Lessons from the Gaza War

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There are many reasons why I didn’t write any political analysis at the time of this bloody war.

One reason is that I only wanted the war to be over, to stop the bloodshed, while I knew that the longer Gaza can stand in the face of the Israeli genocidal rampage, the better the chance that the aggressors will not get what they want and that the siege of Gaza, which, in the long term, is even more destructive to Human lives and development, will be lifted.

But the best excuse is that throughout this war the monstrous Israeli war machine seemed clumsy and clueless, while the Gaza resistance seemed to keep cool and know what they are doing.

I preferred to keep quiet and do my small thing by demonstrating against the aggression.

Now, that the war is over, what can we learn from it politically? I will try to do it short, going over many different aspects of this war, hoping to write in more details about some of them soon.

Who Won The Military Confrontation?

Great wars end with the winning side conquering territory or even with the loser signing his surrender.

The Israelis say they could conquer Gaza, but they didn’t do it. In fact, they already did it twice, in 1956 and in 1967. When they withdrew from Gaza in 2005 it was without agreement, after they paid a heavy price in two Palestinian intifadas. The fact that Gaza was not occupied again is the combine result of the expected resistance to the act of occupation and the memories of the resistance over 38 years of continued occupation. Any way you count it, the resistance is what keeps Gaza free of direct occupation.

Without gaining land or surrender, isn’t war all about killing people and destructing their livelihood? The Israeli officers, politicians and experts run to the judge of history crying: “We killed more than 2,000 people; we destroyed the homes of almost half a million Gazans, what they did to us is nothing to compare. You must declare us winners!”

But this is not the way the war is decided. We live in the world of expectations. Everybody knew that Israel has the military firepower to destroy Gaza. If the war is not for total annihilation of the other side, then it is fought to prove something about the relationship of forces.

Like Lebanon’s Hezbollah in summer 2006, the Palestinian resistance in summer 2014, led by the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, surprised Israel both with their technical preparations and with their fighting power.

  • Missiles and mortars – The previous Israeli onslaught on Gaza, just in November 2012, ended with a few rockets that reached the Tel-Aviv metropolitan area, where most of the Israelis live. Now, for the first time, Tel Aviv was systematically targeted, putting in doubt the Israeli assumption that it can wage its wars on other people’s lands without being targeted. From the first days of the confrontation, as they had no effective way to stop the rockets flying, the Israeli military commanders claimed that the resistance is running out of ammunition. By the end of the first week they declared that a third of the missiles were already used. After 51 days of war the only possible conclusion is that they didn’t have any idea how many rockets there were. The only bright side for the Israelis was the development of the anti-rocket systems, which limited the practical damage they suffered. It is still an open question how much of this is real technological success and how much is the weakness of the new Palestinian rockets. Yet, you should remember that many of the people in Gaza that were launching these rockets spent their summers as kids throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. They have many reasons to feel that they are making progress.
  • The Tunnels – In this war the Palestinian resistance gave a new dimension to the old notion of Underground movement. It compensated for the overwhelming Israeli firepower and Israel’s full control of the air and the sea with this simple, old technological solution. The tunnels that went under the fence and behind Israeli lines where only a small addition. The Israeli fixation with “destroying the tunnels” (whether real or simulated) enabled the resistance to kill many more soldiers inside Gaza than those killed by attacks through the tunnels.
  • Endurance – Israel was not prepared for a long confrontation. In the end it was the longest war of its kind. Typically the Israeli political thinking was that they should buy as much as possible political time in order to let the army do its thing (They call it “Let the IDF win” – even though they don’t even remember when they last won, nor have any idea what such a win should be…) On the other side the Hamas leadership made an up-hill job during the long days of fighting and negotiations to improve the functioning of the new Palestinian unity and heal some of the breaches in the Arab solidarity. In the end news of rockets in Tel Aviv fell on the Western news somewhere between car bombs in Baghdad and an earthquake in Iceland – not a ranking that the Zionist state, as the spoiled child of the world’s top powers, can let themselves be in.

For all these reasons, this military confrontation created some shift in the completely imbalanced balance of power in favor of the Palestinians.

The Politics of the War

The military confrontation is just the tip of the iceberg of a much wider confrontation between political entities, societies and economies. Each side in our days is deeply dependant on a supportive “camp” of states, people and cultures.

Israel started this war at what seemed like an optimal combination of political circumstances. The suffering of the Palestinian people tends be shadowed by the bloody mayhem in Syria, Iraq, Libya and other Arab countries. The Western powers have lost any purpose or semblance of direction in handling the conflict in Palestine and their attitude is defined by their prejudice against Palestinians as “terrorists” and by the mantra about “Israel’s right to defend itself”, no matter what any of the two sides is doing.

The Palestinian resistance entered this war in the worst regional conditions. It has never been more isolated. The Egyptian state is now controlled by a boiling counter-revolution that regards Hamas as an extension of its main enemy, the Muslim Brothers. The traditional supporters of the resistance in Iran and Syria are busy putting down the insurrection by the Syrian people and didn’t forget Hamas’ taking sides with the revolt against Bashar.  So the resistance in Gaza was left with only Qatar and Turkey as active political backers for its aspiration to break the siege.

In these conditions, developments throughout the war didn’t bring any massive breakthrough but did help gradually to tilt the edge toward the resistance’s side.

In the beginning of the war Israel was exited by its own unity around the sacred cause. This wall to wall unity is typical to the settlers’ community in Israel at the beginning of any war and is held together by complete disregard to the Palestinians as Human beings and by the long practiced rituals of self-victimization. But recent developments in the Israeli society meant that racist extremism, the logical conclusion of the settler mentality, took control of politics, the street and the media. Before the end of the war most of the ruling coalition and half of the war cabinet turned to “talkback attacks” on the government and the military leadership for failing to satisfy their militarist dreams. The atmosphere of internal terror against any opposition to the war helped to silence political opponents but didn’t make the “internal front” much stronger.

On the other side the Palestinians entered this war with a newly established “unity government” that started its period by the PA President Abbas declaring that security cooperation with the occupation is “sacred” and failing to transfer wages to tens of thousands of government employees in Gaza. The Israelis hoped to use Abbas to add pressure on the Hamas-led resistance in Gaza.

As the attack on Gaza enraged Palestinians elsewhere, there was a massive popular mobilization – most significantly in Al-Quds, where there was a local Intifada after the burning to death of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. In the 1948-occupied territories Palestinian youth held the widest confrontations with the police since October 2000, in which more than a thousand were detained. In the West Bank there were several mass demonstrations and several demonstrators were shot dead by the Israeli army. 

In the end it was the Palestinians that played the unity card, succeeded to form a united list of Palestinian demands and a united negotiating team. Israeli and Egyptian “achievements” like letting Abbas’ men control the border crossings are no more than face saving for them to cover their agreement to relieve the siege. What extra “security” for them will the Palestinian guards give as anything that goes through the crossings is already scrutinized by the Israelis or the Egyptians?

On the Arab level Hamas made the best in the worst conditions. For some time the Palestinian cause was again at the center of attention. There were demonstrations in many places, massive ones in Jordan, some even in Haleb (Allepo) in spite of continuous bombing by the regime. In these conditions every Arab government felt obliged to pay some lips’ service to show support for the Palestinians. Even the Egyptian government had to temper down its instinctive hostility.

Throughout the world there was a wave of activity and support for the Palestinian cause. Naturally “Stop the War” was accompanied by “Lift the Siege”, “BDS” and “Free Palestine”. The Latin American left, which took control of most of the state in South America over the last decade, gave important moral support, led by Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first Indian and Socialist president, who endorsed BDS and declared Israel a terrorist state.

Public opinion in the Arab World and the West also forced some rethinking in the ruling imperialist circles. It mostly came in two waves: First the temporary suspension of air travel to Tel Aviv, later re-examination of some weapons’ supply by the US, Britain and Spain. This doesn’t mean that the Western powers overcame their racist instinct – we have seen, for example, the European initiative toward the end of the war to re-condition the lifting of the siege of Gaza on its demilitarization – just as the Israelis themselves all but dropped this condition. But Israel is not as high as it used to be in the imperialist agenda – it is just another source of problems. Its imperialist masters have almost forgotten when was the last time that it served their interests in any effective way.

What Next?

The future of Gaza is still uncertain. Even when you reach agreement with Israel (or with Egypt) there is no guarantee that it will be honored, as happened with the agreements after the previous (2012) war and with the 2011 prisoners’ exchange. Yet Gaza is fighting for liberty…

It required one intifada to bring in the PLO and another intifada to throw away the Israeli army and settlers. The Israeli withdrawal in 2005 enabled the relatively free 2006 elections and the establishment of the Hamas government. By 2007 Hamas succeeded to implement the elections result and take full control after aborting an attempted coup by a US trained militia led by Dahlan.

Gaza became the first (and till now only) part of Palestine under Palestinian control. Since then Israel makes everything it can to make this experience at Palestinian independence painful. In the last years its official policy is “differentiation” – to prove that lives under the occupation and Abbas in the West Bank is better than independence (and siege) under Hamas. Being loath to give anything to the Palestinians and driven by uncontrollable desire for settlements and land grab, it concentrated its effort on making life in Gaza a hell.

Gaza became stronger in spite of the siege and consecutive attacks. In the last war, for the first time, Gaza fought like a state, mostly by organized armed forces under central command. In the middle of the war Hamas’ leader, Khaled Mashaal, boasted that the resistance is killing soldiers while the Israelis are killing civilians. By the end of the war most Palestinian leaders agreed that the guarantee for their achievements is not any agreement but the power of the resistance.

But the struggle is not about Gaza – it is about the future of Palestine. And Palestine could not be freed while much of the rest of the Arab world is deteriorating into a bloody civil war. The heroic standing of the Palestinian during the latest assault on Gaza was an important reminder to the Arab people everywhere that the fight for freedom requires unity in the face of the oppressors and that it can be won even at the harshest conditions.

 

Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar Resists Deportation

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From the protest tent in the PLC compound in Ramallah, Jarrar calls on the World’s People to act to defend the Palestinian People

The occupation forces have their special way to bring you a letter, or rather to convey a message. On Wednesday, August 20, they deployed some 50 soldiers, in full combat gear, to bring a small piece of paper to Khalida Jarrar, Palestinian MP from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), in her home in Ramallah. The time was also carefully chosen, 01:30 at night, in the best military tradition of terrorizing the occupied population.

According to the tradition of occupation theatre, the commanding officer introduced himself as “Captain Yahya” and handed Khalida an order in Hebrew, which she doesn’t read. But if the Israeli occupiers are short on Arabic office skills, they were generous to offer a translation on the spot. They told Khalida she must leave her house, her family and work in Ramallah within 24 hours and be confined to the Jericho district for six months.

The order itself, based on unspecified “intelligence information”, is directed specifically at Khalida, claiming that her deportation is necessary for “maintaining the security of the region”. But the military order is a blatant message to the Palestinian people and the world as a whole: The occupation is here, everywhere in Palestine, disregarding any agreements or laws, local or international.

Resisting Deportation

Khalida refused to sign the decree. She declared that she will not obey the illegal order and instead said that “it is the occupation that must leave our homeland.” On the next day, October 21, she started a protest tent in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) – the Palestinian Parliament, to which she was elected in 2006.

Instead of disappearing quietly from the scene, as the occupiers wished her to do, she poses a challenge to the occupation and to the façade of Palestinian semi-independence under the occupation. If they want to get her and throw her to Jericho, the occupiers now should come and break with their military boots the gates of the PLC, demonstrating graphically what the real meaning of their order is.

In this protest tent there is always a gathering of supporters. Delegations come to visit and convey their condemnation of the deportation order. Yesterday, Monday August 25, I was there with a small group of activists from Haifa and the Galilee. At 13:00, some 150 people from different NGOS and Palestinian movements held a vigil in front of the UN Ramallah headquarters and conveyed a petition from the PLC and many other organizations calling on Ban Ki-Moon and the UN to intervene.

The Palestinian Parliament

The PLC was never allowed to really take sovereignty of any area, as Israel continues its brutal occupation and its effort to drive out the Palestinians from all of their land through settlements and ethnic cleansing. Actually the siege of Gaza is the occupation’s response to the 2006 elections to the PLC, when the most democratic vote in Palestinian history produced a Hamas majority, in an expression of popular rejection of the Oslo agreement, security coordination with the occupation and the corruption of the PA under Abbas.

The PLC is not even allowed to function as a toothless discussion forum – its members in Gaza are locked up by the siege, like the rest of the Gaza population, and thus prevented from attending meetings. About half Palestinian MPS in the West Bank are held in Israeli prisons, most of them without any charge.

In this sorrow state of the Palestinian Parliament, Khalida was trusted with what may be considered the most important parliamentary institution: She’s the head of the PLC’s prisoners’ committee. This trust is one expression of the position she holds in Palestinian public life, recognition of her persistent activity and dedication to Human Rights and a result of the good relations that she keeps with all the Palestinian factions.

Interviewing Khalida

In the hot afternoon the stream of visitors and delegations became thinner and Khalida found some time to give a special interview for Free Haifa.

She told again the story of Wednesday night… When asked by “Captain Yahya” what her response to the order was, she stressed that it is just another example of the criminal activities of the occupation against her people, nothing in comparison to the on-going massacre of the people of Gaza.

She is proud of the wide solidarity she receives since the news came out about the order against her. There were solidarity delegations from all the Palestinian movements. The PLC issued a special declaration, like many other organizations. There were many solidarity messages from parliamentarians, Human Rights and Palestinian solidarity activists from around the world.

She said that the Palestinian Prime Minister, the head of the new National Unity government, Rami Hamdallah, called to express solidarity. But, no, she is not aware of any official position regarding her case from the presidency or from the Palestinian government.

It is significant that she is being deported from Ramallah, which is classified under the Oslo agreement as region “A”, where the full responsibility for security is supposed to lie in the hands of the Palestinian Authority (PA), to Jericho, which is also “A”. How comes the Israeli occupation forces deport her for “the security of the region”?

It is all part of the new period where the occupation likes to show how it is getting crazy and throws away all restraints. We see it in Gaza where the killing of civilians is not only by-effect but the main goal of Israel in its war. We see it in Jerusalem where the occupation systematically drags small kids from their beds at night to fill its detention camps. We see it in the “Dakhel” (the Palestinian territories occupied since 1948) where more than a thousand demonstrators were arrested in the latest protests against the massacre in Gaza.

Speaking more generally about the current confrontation in Gaza, it proves the strength of the resistance in the face of the most massive and cruel attacks. The continuing resistance and the support of the resistance from the people in spite of the heavy sacrifices show the determination of the Palestinian people and give new hope that they will one day be able to live free on their land.

In the end she had a special message to international public opinion. The occupation doesn’t respect any law and doesn’t stop at any crime and violation of the basic rights of the Palestinian people. The failure to bring the occupation to account opens the way to more crimes and bloodshed. Today the Palestinian people feel that the international law doesn’t protect them. It is high time that the people of the world will act to protect the Palestinian people against this criminal occupation.

“Special Supervision Order”

I ask Khalida what is so special about her deportation order. I remind her that Ghassan, her husband, was confined to his house in Jenin while a student activist in Bir Zeit near Ramallah. Well, she smiles at the old memory, there is a difference. He was confined to his house – I have nothing in Jericho to go there…

I ask Addameer more about the legal details… There was the precedent of the 3 Palestinian parliamentarians from Al-Quds (Jerusalem) who were denied residency and forcefully deported to Ramallah… But the issue of Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians from Al-Quds is different and goes by another set of laws. By the way, they are all in prison now.

There are other examples of Palestinian prisoners that were forced to go to Gaza as part of the conditions for their release. Other released prisoners, in older times, where force to move from their original villages in the West Bank…

But the “special supervision order” against Khalida seems to be very special indeed, or maybe another dangerous precedent.

I recall how similar orders were issued against the leaders of “Al-Ard Movement” in the sixties. Some of them were confined to remote, wholly Jewish, towns like Safad and Arad. Others were arrested and the movement was successfully suppressed.

The occupation is still the same, but the Palestinian struggle made a long way since. The voice of Khalida Jarrar will not be silenced.

See Addameer site for more legal details and a call for action.

You are invited to sight a petition in support of Khalida.

The original text of the "special supervision order"

The original text of the “special supervision order”

It is just a Child… So easy to kill, so hard to report!

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Child Martyr Khalil Al-'Anati, shot dead by IDF soldiers in Al-Fawar refugee camp

Child Martyr Khalil Al-‘Anati, shot dead by IDF soldiers in Al-Fawar refugee camp

The Israeli occupation army shot dead today (Sunday, 10 August 2014) the boy Khalil Al-‘Anati in the Al-Fawar refugee camp in Al-Khalil (Hebron).
According to the family’s testimony, the eleven year old was standing at the door of his house when he was shot. He was brought by volunteers to the Al-Ahli hospital, still bleeding, but the doctors could not save his life. According to the doctors, as reported in the press, the bullet entered through his back and went out through his stomach…

Reuters, the news agency, reporting in Arabic, brought also the response of the Israeli occupation army. It claimed that there was “a violent riot” and that the soldiers “shot at the main inciters and identified a hit among them”!

This is another crime in the endless chain of Zionist crimes against the Palestinians, the original inhabitants of this land, who are expelled, dispossessed, occupied, exploited, oppressed, persecuted and slaughtered wherever they go.

No News

The continued Apartheid regime and the daily killings is possible not only because of the criminals who pull the trigger and those who send them, but also because of the denial mechanism within the Israeli civil society for which the murder of the child Khalil Al-‘Anati is not even a meaningful piece of news, no news at all.

Let’s see what was written today in Haaretz, the newspaper which praises itself for speaking in the name of Liberalism and Democracy in Israel. (Recently its owner even declared his paper’s position as “Left”.)

The death of the child Khalil didn’t receive a news item but showed twice in the short “breaking news”:

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“12:40  Palestinian media sources: A 12 years old youth that was hurt this morning from shooting by IDF forces in Al-Fawar refugee camp in South Hebron died of his wounds.”

It is common practice in Israel that a soldier who dies in battle receives immediate promotion of his rank. Similarly, a child that is killed by the soldiers is “promoted” to the rank of “youth”. By the way, I re-read many Palestinian sources and all of them speak about Khalil as a child – “tifl” in Arabic.

Later Gili Cohen, the military correspondent, updates:

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“15:04 “The IDF expressed grief over the death of a Palestinian in the confrontation in Al-Fawar in the South Hebron Mountain. The event will be investigated. (Gili Cohen)”

Luckily for Haaretz, in this time of war, there is also the “current updates” section for news that doesn’t deserve a special item. We can read there a small sub-title:

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(In 4 words, marked yellow) “12 years old killed in the West Bank”

Later, in the “updates” section:

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Partial translation:

“12:04 Palestinian news agency Maan reported that 12 year old was killed from IDF forces shooting in Al-Fawar refugee camp in South Hebron Mountain. According the report, IDF forces entered Al-Fawar for unknown reasons, a confrontation developed with local residents, which threw stones.

“Witnesses told that the youth, which didn’t take part in the confrontation, stood in front of his house when an IDF force opened fire toward him…

“IDF said in response that during activity in Al-Fawar a confrontation developed, during which an IDF force open fired from which a minor Palestinian was killed. The IDF is sorry for his death…”

This way Haaretz managed to maintain its readers’ peace of mind and to report the “incident” four times without mentioning the C word, A CHILD (or a BOY).

This hardship to tell the truth as it is, to report how the IDF is killing children, helps to make the killing itself much easier and more ubiquitous.

(This post was originally published in Hebrew).

 

Zionist Demo in Haifa: “In Gaza there is no studying, there are no children left!”

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Palestinians raise their hands in victory sign against right wing demo in Haifa

Palestinians raise their hands in victory sign against right wing demo in Haifa

There was a group of Israeli demonstrators just beside the “UNESCO Circle for Tolerance and Peace”, at the lower entrance to the wonderful Bahai Gardens, in the touristic area of the German Colony in the center of Arab downtown Haifa… There were some 30 of them, most of them young, waiving Israeli flags. On the other side of Carmel Avenue there was a small spontaneous Palestinian counter demonstration that soon outnumbered the intruders. But the police outnumbered both groups by far…

It might be better described as a shouting match, with both sides trying to insult and out-shout the other side. But at some point our side fell silent – as the Zionists were waiving their flags, singing and dancing enthusiastically. We wanted to hear better, to be sure what this rhythm that made them so excited was. They were celebrating the achievements of the Israeli army in Gaza by singing and dancing: “In Gaza there is no studying, there are no children left!” (In Hebrew it sounds better, it even ends by a rhyme…)

Preparing for the worst

The general political atmosphere in Haifa during the past month was quite terrible. While during the second “Lebanese War” in July 2006, and during the Zionist Christmas eve onslaught on Gaza in the winter of 2008-9, there were almost daily anti-war demonstrations, this time is different.

Even before the beginning of the attack on Gaza on July 7, we lived through a month of Zionist incitement, which meant, on local level, that almost every quite Palestinian protest vigil finished with some of the participants being detained.

This, of course, didn’t deter us from demonstrating against the massacres rampage as it was launched. There was a small protest in the German Colony on the first day of the attack, and a bigger one on Monday 14/7, in Emil Habibi Circle in Wadi Nisnas, which developed into a spontaneous march through the streets of The Wadi, Haifa’s main Arab center.

For the next weekend two big demonstrations were planned. The youth movements (Al-Herak Al-Shababi) called for a march on Friday 18/7, to start in Abbas Circle and march through the Arab neighborhoods. The “Democratic Front” (Al-Jabha Al-Dimokratiya) called for Jews and Arabs to march together on top of the Carmel Mountain, in Moria Avenue, the main route of the Jewish city.

Toward these demonstrations there were even more Zionist incitements, with Haifa’s Mayor, Yona Yahav, which in most times proud himself for presiding over a peaceful center of coexistence, taking a leading role. He called on the police to prevent the demonstrations, even though the Jabha’s demonstration was licensed by the Police under a court order, and even called on them to prevent Arabs from outside Haifa that want to take part in the demonstrations from entering the city.

On Friday the Youth peaceful demonstration was brutally attacked by a big police force, with the Yassam “anti-riot” squads. Some 30 demonstrators were arrested and many were injured.

But the real horror was in the Carmel’s Jewish district, where thousands Zionist fascists gathered to hunt down demonstrators and Arabs in general, shouting “Death to the Arabs!” Many people were beaten on their way to the demonstration, between them Haifa’s Arab deputy mayor Dr. Suhail Assad. After some buses with demonstrators were attacked and their windows broken, the rest of the buses didn’t even try to enter Haifa, just as the mayor wished. The police didn’t do anything to stop the pogrom, until after the Anti-War demonstration was dispersed. Many hard-core demonstrators said this was the most frightening such event they have ever seen. (For a detailed report of this night you may read a previous post in Free Haifa.)

There was not much protest in Haifa since this weekend. We were going to demonstrations in Nazareth, Shefa’amer, Akka, Al-Lid, Tel Aviv and many other places – but Haifa stayed quiet, somewhat traumatized.

When the news came that the right wing is preparing to demonstrate in the German Colony this Saturday, 9/8, supposedly in front of the “Friendship Club” (Nady Al-Ukhuwa) of the Democratic Front, there was some concern. Till now the Right in Haifa almost never enters the Arab neighborhoods. But now, after they smelt blood in the Carmel, would they dare attack us at our homes?

Anti Climax

At the event this was not frightening at all. The famous “secret police” officer, who stays on the other side of the street in our demonstrations, was chumming with the few demonstrators, and one of our secret observers heard him asking why so few people showed up. “You know, we put the invitation on Facebook, and these are the people that came”, was the honest answer.

People from different Arab and Democratic parties gathered early to protect the Ukhuwa club, but the right wingers were kept by the police at safe distance near the UNESCO Circle. We went there to have a look. When there is not so many of them they are almost ridiculous. Here are some more slogans we learned:

  • “Gaza is a parking” – probably in praise of the flattening of neighborhoods…
  • “Bring me Hummus, Chips and Salad” – portraying their view of their relations with local Arabs.
  • “You Don’t Have a State!” – Something we already noticed.
  • “A Jew is a soul – An Arab is a son of a whore!” –a racist version of a common football chant.

Most of the other stuff I will not repeat here, as it was graphical sexual abuse.

At one point we were astonished again. They all started to sing, to the rhythm of a Hassidic hymm: “The entire world hates Israel!”… We almost joined them.

More details about Israel’s violation of the ceasefire in Rafah

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Rafah after the massacre - Israel was here...

Rafah after the massacre – Israel was here…

You don’t need to bother with the details in order to know for sure that Israel is committing massive war crimes against the people of Gaza. With overwhelming fire-power, the most accurate weapons, complete control of the air and the sea, Israel is holding the people of Gaza captives for decades. Killing some 2000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, more than 400 children, within the first month of their assault on Gaza, can’t be justifiable self defense, neither “un-intended collateral damage”. It is Israel’s studied and consistently pursued policy to terrorize the Palestinian people by massacres and large-scale destruction, hoping to force them into submission.

But sometimes the details are also important. Especially where we want to discuss not only the behavior of the Israeli colonialists, but also of all the rest of the world that lets Israel go on with its crimes.

The encouragement of Israel’s war crimes was most blatant with the massacre of Rafah on Friday, August 1, 2014. A cease fire, agreed by both sides, entered into effect at 08:00. Two hours later the Israelis accused the Palestinians of violating the ceasefire, killing two soldiers and taking a third with them. Barack Obama, the main supplier of weapons for all Israel’s massacres, and Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary general of the UN that is supposed to promote peace, both hurried to back the Israeli version of affairs, not even calling for “restraint” but piling harsh words against the Palestinians.

As a response, Israel started an all out assault on Rafah’s people, with indiscriminate fire on populated areas from aircrafts, tanks and artillery.  Bulldozers and tanks intentionally crushed homes on the families that happened to live there, without giving them an opportunity to evacuate. People that tried to run away were shot in the streets. Within two days some 150 people were dead and many more wounded.

Who violated the ceasefire?

On August 4, just two days after the massacre, Haaretz published an initial IDF (Israel’s occupation army) inquiry about the incident that ended the ceasefire. In Free Haifa, the same day, I quoted a single sentence from the inquiry as a proof that the basic violation was from the Israeli side. It said: “… a Givati Brigade patrol came under heavy fire while moving toward a building where a tunnel shaft was located.” Moving into enemy territory was against the letter and spirit of the ceasefire. It is hard to believe that the Israeli patrol expected Hamas militants to invite them to drink coffee together. In this case the question “who opened fire first?” (It will probably never be known, as both sides are dead) has no meaning.

Today (August 8) Haaretz published more comprehensive report of the same incident, again in Hebrew and English. What they try to stress (with more conviction than facts) is that the clash started after the ceasefire entered into effect at 08:00. But even their report, which they admit to rely only on Israeli sources, confirms the fact that the Israeli force was intentionally advancing and initiated the violation of the ceasefire.

According to Haaretz in English: “On Thursday night it emerged that a tunnel had not been destroyed on the northeastern edge of Rafah. Soldiers from the Givati Brigade’s reconnaissance force, under the command of Maj. Benaya Sarel, were told to advance a few hundred meters to look for the entrance shaft. According to a senior officer, the force finished its task at about 5 A.M.”

For what happened later we must revert to the Hebrew version which is more detailed:

“The soldiers began searching the area, which is mostly agricultural area with houses and greenhouses. After 08:00 Major Sarel noticed a suspicious movement in one of the buildings in the area. Sarel apparently suspected that a Hamas man was observing the forces. After consultation with his commanders on the radio, according to one version… he was allowed to examine the building”.

“Sarel went to check the building at the head of a small force… The rest of the force stayed a few dozen meters away, behind a building on the corner.”

So, according to the Isareli sources, all that Hamas’ people were suspected of in this incident was “observing” the Israeli force. It can be regarded impolite to stare at strangers, but it is hardly a breach of the ceasefire.

What really drives Israel mad, in this incident and in many others during the last month, was that their belligerence and provocations were met with stiff resistance by the Gazan fighters.

These details are important and we should demand from anybody that was misled by the Israeli lies and repeated them to apologize for the victims of the Rafah massacre.

More important, the people of the world should put an end to the free hand that the Israeli colonialist racist regime receives to kill Palestinians.

After all, the massacre of Rafah, like all Israel’s massacres in Gaza and elsewhere, are severe war crime, crimes against Humanity, with no regard to the lies and excuses they use to justify them.

Israel disproves its own lies about the Rafah massacre – and the massacre continues…

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Indiscriminate Israeli Bombing of Rafah, from Refugees in UNRWA Schools to Ambulances

Indiscriminate Israeli Bombing of Rafah, from Refugees in UNRWA Schools to Ambulances

In the bloody genocidal Israeli rampage against Gaza’s people – the massacre in the city and refugee camp of Rafah on the southern end of the Gaza strip was the worst, and it still continues. Just as I write this line on Monday morning (August 4, 2014), Israel declared a humanitarian ceasefire – but it will not include Rafah. So the people of Rafah will not be allowed even to dig their dead from under the ruins or treat the wounded or get some water to drink.

The Rafah massacre is also the most extreme proof of the “world community”, led by the US and the UN, active encouragement and support for the Israel’s war crimes. As you may remember, on Friday morning, August 1, a 72 hour ceasefire in Gaza had to start. About two hours after it started, Israel announced that a unit of its army was attacked by “a suicide bomber”, killing two soldiers, and that one soldier was held by the Palestinian militants.

Just as the news came, Barack Obama went on the air to adopt the Israeli version of events, denounce Hamas acts in strong words that he never used for the killing of more than a thousand Palestinian civilians, including 400 children. He went on to wonder whether Hamas can ever be trusted to make a ceasefire. The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, trying to outdo his bosses in Washington, said the Hamas attack was “likely to have very serious consequences for the people of Gaza” – actually encouraging the Israelis to go farther in the ongoing massacre.

Lies exposed

In an article in the Israeli Haaretz today, published in different versions in English and Hebrew, Gili Cohen brings some details from the IDF (The Israeli Army) internal inquiry about what happened on Friday morning.

The most important lines may be the small print, and don’t be astonished if they will disappear sometime soon. They say: “… a Givati Brigade patrol came under heavy fire while moving toward a building where a tunnel shaft was located.” So, according to the IDF itself, it was the Israeli patrol itself that advanced toward the area held by the Palestinian militants, clearly breaching the ceasefire agreement!

The report goes on to say that “Contrary to earlier reports, however, the inquiry concluded that the terrorist who came nearest the three soldiers wasn’t wearing a suicide belt, but simply continued firing his rifle until he was killed.”

It is typical that at the heights of the battle people exaggerate and public relations officers paint a picture that suits their purpose… But what will Obama and Ban Ki-moon say now to the relatives of the hundreds of people that died in the massacre that they have so enthusiastically encouraged?

The Hannibal Procedure

The Rafah events are also outstanding in demonstrating how the Israeli genocidal campaign has nothing to do with preserving the lives of Jews, not even of its own soldiers. It is rather a desperate case of racist “white supremacy” going psychotic.

The main argument underlying the severity of the attack on the Givati patrol in Rafah was the Israeli “fear” that one of its soldiers was captured by the resistance.

Haaretz goes on to report:

“The IDF then sent additional forces to the area, including aircraft… This included a tank battalion and an infantry battalion… These forces also laid down heavy fire “from all directions,” including tank shells, artillery bombardments and air strikes, in an effort to isolate the area where Goldin was thought to be, block all access routes to and from it and thereby ensure that nobody could either enter or leave without the soldiers noticing, the IDF source said. This was in line with the Hannibal procedure, which one senior officer said is meant to ensure that “every effort to locate the kidnapped [soldier] and the kidnappers” is made.”

Actually the main purpose of the onslaught on Rafah was to make sure that lieutenant Goldin will not stay alive at the hand of the Palestinians. It is reminiscent of the “better dead than red” slogans of the cold war. “We burned the village in order to save its people from communism…”

At the end of the report, Haaretz concludes:

“According to Palestinian reports, more than 130 Palestinians were killed in this onslaught, with some of the bodies located only in the days after it happened. Palestinians also accused the IDF of attacking vehicles en route to the Rafah hospital, including several ambulances.

“Given the massive firepower employed, it could be assumed that the casualties would probably include innocent civilians.”

(Notice Haaretz caution and under-statement in reporting Israel’s war crimes!)

By today’s announcement that the ceasefire will not include Rafah we may assume that the Israeli army is not fully sure that Goldin is already dead, but it is determined not to be proved wrong at any price…

The Startup Nation

Israel is very proud of its achievement in intercepting the relatively primitive missiles of the resistance.

They will now invest billions of dollars (from the US tax payers’ money) to build underground detectors and defenses…

But if their main concern is that a soldier may go stray and be held alive by the resistance, they could also solve it by cheap technology without causing so much collateral damage. They may inject each soldier with a death pill that will be activated as soon as he loses contact with his base…

Israel’s Genocidal Rampage Must Be Stopped

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Children, tragic victims of Israeli aggression on Gaza: rights groups

Since the latest onslaught on the Palestinian people started I spend most of my time demonstrating, going to court to support the detainees from demonstrations and following the news which drive me mad…

What can you write that will knock the minds of people who close their eyes to the sight of burned kids and whose ears are deaf to the screaming of relatives who lost all their dear ones in the targeted mass killing of whole families by the most sophisticated western air force?

But, as I have the sickening privilege to read intensively the Zionist media, there are some things that I may better explain…

The Ultimate Goal

One of the best Zionist writers that I follow recently is Uri Misgav from Haaretz. At the beginning of the latest attack on Gaza he declared that Israel already failed, because it started a military operation without any conceived goal that can be achieved. But he failed to read the writing on the wall. The Israeli politicians had a very clear goal that the mob was chanting in all the “demonstrations” that prepared for the rampage: “Ma-vet la-a-ra-vim!” – “Death to the Arabs”.

When the Zionist mob gets out of control in the streets of Jerusalem – hunting the city’s cleaners and falafel sellers to beat and lynch – the Zionist law and order authorities and respectable media have a common phrase to hold them back: “Don’t take the law into your own hands”.

Israel is a Jewish Democracy and its politician should give their electorate what they want.

But it is not only electoral considerations and populism that make Israeli politicians complete to excel in propagating racist hatred and bath in the heroism of spilling Arab blood. It is the only real political plan in the country. While talking about political solutions, the Zionist still stick to their original goal: “A country without people to a people without a country”. They still systematically act in all legal and illegal means for ethnic cleansing in the Galilee and the Naqab as well as in Al-Quds and the rest of the West Bank. But expropriating the land doesn’t solve the Zionists main problem – the existence of the Palestinian people and their constant struggle to live as free people on their land. So they keep coming back to the ultimate solution: “Death to the Arabs!”Protesting Genocide in Gaza

 

Killing Time

General Schwarzkopf once said it is not worth the while to hold a bulldog if you don’t let it loose from time to time. For a long time Israel didn’t really needed a complete policy – it was pushing for a new attack until the rope was loosened to let her go after its victims. Then her master could hold it back for a nice profit for itself and throw a fat bone to the dog.

Till now, in all Israeli thinking about the politics behind the military rampage, the main task of the politicians and diplomats is to “buy time” for the military to act.

The Israeli generals and politicians are now looking to find how loose the rope is. Yesterday they bombed two UNRWA schools where Gaza families found shelter after they were expelled from their homes by previous bombings. Today they bombed another hospital, killing patients in their beds. They also successfully targeted a Palestinian ambulance, killing and wounding members of the medical team. The daily death toll in Gaza is now more than 100.

Of course, according to their military-technical potential, they could kill as many Palestinians as they like. But they need some justification, and they are somewhat afraid to be brought to justice for their war crimes. This was the logic behind the entrance of the ground forces into Gaza. Some spilling of Israeli blood and the need to protect their soldiers was the best justification for much wider massacres of the Palestinians. Now the fairy tales about the need to destroy Gaza “terror tunnels” is used to buy time for more killing spree.

The Brakes are Broken

Historically Zionism and Israel were used by the different imperialist forces to subdue the Arab national movement. Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, declared that 90% percent of the cards are in America’s hands – before throwing away any semblance of national independence and remaking his country into a colony.

At those times the break on Israel’s atrocities was the famous “anger of the Arab street” – the fear of imperialism that mass struggle aroused in solidarity with the Palestinians will put in danger their servile Arab regimes.

Now, after the Arab spring of 2011, the Arab anger is no more a frightening potential… Currently the war for democracy and freedom in the Arab world and the Middle East have so many hot fronts and so many internal contradictions that there is nobody to turn to.

The dearest strategic asset for the US – the Egyptian regime – is a special case. It used to be an authoritative regime that tried to have national and international respectability. Now it is a counter-revolution in the making, fighting the Egyptian people in the streets and competing with Israel in inciting against the Palestinians.

The western regimes and much of its media seem completely undisturbed to justify any war crimes on the side of Israel as “self defense”.

More than ever – we need the world’s people to make a stand and stop the killing.

Gaza Burning

 

Israeli mob attacks anti-war demo in Haifa chanting “Death to the Arabs”

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An Eyewitness Account of the Haifa Anti-War Demonstration, 19th/20th July 2014

Published by Rann Bar-On on his Facebook timeline

July 20, 2014 at 3:45pm

(This report is also available in Hebrew)

I’m going to try to write up what I saw, heard, and experienced at the anti-war demonstration in the Carmel Center, Haifa on Saturday, July 19th2014. This was a difficult and traumatizing experience, one of the worst I have faced in over a decade of activism. Please forgive rough writing. This is my point of view, and as such, is clouded. I can only write what I saw and experienced. All times are approximate.

9pm, opposite Ha’Agala Burekas restaurant, Moria Ave, Haifa: my partner and I are in my parents’ car, heading to the demonstration that is supposed to start at this location at 9:30. As we drive up, we see a huge police presence, including armored horses, a water cannon and hundreds of police. Getting closer, we see what they’re there for: over a thousand right wing counter-protestors have showed up, chanting, waving Israeli and army flags, calling the left ‘traitors’.

9:05pm: We call the organizers, in a half-panic. We’re told that the demo has been moved a few hundred yards down the street, nearer the Carmel Center. As we’re walking, I see a policeman shoving a man with a sign supporting the left. He’s bleeding. We later find out he was punched in the face by one of the right wingers.

9:10pm, at the entrance to the Kababir neighborhood, Moria Ave: we arrive at the new site for the demonstration. We’re practically alone with a ton of heavily armored police. At this stage, it seems utterly irresponsible to encourage people to march. Being outnumbered doesn’t begin to describe the situation we were in. We head off to a nearby restaurant for a few minutes.

9:20pm: People are trickling in. I walk around, trying to explain to folks there what I saw down the street (most people came from a different direction). I’ve been an activist for many years, and have attended hundreds of demonstrations. From experience, we can deal with the police, almost no matter what they do. We can’t deal with huge numbers violent counter-demonstrators out to kill us. A sense of bewilderment seems to be the dominant theme.

9:25pm: The main organizers ask us to move people into the adjacent park. I ask people to do so, and for the most part, they do. At this point, many counter-demonstrators have moved to stand opposite us, and are being held back by the police. Chants of “Death to Arabs”, “Death to traitors” and “Death to leftists” come from the other side of the street. Their numbers are swelling, fast.

9:30pm: We’re asked to move back onto the sidewalk from the park, as the police say they cannot protect us in the park. With all that’s going on, much of this gets lost.

9:45pm: Our side is swelling, but the other side is swelling faster. There are supposed to be buses arriving from other parts of the country. We chant slogans for unity: “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies”; “Both in Gaza and in Sderot, children want to live”; “Peace isn’t built on children’s bodies”; “Gaza, stand strong, we’ll end the Occupation yet”; and many more. Banners are raised. Red flags and Palestinians flags are waving. The other side is jumping up and down, singing nationalist songs, waving Israeli and army brigade flags, all the time pushing against the police line. Our side does not at all push against the police. There’s no point: if the line were to be broken, we’d be facing a raving mob head on.

10pm: Buses should be arriving from other parts of the country. They do not. We get word that the police has blocked buses of our supporters from coming.

10:05pm: One bus arrives, barely. It takes a long few minutes for the police to get the bus through the right wing folks. When they pull up, I go over to greet them. Turns out it was a bus from Nazareth. Our ranks are swelled a bit more. Still, we’re outnumbered, by a long shot.

Over the next thirty minutes or so, one more bus arrives. We found out much later that four buses were blocked completely by the police.

10:45pm: By now, a few small scuffles have broken out between police and the counter-demonstrators. A couple of them are arrested. Chanting keeps up on both sides. We shout for life, they shout for death. I stay as close to the front as I can, right up to the police line. Tempers flare here and there.

As a Jewish Israeli, it’s very very difficult for me to even consider trying to hold back Arab protesters. It isn’t my place. They have so much more to be angry about than I do. Our privilege, being identified by the state as being Jewish, is huge. Yet I seem to have taken on a role of responsibility, together with my Arab friends. This is a tough paragraph to write. I don’t want to appear arrogant. Yet it seemed at the time that all our efforts were appreciated by those trying to keep others from getting badly hurt.

10:50pm: A couple of demonstrators from our side get snatched by police and arrested, violently. Looking across the street, I see murder gleaming in the eyes of the fascists. I don’t use that word lightly, but when a huge gang is quite literally calling for us to be killed, it’s appropriate, I think.

Much later, we find out that a few of our folks found themselves attacked by the right. One broken nose, one broken shoulder. Maybe more.

A few bottles are thrown on us. Nothing much, at least not compared to what was to come later.

11pm: Someone decides to move into the neighborhood, away from the main street. People are terrified, as the counter-demonstrators are still swelling and getting closer. In principle, this should be the end of the demonstration. The police allow some of the counter-demonstrators across the street, near the bus. Other police try to herd some of our side onto the bus. The bus is headed back to another town. Police barely manage to get it out.

11:20pm: We’re trying to disperse. Outside of the West Bank, where protests are suppressed with heavy crowd-control measures, I’ve never been to a demonstration where the hardest part is leaving. A group of folks from Tel Aviv ask us to help them, to take them through the backstreets to where their bus is. They can’t find all their people. We stand with them in a courtyard, with people trying to get through the back the building. Suddenly, they come running back, shouting that the rightists are coming from behind. Across the narrow side street, many of them have moved opposite us, shouting and gesturing. Police are barely to be seen.

11:30pm: We move to the corner of the next street. There are around 100 of us left at this point, as many somehow managed to escape, perhaps on a bus, perhaps in small groups on foot. We can’t tell. My partner and I agree that we’re not leaving until everyone is safe. All three opposite corners, and quite a way down the streets, are covered with our opposition. It’s a terrifying scene. We’re surrounded. Police are hanging out in the middle, looking utterly clueless. Their horses and heavy machinery are nowhere to be seen. For only the second time in my life, I’m wishing for police protection.

11:40pm: Stones start flying toward us. Not many, but large. We have older folks with us, some over 70. We use the sticks holding our flags to try to deflect the stones like baseballs. A few hit people. People are bleeding. Police look almost as scared as we are, and still, they do almost nothing to help us get the hell out. They have helmets. Needless to say, we do not.

This doesn’t stop. We chant those same slogans for unity: “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies”. It seems so damn empty at this point, facing hundreds of Zionist Jews who want to see us dead. Not in jail. Dead.

I talk to a few people. The word ‘pogrom’ starts being whispered. These are highly experienced folks, for the most part,who do not use such words lightly.

Midnight: A policeman tells us to stand back. In his words “there is going to be a mess here”. A water cannon shows up. Armored police horses show up. I find myself almost relieved. When the water cannon is shot right at one of the bunches of right wingers, a cheer goes up from our side. Myself and few others shout at them to stay quiet: “We do NOT cheer police, ever!”

More stones. More chants for murder. We’re still trapped. A few people try to push out to escape the hell we’re in. They are pushed back by police and counter-demonstrators.

12:15am, July20th: The police try to get us out. People are throwing stones at us. Again, not many, but they’re coming from all sides, including the buildings we’re passing by. Police run into building entrances, pushing back those trying to attack us. They’re barely successful.

I hear shouts and run toward them. I see one of our people on the ground, bleeding from his head. Police try to push us forward. A couple of us tell them, trying to be calm, that we have someone injured. A policeman says “fine, leave him there”. We do nothing of the sort. We pick him up. He’s ok, somehow. Adrenaline, I suppose.

12:30am: We’re still half walking half running down the street, surrounded by police. It’s a bit calmer, but the counter-demonstrators (perhaps, by now, rioters) are still not far behind us. We find ourselves at a traffic circle. Two police commanders are arguing about what to do. All we want is to get a bus. They keep changing up where they want the bus to be. I overhear one commander telling the other that there are another hundred rightists coming down the street. They do not know what to do. They order us further down the hill.

12:35am: The sidewalk ends on our side. Police tell us to get into the shadows. I hear one of them ordering a bus sent to us, empty, as fast as possible. Nothing happens, everyone is exhausted. They seem to holding back the counter-demonstrators up the street.

12:45am:A public bus is passing by with around six people aboard. Police stop the bus, tell everyone on it to leave, and shout at us to get on. We can’t believe this: the police have literally commandeered a bus. It takes a while, but we all get on. Eighty people packed like sardines onto a bus that holds fifty. The bus moves up the hill to turn around. As it does, it’s hit with a rock thrown at it.

12:50am: We start singing. People sing and laugh as the adrenaline starts to decline. We feel safe, for the first time in hours.

1am: As we head toward the shore, where another bus is waiting for us, a car covered with an Israeli flag pulls up. The driver shouts and gestures at us. This is our first hint that it’s not over yet. Some still feel safe enough to flash V for victory signs at him.

1:05am: We pull into the parking lot behind the beach restaurant, Maxim. We get off the bus. We wonder where the next bus will take us. One of the organizers tells us to get on, and we’ll sort that out later. The water cannon truck pulls in behind us, with a number of police vans.

1:15am: We’re on the bus, and we’re moving out of the parking lot. The police accompaniment leaves. We’re alone. Suddenly, we hear two or three rocks hitting the bus. Two windows are shattered. We push the broken glass out onto the street to avoid the pieces flying in due to wind and hitting passengers. The broken windows make the bus windy, full of fresh air. We’re tense, but we’re safe.

1:20am: The bus pulls up near the Haifa headquarters of the Hadash party, one of the main organizers. As we disembark, we take photos of the youth making victory signs out the broken windows. We’re safe.

1:30am: We go to headquarters to debrief, post reports, and decide on next steps. At some point later, my partner and I go get some food and drinks for ourselves and our friends.

2:30am: We head to the police station to wait for the eight arrested to be released. A somewhat surreal scene occurs when we encounter a demonstrator from the other side, doing the same. No tempers flare.

4:30am: After two hours of waiting, talking, trying to understand what happened and why, our prisoners are released unconditionally. We applaud.

We go home. We sleep.

We were lucky: one stone an inch to one side or another, and someone would have died. Quite a few people were injured. One broken nose; one shattered shoulder. One demonstrator hit in the head by police. Who knows what else?

We live to fight another day.

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Call for Acre Demo against evictions, Friday 25/4

Call for Acre Demo against evictions, Friday 25/4

Ramiya’s Friends Group

Calling to participate in the Acre demonstration

Against eviction if the family of Salwa Zeidan

On Friday 25/04/2014 at 13:00

66 years after the Nakba and the expulsion of the majority of Palestine’s inhabitants, the various governmental agencies continue to lay out plots to uproot the Arab residents from their land and homes in the Negev, the Triangle, the Galilee and the mixed cities.

Haja Um Ahmed, Salwa Zeidan, lives with her family for fifty years at their home in “Alborg” neighborhood – near the eastern gate of Old Acre. In these days “The Acre Development Authority” is trying to evict the family as part of a range of programs and measures to “Judaize” the old city of Acre… We have not forgotten how in 2008 city council members in Acre spoke openly and brazenly about the need to maintain a Jewish majority, what provoked the anger of the Palestinian Arabs of Acre and many others.

Ramiya’s Friends Group was formed several months ago to speak out against the plan to expel the people of the village of Ramiya from the land of their ancestors. The authorities want to grab this land to build a new Jewish neighborhood for expanding Karmiel as part of the “Development of the Galilee”, a code name for Judaization. The group organizes various activities to stop the racist policies to preserve the Jewish character of Karmiel, in support of the struggle for the right of Ramiya’s people to build and live in dignity as residents with full rights in the city.

Our struggle for Ramiya continues in support of the steadfast of its people in the most difficult conditions and despite repeated harassment against them on the part of the municipality of Karmiel. We know that the struggle against apartheid and ethnic cleansing is one struggle in all the places where Arab residents are persecuted and discriminated against in this country.

Therefore we invite the public to participate in a demonstration against the Judaization of Acre and against the dispossession of its Arab residents to be held on Friday, 25.4.2014, at 13:00. The demonstration will begin at one o’clock in the afternoon from near Um Ahmad’s home, near the eastern gate of Old Acre, after Friday’s prayers at the “Alborg” mosque nearby. We will march together towards the offices of “The Acre Development Authority” which is responsible for the eviction orders.

Ramiya’s Friends Group

Ramiya4ever@gmail.com

Facebook invitation for the demonstration

Ramiya’s Friends on Facebook

This call is available also in Arabic and Hebrew.

 

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How did Israel’s Shabak made Majd Kayyal disappear?

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How did Israel’s Shabak make Majd Kayyal disappear?

On Saturday, April 12, “Adalah” – the most respected Human Rights NGO in Haifa – published “breaking news” about the detention of political and media activist, journalist Majd Kayyal, who happened to be also the editor of Adalah’s internet site. Majd was arrested at a border crossing from Jordan called “Sheikh Hussein” on the Jordan River, immediately on his arrival to the Israeli checkpoint. He was on his way back from Beirut, where he participated in a public conference held on the occasion of 40 years of the newspaper “Al-Safir”, in which he regularly publishes articles.

Adalah reported that its lawyer tried to meet Majd in detention, but the police didn’t allow this, claiming that there is an order prohibiting Majd from meeting lawyers. Adalah further noted in its statement that its lawyers will represent Majd on the next day, Sunday, 13.4, in hearings of the police request to remand the detention.

Adalah’s short message about Majd’s detention ends with an optimistic note promising further details…

According to foreign sources…

Since the initial announcement of Majd’s detention, Adalah didn’t publish any further details.

Instead, we read on their site general discussions concerning the law that forbids Israeli citizens from visiting “enemy countries” and the law that allows the authorities to prevent a detainee meeting his lawyers. No names, no details, no Majd. Yesterday he was detained and today he disappeared, as if he never existed.

You could think that Majd was released… After all, hundreds of people are arrested every day for little or no reason by the Israeli police and most of them are released without anyone writing a word.

Searching the net for Majd Kayyal in Hebrew brings very little fresh news. A site called “KafeHafukh” (White Coffee) reported (Tuesday 15.4) that in the routine briefing at the US State Department, the speaker Ms. Psaki expressed concern about reports on the arrest of journalist Majd Kayyal. She added: “We have seen the reports… that he’s being held incommunicado detention, but we have not been able to confirm these reports. We’re continuing to seek more information”.

If the State Department can’t determine the facts despite their “concern” – how would we discover what happened to Majd?

The couple of magic buttons leads us to search in English for “Majd Kayyal” and we can easily find Ali Abunimah’s report in “Electronic Intifada”. It says that the Haifa Court extended Majd’s detention from Sunday, 13.4, until next Tuesday, 22.4. Electronic Intifada even publishes a protocol of the court’s hearing in Hebrew and English. From this protocol we learn that the court prevented any publication about the proceedings against Majd and that Majd is still prevented from meeting his lawyers.

Another reliable source, journalist Richard Silverstein in his site “Tikun Olam”, also publishes details about Majd’s detention and a photograph of the police’s request for GAG order.

We also learn that the judge who extended the detention and ordered the “disappearance” of Majd is Zayed Falah, a former military prosecutor.

About Majd

To be honest with my readers, I must clarify that I know personally Majd Kayyal as a neighbor and a family friend ever since he came to this world some 23 years ago…

He is the son of prominent proud Palestinians activists from Haifa.

The Kayyal family was displaced from their ancestors’ village of Birwa when it was occupied and destroyed in 1948. Birwa is well known as the birthplace of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. On its ruins was established the Zionist settlement of “Akhihud”, while the original inhabitants are forbidden from returning to their lands.

Majd’s cousin, Asil ‘Asli, was killed by the Israeli police in the second Intifada demonstrations in October 2000 in the Galilee village of Arabeh. He was one of the 13 Arab demonstrators murdered in the territories occupied by Israel since 1948 at the first days of the Intifada. Their killing symbolizes for many the unity of fate of the Palestinians in their struggle against Zionist occupation and apartheid.

Majd grew into political activity and we often met in many demonstrations: On Land Day, in the days commemorating the events of October 2000, in protests against the demolition of homes and land confiscation, in solidarity activities with Palestinian prisoners.

In the commemoration of the Nakba on May 15, 2011, we were detained together in a demonstration in Bir’am forest, just in front of the village of Maroun Ar-Ras on the other side of the Lebanese border, where a peaceful “March of Return” of Palestinian refugees from Lebanon met with murderous fire of the Israeli army.

Majd was arrested in November 2011 with the crew of the ship “Tahrir”, which was on its way to Gaza with humanitarian supplies as part of the campaign to break the siege.

Majd is an example of the new generation of young Palestinian activists, sharing his time between Internet activities on more traditional ones in the streets. He finds time for creative writing and journalism, the struggle for human rights and the struggle for national and social liberation.

He was among the activists who organized the opposition to the “Prawer plan” for ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of Bedouin from the Naqab (Negev) and the destruction of dozens of villages. When news came of the cancellation of that plan (at least temporarily) I saw him full of happiness and satisfaction.

No wonder the police and Shabak (GSS) are looking for an opportunity to shut up Majd. His mother, Suhair Badarne, told us that in one recent “interview” with the Shabak in Haifa the interrogator warned her they were planning to frame Majd and have him imprisoned for a long period.

The Forces of Darkness

The evil forces prefer to operate in the dark. Majd is held now, as far as we know, in the damp and dark cellars of the “GSS Division” at the Jalameh detention center (“Kishon”), isolated from the outside world. The steamroller of repressive mechanisms is applied upon him in order to force him to confess of crimes he did not commit.

It’s the only reasonable explanation for preventing him from meeting his lawyers, for the prevention of even eye contact with his family during the remand proceedings, for the sweeping publication ban on details of the proceedings against him (all according to foreign sources, of course).

If the investigation was about the offense of entering an “enemy country” – it could be held in the open and wouldn’t even require detention, as Majd traveled openly to Lebanon to attend a public event. He also reported himself on his experiences in Beirut, among other places in a post (in Arabic, of course) on “Jadaliyya”.

Many Israeli journalists visited all “enemy countries” and reported their trips without being arrested or punished. If Majd Kayyal is detained and persecuted because of his trip to Lebanon – the problem is not of Lebanon being an “enemy country” but the attitude of the State of Israel regarding all the Palestinian people in the country as enemies.

The total blackout imposed on Majd would not be possible were it not for the indifference, consent and naturalness with which Israeli public opinion accepts the denial of basic human rights of any Arab, just for being an Arab. A journalist, a human rights activist, a political activist is detained for a prolonged period while GAG is imposed and he is denied meeting his lawyers. These are draconian measures that make mock of the thin veneer of proclaimed democracy.

The Forces of Light

A group of Anarchists named “Unity” called for a demonstration on Wednesday (16.4) morning in front of the offices of “Haaretz” newspaper in Tel Aviv to protest the non-publication of the affair and attract media attention to it. They planned to shift the vigil later in front of police and Shabak offices nearby, to demand the immediate release of Majd and cessation of political persecution against him and against the Palestinians in general.

Majd’s friends are planning a demonstration on Thursday, 17.4, at 19:30, in “Prisoner’s Square”, Carmel Avenue (Ben Gurion) near the Haddad hotel in the German Colony in Haifa. Another demonstration is planned outside the courthouse in case the police will apply for remand on Tuesday (22.4) morning.

Public struggle can at least remove the veil of secrecy over human rights violations against Majd Kayyal. Help us in this struggle.

This post was originally published in Hebrew.

Hot News

(Wednesday 16.4, 18:00) Under the pressure of protest and publications here and abroad, the police informed Adalah that the GAG order over Majd’s detention will be removed tomorrow (Thursday, 17.4) at 12:00.

You may freely write and demonstrate about the case, demand Majd’s release and protest the fact that he is prevented from meeting his lawyers!

Good News

(Thursday 17.4, morning) The public pressure helped – Thanks to all of you who took part in lifting the veil of darkness by protesting and publishing! This night Adalah lawyers were at last allowed to meet Majd Kayyal.

Now we demand Majd’s immediate release. See you in the demo today at 19:30 in the German Colony, Haifa.

Even Better News

(Thursday 17.4, 17:30) Majd was released from the Jelemeh detention center and is now under house detention…

Thanks again to everybody that published and protested!

There was no legal justification for Majd’s detention in the first place – and it couldn’t stand even 5 hours of public scrutiny.

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