaction including Netanyahu’s tinvolvement, we are learning what this government considers to be “Jerusalem”, and what is not…

Continue reading Fayyad testing limits of what is "Jerusalem"

Trying to understand: some Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem

Here is an informative — though not exhaustively, and not completely up to date either [there is no mention of Sheikh Jarrah or Silwan, two real hotspots over the last year and more] — put together by The Palestine Center in Washington D.C.:

Lesley Stahl’s report for the CBS news program 60 Minutes was about Silwan, last Sunday, and can be viewed here, or via the Mondoweiss blog, here.

Lesley Stahl’s reporting included an extra, separate, segment on Silwan’s Beit Yonathan — an illegal 7-story building, built by, and housing, Israeli settlers — which is now under demolition orders: here.

Here is a graphic of East Jerusalem – including the Old City – and the neighborhoods sucrrounding it, from The Wonk Room blog. The graphic accompanies a guest post by Jerusalem-based Israeli activist, writer and filmmaker, Joseph Dana (Ibn Ezra), who is now on a visit to the U.S., about the CBS TV 60 Minutes segment on Silwan.  The dotted green line on the left of the graphic is the Green Line (which marked the separation between Israeli and Jordanian forces between 1948 and the June 1967 war), which now roughly indicates the separation between East and West Jerusalem :

graphic of East Jerusalem including Old City from The Wonkroom blog

In his guest post, Dana wrote:
“Silwan is a dangerous neighborhood. Not only because of the simmering political tensions between the Palestinians and the Jewish settlers occupying houses in the city, but also because the neighborhood is one of the centers of the drug trade. But of all the cities and villages in the West Bank, the Palestinians of Silwan have a reputation as being on the forefront of resistance to Israel’s steady takeover of Palestinian land … Silwan is located in East Jerusalem’s holy basin, which encompasses the north, east and south of the Old City. Over the past five years, the Israeli government has been encouraging Jewish settlers to settle in the holy basin..

Continue reading Trying to understand: some Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem

Funerals under occupation, and across a Wall

Tamer Halaseh has written on his weblog at the end of August that “where I live in Al-Sawahra Al-Sharqiya, accompanying the deceased in their final trip is another story … After the wall was completed in our area and we were separated from our families and friends in Jabal Al-Mukabber, the Israeli occupation forces informed us that in cases of death we were to coordinate the funeral arrangements with the Israeli army so as to be allowed entrance into Jabal Al-Mukabber and reach our cemetery. This means that when someone dies from my side of the town, instead of mourning the dead and arranging for the funeral, we have to run and coordinate with the Israelis to get the needed funeral permits. Sometimes, mourning family members have to wait hours till the office of coordination opens so they can apply for permits. This is not all; as with Israeli military orders that keep changing like the weather, every time there is a funeral we discover there is a new regulation regarding the funeral permits. One time we were told that only those 45 years old and above will be allowed to pass the checkpoint and enter Jabal Al-Mukabber. Another time we were told that only very close family members such as brothers, children or grandchildren, would be allowed to pass. Yesterday, a relative and direct neighbor of ours died. When his children went to the coordination office to get the permits for the funeral, they were told that only 50 mourners would be allowed to pass to the cemetery”… Tamer’s post can be read in full here.

In a 2008 post, also about funerals under the new regime, Tamer wrote that “Yesterday my father’s cousin died. Normally, this event would host one problem, the death of a loved one. For us, we must get permission to go through the checkpoint to bury our loved ones in Jerusalem. The Israeli wall now separates us from the cemetery…
Continue reading Funerals under occupation, and across a Wall

Fayyad shows BAN Ki-Moon a small part of the situation in the West Bank

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad gave UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-Moon a safe and secure look at the situation on the ground in the West Bank. Salam Fayyad shows BAN Ki-Moon the situation on the ground in the West Bank - 20 March 2010

UNSG BAN was originally supposed to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — but Abbas reportedly is suffering back pain following an accidental fall last week, and was advised to rest for a few days after a medical check in Amman on Friday.

Instead, in Ramallah, Fayyad reportedly took BAN to the Masyoun area in Ramallah, and further west to a spot near the infamous Israeli prison, Ofer, where there are hundreds if not thousands of Palestinian detainees being held, and where there is an Israeli military court where there are hearings for some detainees.

According to the Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, BAN said: “I saw with my very eyes the hardships the Palestinians face as a result of Israeli settlement activities and land confiscation”.

AP reported that BAN’s tour of the situation on the ground (in a small part of the West Bank) was brief. AP added that BAN told Fayyad in Ramallah that “The Quartet has sent a clear and strong message saying that we strongly support your efforts to establish an independent, viable Palestinian state”.

Fayyad and BAN - pool photo by Mohamad Torokman

After seeing some of the sights, BAN gave a press conference — apparently in the Palestinian Prime Minister’s office. Many journalists were not informed — by either the UN or the Palestinian Authority information services.

Continue reading Fayyad shows BAN Ki-Moon a small part of the situation in the West Bank

"The reason for walls is always fear"

Roger Waters (Pink Floyd, The Wall) has visited The Wall here — Israel’s “security barrier” — a couple of times.

He narrates a film just released (thanks to Angela for this information) by The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in Jerusalem, and he begins by saying:  “The reason for walls is always fear”…

Part One:

UN/OCHA says, in a note on Youtube explaining the film, that it “explores how Palestinians in urban and rural areas have been impacted by the Walls construction since the International Court of Justices Advisory Opinion in 2004, which declared the Wall’s route in the West Bank illegal. Several senior Israeli security officials are interviewed in the film, two of whom were directly responsible for planning the Wall route and who explain the Israeli position for constructing it. The film was made by the United Nations Jerusalem”.

Part One includes some archival footage of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announcing in August 2002 that “We have decided to erect buffer zones to achieve a security separation.  we have decided to start immediately to mark buffer zones and erecting obstacles along them”.

The narration that Waters reads (it was undoubtedly written and cleared by the UN says, about The Wall: “It does not follow the Green Line … but intrudes deep into the West Bank … It disrupts the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, as well as slicing off about ten percent of the West Bank … Tens of thousands of olive trees lay in the path of the bulldozers. For Palestinians the olive tree is a symbol of connectedness to their land. The Israeli authorities pledged to replant the uprooted trees, but many were cut down and disappeared [these phrases were clearly written by a careful UN bureaucrat]” …

Yes, it’s true, says General Amos Elon, identified as former Israeli Defense Ministry Head of the Security Fence Project): “we were on a very tight schedule” and “we had to solve the security problem as soon as possible”.

Of course, The Wall is not finished yet — maybe it will take another two years, if it is ever finished. [The film says only 58 percent is constructed so far — and that has cost some $2 billion dollars…)

Therefore, any determined suicide bomber could probably still get through to Israel without too much trouble.

Hanan Ashrawi says: “The Wall is not built on the ’67 lines. The Wall is built on Palestinian land, and it is a Wall for annexation and isolation … It has generated greater hostility, and when Israel claims to feel safer behind The Wall, they don’t understand that there was a decision for a cease-fire, there was a decision for the cessation of suicide bombing, and it was a result of political considerations, not because of the Wall itself”. [Is this confirmation that there was a prior decision in favor of suicide bombing?]

Shaul Arieli agrees that The Wall (he calls it “the fence”) does not have anything to do with the end of suicide bombings — but he says that’s because the Israeli military is catching potential bombers deep within the West Bank itself.

There is a good vignette of Israeli soldiers inspecting Palestinian families who have permits to enter through a closed gate to work their lands.

The film says that new UN research shows that only 20 percent of those in the northern West Bank who used to work their land which is now cut off by The Wall are getting permits — “Land becomes abandoned for lack of access”, Waters says.

The film also says that over 80 percent of The Wall goes through the West Bank (i.e., is not on the “Green Line” or armistice line that served as a boundary from the time the UN negotiated agreements with four neighboring Arab countries to end the fighting that surrounded the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 until the June 1967 war when Israel captured the West Bank (and more).

It suggests that this is the main reason for the July 2004 Advisory Opinion by the International Court of Justice that termed The Wall — and its associated regime — illegal.

Part Two (there is a problem with the volume):

The film says that the 2004 ICJ Advisory Opinion called for a freeze of any new construction, and for the dismantlement of those parts of The Wall that are inside the West Bank