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Scottish Friends of Palestine Briefing Paper February 2015

Scottish Friends of Palestine Briefing Paper
February 2015

The genius of Israeli evil: it poses as concern Amira Hass Haaretz 27/10/14


How to murder human beings without using an explosive or a knife, how to empty them from within, how to steal from workers of the land the thing they hold most dear — Israeli evil is not at all banal. Abundant in inventions and innovations as well as in age-old techniques, it trickles like water and bursts out from hidden places. But unlike floods, it does not reach an end, and it affects some while being invisible, undetectable and non-existent for others. The genius of Israeli evil is in its ability to disguise itself as compassion and concern (thus providing Bernard-Henri Lévy and Elie Wiesel with yet another opportunity to praise the Jewish state in widely-read essays). Take, for example, the inventive technique of Israeli agriculture: two to five days per year of cultivating the land. A shmita (sabbatical) for land every year, instead of remaining idle every seven years. It does so 360 days each year. Our compassionate and generous army allows tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank to work their land for only three or four or five days per year in order to protect them from attacks by Israelis, colonizers, settlers – in short, Jews. For the rest of the year, the land is a mirage. Take, for instance, the village of Deir el-Hatab. The settlement of Elon Moreh and its outposts dominate about half of its 12,000 dunams (some 3,000 acres). Because of the proximity to the settlement, the village’s farmers are not permitted to cultivate about 6,000 dunams of their land, nor are they permitted to walk there, graze flocks, rotate crops, plow, weed, watch birds or transmit their family’s accumulated knowledge to the young generation. They may go there only two or three days a year to pick the olives that Allah made to sprout with his rain and that unknown Israelis did not manage to steal.
Evil also excels at being patient. It knows that land whose owners do not access it for 360 days a year does not disappear. It becomes, de facto, land belonging to the master who loves nature and hikes and grazing flocks, just as our ancestors did … Add in the spring of Deir el-Hatab, the water source that the grandmothers of the village’s grandmothers enjoyed and used. It has now become a pool for ritual immersion and a place to relax for Jews only, by the side of the Palestinian-free road leading to Elon Moreh. Multiply it by dozens more springs that have suffered a similar fate….

Father finds five-month-old son frozen to death in Gaza Gaza Strip 20/01/15


A grieving father has recounted to NBC News how his five-month-old son froze to death after the family’s Gaza home was bombed by Israel. Sami Abu Khesi is among the Palestinians who have yet to rebuild in the wake of last summer’s conflict which left more than 2,100 people dead. His son, Wadie, was born in Gaza’s Nasser Hospital as fighting raged between Hamas militants and Israeli forces on August 15. After the cease-fire, Wadie was brought home. But amid the worst winter weather in years, Wadie was found dead on January 15. “His mother was nudging but there was no life,” Khesi said in what remains of his home in Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighborhood, some walls nothing more than scrap metal and nylon sheets. “So I looked at the boy and he was frozen. She woke me up and I found that he was frozen.”
The Gaza Ministry of Health has not issued an official cause of death, but the family believes it was hypothermia. Relatives say he had previously been in good health. The ministry has confirmed four children have died as a result of hypothermia this winter … “We have never seen a winter like this,” said Khesi, whose two other daughters, Jannat and Suna, remain bundled up in heavy clothes even when inside. “It has been cold in the past, but at least we could put them in homes to protect them. Now, there is nothing to put them in. All we have is nylon.”

‘They look like they’re in a war zone, but what they’re aiming at is five-year-olds’ ISM, Khalil Team 31/12/14


By 10:30 am on Tuesday morning of December 30, Palestinian children attending school near Qeitun checkpoint in al-Khalil (Hebron) had endured over forty tear gas canisters, multiple rounds of rubber coated steel bullets and stun grenades, and the arrest of a twelve-year-old boy. Israeli forces fired down the road leading from the checkpoint to the schools, filling the street adjacent to the schools with a choking cloud of gas and preventing Palestinians walking through the checkpoint from continuing down the street.
As it is exam season in al-Khalil’s schools, children were attempting to reach school between seven and eight am and leaving again between nine thirty and eleven. Israeli military forces kept up a sporadic barrage of fire from the time some children were still walking to school until after school finished, forcing anyone traveling in either direction to brave whistling tear gas canisters and the dizzying smoke which still lingered even after the shooting had halted. Early in the morning, Israeli occupation forces grabbed the twelve-year-old near the checkpoint, accusing him of throwing stones. Eyewitnesses present at the scene denied the accusation. After they took the young boy away to the police station, Israeli army and border police advanced further down the road away from the checkpoint, heavily armed with tear gas, stun grenades, and the long rifles used for firing rubber coated steel bullets. Sometimes they fired systematically, setting off five or more rounds of tear gas at a time; at other times it seemed bizarrely random, as when a single border policeman would suddenly run up the street and fire off a tear gas grenade at the distant crowd of children.

Palestinian 14 year old girl handcuffed in court PIC 19/01/15

Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) brought a 14-year-old Palestinian girl to Ofer military court to stand trial with both her hands and feet shackled. Ahrar Center for Prisoners Studies and Human Rights said, in a statement on Monday, that Ofer military court deferred the trial of the child Malak al-Khatib from Ramallah because of the absence of the prosecution. The father of Malak said she was brought to court handcuffed and foot-shackled. He noted that the health condition of his daughter is worsening due to the extreme cold in Hasharon prison. The IOA charged Malak with throwing stones and having a knife, the father added, expressing surprise at the charge. Malak’s father expressed the concerns and worries of the family about their girl for being detained in Israeli jail, and asked human rights organizations and Detainees and Ex-Detainees Committee to intervene immediately to end the unjustified detention of Malak. He also said the family had previously appealed to the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to work on releasing her. The IOA is still holding the Palestinian child captive for twenty successive days during which she attended four court hearings.

Palestinian children describe solitary confinement in Israeli military prison
Samer Badawi Defense for Children International Palestine 20/12/14


“I won’t move until I say goodbye to my mother.” For speaking these words, Diyaa was knocked to the floor of his family home, kicked, and beaten by Israeli soldiers who, two weeks earlier, had done the same to his two friends. It was 3 am, and Diyaa’s parents could only watch as their 16-year-old son was dragged to an army jeep, blindfolded, and — like thousands of Palestinian children before him — forced into a military detention center in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. What happened next, according to affidavits given by Diyaa and his friends, fits a pattern of Israeli abuse designed to coerce confessions from Palestinian children. Among the most troubling of their experiences were prolonged periods of solitary confinement, a correctional tactic usually reserved for adult prisoners — and, even then, only after they are convicted. “Although it’s true that, in the United States, children and juvenile offenders are sometimes held in solitary confinement — either as a disciplinary measure or to separate them from adult populations — in Israeli military detention, Palestinian children are held in solitary confinement for interrogation purposes,” said Brad Parker, international advocacy officer and attorney for DCI-Palestine … “The interrogator said that my friend Thabet accused me in his statement of throwing stones with him at a settler car, that the car overturned and the passengers were injured. I told him that was not true, and that I was at the local supermarket when I heard about the incident.” Diyaa’s friend Thabet, it turns out, had just admitted to stoning a car carrying residents of an illegal settlement near his hometown of Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. But the 16-year-old’s “confession” came after four days of solitary confinement and abuse, culminating in a threat so terrifying that Thabet immediately agreed to whatever charges had been leveled against him. According to Thabet, an Israeli interrogator told him: “If you don’t confess, I’ll have both of your parents arrested, brought here to this room, and killed.”

What does preventing a wedding have to do with Israel’s security? Khaled Amayreh
PIC 9/10/14 Http://
Yes, I would like to receive an honest and convincing answer to my frustrating question. What does preventing a Hebron fiancée from being wed to her Gaza fiancé have to do with Israeli security? Does it constitute a security risk? Does it compromise Israeli security in any real manner? In recent months, I have left no stone unturned in order to obtain a real answer to my question from Israeli officials, but to no avail. Yes, I heard all sorts of prevarication and mendacious justifications and pretexts to justify the unjustifiable. My daughter Azhar, 19, was engaged to Abdullah Abu Allaban, 23, from Jabalya in the Gaza Strip last year. Their marriage certificate was officiated at the Islamic Sharia court in Dura near Hebron where we live. Ever since, she has been trying in vain to travel the 30 mile-distance from Hebron to Gaza to join her husband. (It is like the distance between Oklahoma City and Norman).
We contacted the civil administration of the Israeli occupation and army and were told to contact the Palestinian Authority (PA) liaison office. However, when we did, we were told that the PA had no authority or power over these matters. At the Israeli liaison office, a young female soldier told us rather sarcastically to “see Mahmoud Abbas, perhaps he could help you,” Mahmoud Abbas is the helpless chief of the helpless entity known as the Palestinian Authority. He is always at Israel’s beck and call. My daughter and her fiancé have never been involved in any wrong doing or security violations. However, Israel is so notorious for invoking the security mantra to justify denying Palestinians their basic rights….

Israel issues demolition order for home of synagogue attackers Ma’an 20/11/14


Israeli police on Thursday issued demolition orders for the home of two Palestinian suspects who killed five Israelis this week in a Jerusalem synagogue. Ghassan Abu Jamal and his cousin Uday, from the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of East Jerusalem, entered a synagogue armed with a gun, meat cleavers, and knives and killed five Israelis on Nov. 18. The Abu Jamal family said that police summoned Ghassan’s wife and the parents of Uday to an Israeli police station in the neighborhood and issued demolition orders to the families. They have 48 hours to appeal the decision in Israeli courts. Uday’s father passed out after a heated argument with Israeli police officers and was taken to hospital for treatment. The bodies of Ghassan and Uday are still in Israeli custody.
On Wednesday, Israeli forces demolished the Silwan home of Abd al-Rahman al-Shaludi, who killed two Israelis after driving into civilians in Jerusalem last month. The demolition is one of at least six orders issued by the Israeli government to destroy the homes of the families’ of Palestinians who attacked Israelis. On Sunday, Israeli rights group B’Tselem said that punitive house demolitions are “fundamentally wrong” and contravene “basic moral standards by punishing people for the misdeeds of others.”

The future of Dr. A., an Israeli Arab physician, is the future of Israel Gideon Levy
Haaretz 23/11/14 Http://
When Ashkelon says to fire all its Arab construction workers only because of their origin, the day is coming when the hospitals will dismiss Arab doctors. Some Israelis have wanted to do this for a long time now — She hides her name. She wears an ID card around her neck as required but it’s usually stuffed in her pocket, seemingly carelessly. Dr. A., a resident in one of the leading medical centers in the center of the country, goes around her department with an unclear identity. She was accepted for her residency in a highly desirable specialty, under a well-known and widely respected department head, and yet she feels it would be better if she concealed her name. Her accent doesn’t give up her identity, her beauty and charm are captivating, and she makes her rounds among the beds of the sick, caring for them devotedly and expertly, usually keeping her secret to herself.
Dr. A. should be an all-Israeli physician. She was educated at Jewish schools, her parents live in a wealthy Jewish community, Hebrew is her first language. Her sister is also a resident in a large hospital in central Israel and the two of them share an apartment in old north Tel Aviv. Their little sister is studying medicine at the Technion in Haifa. Their parents did everything so their children would succeed in their country. When I met her for the first time by chance in the hallway of her department, she burst out crying. It was at the height of Operation Protective Edge and she was dismayed over the scenes from Gaza, torn between her people and her country. Dr. A. never lost her dignity and her identity, and she wants to live here, in her country. Her chances of doing so are disappearing. It seems to me that she knows it. Meanwhile, she hides her name to save herself the despicable comments of patients and their families.
Twilight Zone: Injury, then insult, at the hands of the Israel army Gideon Levy & Alex Levac
Haaretz 28/11/14 Http://
IDF soldiers fired four rounds at Ahmed Hassouna, leaving the young man from Beitunia paralyzed. Then it turned out they were looking for someone else — The last of the guests left at 2 A.M., and Ahmed Hassouna was going downstairs to close the gates to the house. Before that, he had driven some of the guests home to the nearby Al-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah. Members of the family had gathered to celebrate the birthday of Ahmed’s nephew. His sister, Nagham, was now following him down the stairs carrying a bag of garbage. She was asking Ahmed to open the wicket in the back of the house, so she could throw the refuse into the garbage bin on the street, before he locked up for the night. Nagham is going down the stairs, Ahmed is waiting out on the street, next to the garbage bin. It’s 2 A.M. on Wednesday, November 12, in the town of Beitunia, on the outskirts of Ramallah. The burst of gunfire was sudden and short. Hassouna says now that he didn’t notice the Israel Defense Forces soldiers hiding behind the bin on the street. He adds that he heard no warning, either. Apparently, four rounds were fired at him – from a distance of three to four meters.
Three bullets struck Hassouna, two in his legs. The third slammed into his hip, penetrated his spine and wreaked havoc. Since that night, he’s been hospitalized, with both legs paralyzed. He may never walk again. Hassouna, 20, had been working in the family’s auto-parts business. His father has a standing entry permit to Israel, as a merchant; the family does not involve itself in politics or the Palestinian struggle. They are 1948 refugees from Lod, who moved to the relatively affluent town of Beitunia a few years ago, after decades in the Al-Amari camp. Their comparatively tranquil life was shattered on that night, two weeks ago … To date, no one from the IDF has contacted the family – not to explain, not to investigate, much less to apologize. A relative, Maha Hassouna, the secretary of the Hadash party faction in the Knesset and a resident of Lod, says she is appalled that no one is taking responsibility for the mistaken shooting.

Israel revokes residency of Jerusalem attacker’s widow Al-Akhbar/AFP/Ma‘an 27/11/15


Israel on Wednesday revoked the residency rights of the widow of a Palestinian who carried out a deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, drawing condemnation from human rights groups. “I have ordered the cancellation of Nadia Abu Jamal’s permit to stay in Israel. Anyone who is involved in terror must take into account that there are likely to be implications for their family members too,” Israeli Interior Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement. Cousins Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir, were shot dead by Israeli police after storming a synagogue with meat cleavers and a gun and killing four Zionist rabbis and an Israeli policeman on November 18. The statement said Nadia had been granted residency in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian land annexed by Israel in a move never recognized by the international community, under a “family reunification” clause allowing residents of the Israeli-occupied territories to stay with spouses who hold either Israeli citizenship or permanent residency.
The move came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday that the Israeli government is to seek powers to strip 1948 Palestinians or Palestinian residents of Jerusalem of their residency and welfare rights if they or their relatives participate in or incited violence, even stone-throwing. “It cannot be that those who attack Israeli citizens and call for the elimination of the State of Israel will enjoy rights such as National Insurance – and their family members as well, who support them,” Netanyahu told ministers during a cabinet meeting.”This law is important in order to exact a price from those who engage in attacks and incitement, including the throwing of stones and firebombs,” his office quoted him as saying.
Israeli rights group B’Tselem slammed the decision to revoke Abu Jamal’s residency permit. “We object to this measure. It’s abuse of a minister’s authority and a form of collective punishment,” spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli told AFP. “She isn’t accused of any harm, and the revoking of her residency status will actually mean she will be banished from her home and thrown out of the city she lives in,” she said.”Residency and social benefits … aren’t gifts or favors the authorities bestow and can then take away. They’re essential aspects of people’s existence,” Michaeli said.
Meanwhile in a statement on Sunday, Erdan confirmed he had cancelled the permanent residence of Mahmoud Nadi, who served a 10 year prison sentence for driving a man responsible for a 2001 bombing at a Tel Aviv nightclub. The decision, which was communicated to Nadi in a letter sent by Erdan, involves cancellation of Nadi’s entry in the population registry and the revocation of his blue Israeli ID card, and means he will no longer be eligible to receive any social benefits, such as national insurance or health insurance. The so-called “blue ID” is an Israeli identification card issued by the interior ministry that entitles holders to national insurance and freedom of movement throughout the country.

West Bank Bedouin fighting Israel’s plan for forcible relocation Ha’aretz 3/12/14


Twenty-six Bedouin communities petitioned the High Court of Justice on Monday asking that a plan to build a new Bedouin town north of Jericho be frozen.Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank, which is behind the plan, intends to forcibly relocate three Bedouin tribes there once the town, called Talet Nueima, is built. Wednesday is the deadline for filing objections to the plan with the Civil Administration’s planning office. Dozens of objections have already been submitted, and dozens more are expected to arrive Wednesday, mainly from Bedouin communities and from Palestinian villages located near the proposed town.
The court petition, filed by Bedouin communities near Jerusalem that are slated to be relocated to Talet Nueima, argued that they were never consulted about the plan. The Bedouin say the plan gives no consideration to their traditional way of life or sources of livelihood. But unlike the objections filed with the planning office, the petition focused not on flaws in the plan itself, but on procedural flaws in the planning process. The plan calls for relocating some 12,500 Bedouin from the Jahalin, Kaabneh and Rashaida tribes to Talet Nueima. This is the largest plan the Civil Administration has drafted for West Bank Palestinians since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. If the plan comes to fruition, the evacuation of the Bedouin tribes would free up additional lands for settlement construction, especially in the E1 corridor between Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. Two of the tribes currently live east of Jerusalem and the third in the Jordan Valley.
The plan would force the three tribes to live together, in violation of their customs. Moreover, concentrating them north of Jericho would affect all the nearby Palestinian villages economically, environmentally, demographically and culturally. Both Bedouin and Palestinians fear Talet Nueima would become an island of poverty whose residents would have no opportunities for employment in the area. They also fear there would be social friction and competition over scarce water resources. The Bedouin are the weakest members of Palestinian society, with no influence over internal Palestinian politics. But because of this plan’s impact on nearby Palestinian communities, the battle against it is getting more support than usual from other Palestinians.

A very important person Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 4/12/14


The darkness has emerged into the light, the margins have become the center and ultranationalism has become politically correct. This is the Israel that Benjamin Netanyahu has fashioned. — …Netanyahu is the shaper of contemporary Israel … It is also unjust to view him as a cynical politician. He was one of Israel’s most ideological prime ministers ever, who could turn his extremist doctrine into the zeitgeist of the entire state. Even when he hid his beliefs, he did so in order to advance them. Netanyahu never believed in peace with the Arabs — and he removed peace from Israel’s agenda. He never believed in the rights of the Palestinian people — and he destroyed the two-state solution. He genuinely believed that Jews are the chosen people — and he brought Israel closer to a future apartheid state modeled on his beliefs, including in its constitutional aspects. Can one imagine a more sweeping success? Can one think of anyone who did more to advance his own worldview? …
Once upon a time there was an Israel. An Israel that spoke about peace and believed in it, even if it did almost nothing to achieve it; an Israel that was democratic, at least for Jews; an Israel that respected the other countries of the world and took them into account; that knew its size, the limits of its power and the boundaries of its influence. Once there was an Israel that subdued its racism and was ashamed of it; that did not alternate only between rivers of hate and waves of intimidation. Where Arabs were not only suspicious objects and where war refugees were not only “infiltrators.” Where Judaism was not only for ultranationalists and the flag was not waved only by the settlers. Once there was hope, but it disappeared; someone severed it. Netanyahu shaped a different Israel, in his own image. He was the prime minister of fear and hate. Try to think of one positive mark he left, one significant way in which Israel is better after him than it was before him.

How Pakistani law inspired Israel to seize Arabs’ land Benjamin Pogrund Ha’aretz 26/11/14


The new Jewish state used the legal techniques of a new Muslim state to deprive its own mainly-Muslim refugees of their properties. How ironic — …by 1948 only 5.7 percent of the land of then Palestine had been purchased. The War of Independence that year opened the way to far-reaching changes: the land allocated by the United Nations partition plan to Jews was extended by 38 percent as local Arab militia and invading Arab armies were defeated and driven back. The government seized the lands of Arabs who had left their homes, whether they fled outside the borders or remained inside. The new state ended up owning some 93 percent of the land, with the rest remaining as private property belonging to Arabs, Jews, Christian churches and the Muslim Waqf.
Israel the conqueror did not behave uniquely: in seizing properties, policies were evolved from what had been done elsewhere in the world. Regulations to eliminate all rights of former owners derived from Britain’s Trading with the Enemy Act of 1939 which dealt with Nazi Germany, and by the actions of other countries where mass exchanges of population had taken place … In the government debates to decide what to do with the Arab “abandoned property,” the prime minister’s special adviser on land and border demarcation, Zalman Lifshitz, argued for the permanent use of refugee property for the political and economic benefit of the new state. He said that countries in similar situations, such as Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia, had taken on vast powers to liquidate refugee property for state use and he urged the Israeli government “to proceed in a similar manner” as “there is no shortage of precedents.” He focused on Pakistan, the Muslim state which had come into violent existence in 1947 in the partition of colonial India … Pakistani lawmakers, he noted, had drawn on Britain’s Trading with the Enemy Act, but had also introduced new elements to assist expropriation and transfer of ownership: they had created a mechanism for seizing Hindu and Sikh refugee property in Pakistan and its reallocation for the settlement of Muslim refugees from India. Lifshitz presented his report on 30 March 1949 and the Knesset, parliament, duly enacted laws later that year. The legal machinery to appropriate Palestinian refugee land, he noted, was “based squarely” on the Pakistani legislation of 1948. But unlike Pakistan and others, a state (for Palestinians) did not come into existence at the time. So Palestinian refugees did not have the benefit of state sponsorship and they landed up in limbo in surrounding Arab states and inside Israel. Ever since, Palestinians, and the world, have paid dearly for that omission.

Otherwise Occupied: Israeli soldiers are licensed thugs applying state violence in the West Bank Amira Hass Ha’aretz 15/12/14 Http://
Even without tear gas grenades and grabbing Ziad Abu Ein by the throat, the presence of IDF troops in Turmus Aya was an act of violence in itself — The death of the Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein is more evidence of how the violence of the Israel Defense Forces has become normal, an obvious routine, one that is not seen and not changed. We have been busy with “a heart attack or not a heart attack,” we dealt with “suspending security coordination or not suspending security coordination” and with “how the IDF prepares for escalation.” In other words, we have been dealing with what slightly tickles Israeli fake normalcy. Nobody addressed the naturalness with which a line of IDF soldiers and Border Police and army jeeps set up in a Palestinian field to prevent farmers from accessing their land. There is no criticism of the nonchalance with which the licensed thugs shoot tear gas and stun grenades at old people, women and young people. And why? So they will not come near the unauthorized and illegal outpost of Adei Ad, located on their land. Even without tear gas grenades and stun grenades, even without grasping Abu Ein’s throat – the presence of IDF and Border Police forces there was pure violence. Every pillbox in the West Bank, every military camp and Civil Administration jeep, and every tractor of the Jerusalem municipality in the eastern part of the city, they are all an inseparable part of the state violence.

Army orders a Palestinian to stop digging a well in his land IMEMC/Agencies 19/12/14


A number of Israeli military vehicles invaded, on Friday, an area in the al-Khader town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and ordered a Palestinian to stop digging a water well in his land, close to an illegal settlement. Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in al-Khader, told the Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA) that the soldiers, accompanied by personnel of the “Civil Administration Office,” invaded the Thahr al-Jorn area, close to Neve Daniel illegal settlement, and handed the order to Khader Ali Ghneim. The army told Ghneim that the well he was digging “did not receive a permit from the Civil Administration Office,” run by the military in the occupied West Bank. The well is part of a project run by the Palestinian Agricultural Relief aiming at helping the Palestinians, especially amidst the ongoing Israeli violations against them, and their lands, for the benefit of illegal settlements.
In related news, soldiers confiscated three Palestinian tractors east of Yatta town in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, and prevented the Palestinians from plowing their lands to prepare for the winter season. Rateb Jabour, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, said the soldiers confiscated the tractors in Susiya area, and that the machines belong to members of the Nawaj’a family.

EU court strikes Hamas from terror blacklist Danny Kemp AFP 17/12/14

The Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas must be removed from the EU’s terrorism blacklist, but its assets will stay frozen for the time being, a European court ruled on Wednesday. The original listing in 2001 was based not on sound legal judgements but on conclusions derived from the media and the Internet, the General Court of the European Union said in a statement. But it stressed that Wednesday’s decision to remove Hamas was based on technical grounds and does “not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group.” The freeze on Hamas’s funds will also temporarily remain in place for three months pending any appeal by the EU, the Luxembourg-based court said. Hamas, which has been in power in the Palestinian territory of Gaza since 2007, had appealed against its inclusion on the blacklist on several grounds … Hamas’s military wing was added to the European Union’s first-ever terrorism blacklist drawn up in December 2001 in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States. The EU blacklisted the political wing of Hamas in 2003.

Netanyahu demands EU immediately restore Hamas to terror list AFP 17/12/14

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday demanded the EU immediately restore Hamas to its terrorism blacklist, after a European court ordered the group’s removal. “We are not satisfied with the European explanation by which Hamas has been withdrawn from this list. We expect the Europeans to puts Hamas back on the list immediately,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

EU Parliament passes resolution to support recognition of Palestine Ma’an 17/12/14


The European Parliament on Wednesday passed a resolution supporting recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution to the Middle East conflict. The EU parliament supports “in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced,” the resolution said. It also decided to launch a “Parliamentarians for Peace” initiative to bring together MEPs and MPs from the Israeli and Palestinian parliaments, a statement on the parliament’s website said. The resolution passed by 498 votes to 88, with 111 abstentions. The statement said the parliament reiterated “its strong support for the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, with the secure State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security on the basis of the right of self-determination and full respect of international law.”

2014 was a busy day for Palestine John Whitbeck 17/12/14
In Strasbourg, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly, “in principle”, in favor of recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution while avoiding the fundamental issue of when EU member states should recognize the State of Palestine.
In Luxembourg, the General Court of the European Union, unexpectedly, ordered the European Union to remove Hamas from its “terrorist” blacklist, accepting Hamas’s argument in an appeal filed in 2010 that as a “legitimately-elected government” it cannot be labeled as a terrorist organization and that such a designation flies in the face of “the principle of non-interference in the internal matters of a State.” (See
In Geneva, a rare conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention (fiercely resisted and then boycotted by Israel, the United States, Australia and Canada) was convened by Switzerland, in its role as depositary of the Geneva Conventions, to discuss war crimes committed in occupied Palestine and, by consensus, issued a legally binding declaration emphasizing the prohibition on colonizing occupied land and approving the launch of investigations. The text of the declaration can be accessed at the following link:
In New York, the State of Palestine (through Jordan) formally presented a resolution to the UN Security Council calling for an end-of-2017 deadline to end the occupation and fixing parameters consistent with international law and relevant UN resolutions for renewed negotiations under new management. The text of the resolution has been posted by Ha’aretz ( It is so unreasonably reasonable that it is hard to imagine a negative vote (or veto) or even an abstention based on rational thought rather than on abject subservience to a higher power.

The silent cry of Bethlehem James Zogby Ma‘an 2/01/15


It is the peaceful little town that played an out-sized role in history; the birthplace of Jesus, the child born in a cave, heralded by angels, and visited by shepherds and kings. For hundreds of millions of Christians world-wide, these are the images that define Bethlehem. Sadly, in reality, all of this is but a fantasy, since the pressures of daily life confronted by the residents of this historic community paint a remarkably different portrait. Suffering under an Israeli military occupation since 1967, Bethlehem is slowly being strangled. It is losing land to settlement construction, hemmed in by a 30 foot high concrete wall, stripped of its resources, and denied access to external markets. As a result, 25 percent of Bethlehem’s people are unemployed, while 35 percent live below the poverty level …
The town has lost so much land to Israeli confiscation for settlement construction that, because it can no longer expand, it must build vertically. As a result, what is left of Bethlehem has become overcrowded, with traffic congesting its narrow streets. Israeli leaders often complain that they must expand their settlements further so that their young can find housing. And they insist that they must continue to build their wall, in order to protect their people who live in these illegal colonies. What they do not say is that the expansion of the mammoth projects at Har Homa, Gilo, Har Gilo, Betar Ilit, Giva’ot, and more are occurring at the expense of Palestinians living in the Bethlehem region. The Israelis call these colonies “neighborhoods of Jerusalem.” This is but a crude effort to obfuscate the reality that they are all built on Bethlehem area land — illegally confiscated by Israel and then unilaterally annexed to what they call “Greater Jerusalem.” As a result, Palestinians now retain only tenuous control of 13 percent of the Bethlehem region — with the Israelis still threatening to take more. In fact, the 22 Israeli settlements built in the Bethlehem region, the roads that connect them, and the wall that protects them were all built on land taken from Palestinians.

Military steps up use of live 0.22 bullets against Palestinian stone throwers
PRESS RELEASE B’Tselem 18/01/15


West Bank military commander recently confirmed shift to use of live fire instead of crowd control weapons — Recent months have seen a dramatic rise in Israeli security forces’ use of live 0.22 inch caliber bullets (Ruger rifle bullets, also known by the nickname Two-Two) in clashes with Palestinians in the West Bank. The firing of this ammunition is an almost weekly occurrence in the West Bank in sites of protests and clashes. Most of those injured have been young Palestinians, including minors. Yet, in the last two months, one Palestinian woman, at least three photographers, and a foreign national who was taking part in a demonstration were also hit by these bullets. B’Tselem does not have the full data on the number of people wounded by this type of ammunition. Two-Twos are live ammunition whose impact is less severe than that of “ordinary” bullets (5.56 mm caliber), yet even so they can be lethal and inflict serious injuries. Two-Twos are fired with a 10/22 Ruger rifle, which is often equipped with an integral suppressor, or from a specially converted M4 rifle (“a shortened M16”). Use of this weapon has elicited controversy even within the Israeli military: in 2001, the head of the security department in the Operations Directorate wrote that the Ruger cannot be considered a non-lethal weapon and may be used only in circumstances that justify live fire. In view of the large number of people hit and even killed by 0.22 bullets early in the second intifada, use of this ammunition was suspended from 2001 to 2008. In the time since use of this ammunition was renewed, B’Tselem has documented the deaths of at least two people from these bullets; however, the real number may be higher, as it is difficult to establish whether a person was killed by these bullets or “ordinary” live ammunition, which is very similar in caliber. In recent weeks, B’Tselem has documented the use of 0.22 bullets in clashes in various locations in the northern West Bank….

Mideast conflict enters new phase with Palestinian ICC bid Sarah Benhaida Ha’aretz 6/01/15 .
(AFP) 6 Jan by — The Palestinians have moved into uncharted territory by bidding to join the International Criminal Court, analysts say, with the decades-old conflict with Israel now set to play out on the world stage. After years of threats, the Palestinians finally turned to the ICC last month after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution setting a deadline for ending Israel’s occupation of their lands. The moves dashed hopes of a return to peace talks that have failed time and again, including in last year’s aborted bid led by US Secretary of State John Kerry. Analysts say the Mideast conflict has moved into a new chapter, with the Palestinians pursuing a fresh strategy of putting pressure on Israel through the international community. “The peace process born at Oslo is dead and buried, and we’re now at the start of a new phase,” said Karim Bitar, a Middle East analyst based in Paris, referring to the 1993 peace accords. How far Israel will take its response to the ICC bid will be a key question, analysts say, as it will fear going too far in undermining the Palestinian Authority.

How Israel stands to lose at the ICC, without a single trial taking place Daniella Peled
Haaretz 6/01/15 The devastating prospects of Palestine joining the International Criminal Court has less to do with the chances of prosecution of soldiers, and more to do with the impact it will have on Israel’s precarious international image — …The ICC is a court of last resort, and the prosecutor can only launch a preliminary examination (followed by a full criminal investigation) if Israel proves “unwilling or unable” to investigate itself. Israel could plausibly argue it had the ability and will to investigate its own alleged crimes – there are 13 investigations into Operation Protective Edge already underway – although its record of military investigation has been accused of falling far short of international legal standards.
The occupation, however, could be put on trial. Jurists and international justice aficionados will happily dissect legal minutiae on this issue for years to come. Israel will be the test case, and this process will roll on and on, sucking all the oxygen out of Israel’s strategies for public diplomacy (while the Palestinian bid for recognition as a state will gain unstoppable momentum) … The mere prospect of an investigation by such a prestigious body serves as the ultimate delegitimisation, Jerusalem’s current bugbear. Unlike the United Nations, whose report on the summer’s war is expected to be devastating, the ICC cannot be accused of having an anti-Israel agenda. After all, it has so far only brought African cases to trial.

UN chief says Palestine will join int’l court on April 1 Edith M. Lederer United Nations 7/01/15

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said late Tuesday that the state of Palestine will join the International Criminal Court on April 1, a high-stakes move that will enable the Palestinians to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel. The Palestinians submitted the documents ratifying the Rome Statute that established the court last Friday, the last formal step to accepting the jurisdiction of the world’s permanent war crimes tribunal. The U.N. said the secretary-general would review the paperwork. In a statement posted on the U.N.’s treaty website, the secretary-general announced his acceptance of the documents saying “the statute will enter into force for the State of Palestine on April 1, 2015″ in accordance with the court’s procedures. He said he was “acting in his capacity as depositary” for the documents of ratification.

Palestinians recognize ICC jurisdiction for period covering Gaza war THE HAGUE (AFP)

The International Criminal Court said Palestinian authorities had formally recognised the court’s jurisdiction to investigate crimes allegedly committed during last summer’s Gaza war. The legal declaration would allow the ICC to scrutinise offences allegedly committed since June 13, 2014, the start of Israel’s military operation, but does not mean the court would automatically launch an investigation, it said. Acceptance of the ICC’s jurisdiction differs from accession to the Rome Statute, the Court’s founding treaty … It was on June 13 that Israel began a massive crackdown on the West Bank after the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers, triggering a series of events which led to a seven-week Gaza war that killed nearly 2,200 [now believed to be 2,310] Palestinians and 73 Israelis.

To take Israel to court, Palestinians say they’re willing to pay the price Christa Case Bryant
Christian Science Monitor 6/01/15
The Palestinian decision last week to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), through which Palestinians plan to recommend legal action against alleged Israeli crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, could incur a fairly high cost. Israel initially responded by withholding $127 million in tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority – roughly equivalent to a month’s worth of PA salaries. It has also threatened further punitive measures. And more than $400 million in annual US aid would be imperiled if the PA initiates action against Israel at the ICC. But the Palestinian leadership remains unmoved. “Deterring one Israeli soldier from murdering one Palestinian child is worth every penny and every suffering and not having salaries,” says Husam Zomlot, an economist and senior foreign policy adviser for the dominant Fatah party. “Our major issue here is not that of salaries, our major issue is that of the status quo and the [Israeli] occupation.” At issue is how Palestinians can best establish an independent state and protect their rights after 21 years of failed negotiations to end the decades-long conflict with Israel.

Israeli’s president against Palestinian tax freeze AFP 5/01/15

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said on Monday he opposed a freeze in the transfer of taxes to the Palestinians in response to their application to join the International Criminal Court. “Freezing taxes can be useful neither for Israel nor for the Palestinians,” Rivlin told ambassadors accredited to Israel in a speech. In his speech, a copy of which was seen by AFP, Rivlin said that Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas “continues to reject direct negotiations and tries to impose a deal by force”, adding that such an approach “warrants sanctions” … “Sanctions against the PA should be in line with Israeli interests, and a tax freeze is not,” Rivlin said.

US weighs cutting aid to Palestinians over court move Bradley Klapper AP 5/01/15

The Obama administration said Monday it was reviewing its annual $440 million aid package to the Palestinians because of their effort to join the International Criminal Court to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel. At the same time, however, the U.S. criticized Israel for withholding tens of millions in tax revenues to the Palestinians, saying such a step “raises tensions.” Taken together, the statements reflected Washington trying to come to grips with a Palestinian move it has spent years trying to avert and a peace process that offers no hope for an immediate breakthrough. The Palestinian decision to join The Hague court came after the U.N. Security Council last month rejected setting a three-year deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian-claimed lands. Israel fears Palestinian membership there could lead to a rash of politically motivated prosecutions that further isolates the Jewish state and makes it hard for Israeli officials to travel abroad. “We’re deeply troubled by the Palestinian action,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. She said joining the court “is entirely counterproductive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state. It badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.” Under American law, any Palestinian case against Israel at the court would trigger an immediate cutoff of U.S. financial support. Membership itself doesn’t automatically incur U.S. punishment.
Book Review: The Reckoning by Patrick Bishop Nick Romeo Boston Globe 2/12/14


Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany were hardly obvious allies for the Jewish population of Palestine in the early 1940s. But to a radical Zionist named Avraham Stern, certain shared interests made cooperation seem both possible and desirable. Stern sought recruits to swell the ranks of a Jewish army that could shake off British rule in Palestine, and the Axis powers also wanted to defeat the British in the Middle East. In addition, Nazi Germany could send its unwanted Jewish citizens to Palestine, and Stern would have the troops he needed to mount an uprising. Stern is the central character in British military historian Patrick Bishop’s fascinating new book, “The Reckoning: Death and Intrigue in the Promised Land.’’ When Stern was only 34, a British police officer shot and killed him in a Tel Aviv apartment. At the time of his death in February 1942 he was the most wanted man in Palestine. After masterminding a series of deadly bombings funded by bank robberies, Stern was widely denounced by Jewish Palestinians and British officials alike. But the contested circumstances of his death and the growing unpopularity of British rule catalyzed a movement to refashion Stern as a martyr and prophet. A man once regarded as a gangster gradually became elevated to the status of an Israeli national hero. Today several streets in Jerusalem bear his name and a postage stamp features his image … The Stern Gang’s politics also made them unpopular. A majority of Palestinian Jews in the late 1930s and early ’40s considered the British a necessary ally in the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine … Stern, however, was so desperate to overthrow the British that he actively courted the Axis powers.
Hugh Humphries
Scottish Friends of Palestine 0141 637 8046

Updated: March 12, 2015 — 6:42 pm

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