Archive for the Activism Category
Date published: 15th May 2011
Source: Al Jazeera English
Several killed and dozens wounded in Gaza, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun and West Bank, as Palestinians mark Nakba Day.
”]Several people have been killed and scores of others wounded in the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun in Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as Palestinians mark the “Nakba”, or day of “catastrophe”.
The “Nakba” is how Palestinians refer to the 1948 founding of the state of Israel, when an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled following Israel’s declaration of statehood.
At least one Palestinian was killed and up to 80 others wounded in northern Gaza as Israeli troops opened fire on a march of at least 1,000 people heading towards the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
A group of Palestinians, including children, marching to mark the “Nakba” were shot by the Israeli army after crossing a Hamas checkpoint and entering what Israel calls a “buffer zone” – an empty area between checkpoints where Israeli soldiers generally shoot trespassers, Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reported from Gaza City on Sunday.
“We are just hearing that one person has been killed and about 80 people have been injured,” Johnston said.
“There are about 500-600 Palestinian youth gathered at the Erez border crossing point. They don’t usually march as far as the border. There has been intermittent gunfire from the Israeli side for the last couple of hours.
“Hamas has asked us to leave; they are trying to move people away from the Israeli border. They say seeing so many people at the border indicates a shift in politics in the area.”
Separately in south Tel Aviv, one Israeli man was killed and 17 were injured when a 22-year-old Arab Israeli driver drove his truck into a number of vehicles on one of the city’s main roads.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the driver, from an Arab village called Kfar Qasim in the West Bank, was arrested at the scene and is being questioned.
“Based on the destruction and the damage at the scene, we have reason to believe that it was carried out deliberately,” Rosenfeld said. But he said he did not believe the motive was directly linked to the anniversary of the Nakba.
West Bank clashes
One of the biggest Nakba demonstrations was held near Qalandiya refugee camp and checkpoint, the main secured entry point into the West Bank from Israel, where about 100 protesters marched, Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh reported from Ramallah.
Some injuries were reported from tear gas canisters fired at protesters there, El-Shamayleh said.
Small clashes were reported throughout various neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and cities in the West Bank, between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli security forces.
Israeli police said 20 arrests were made in the East Jerusalem area of Issawiyah for throwing stones and petrol bombs at Israeli border police officers.
About 70 arrests have been made in East Jerusalem throughout the Nakba protests that began on Friday, two days ahead of the May 15 anniversary, police spokesman Rosenfeld said.
Tensions had risen a day earlier after a 17-year-old Palestinian boy died of a gunshot wound suffered amid clashes on Friday in Silwan, another East Jerusalem neighbourhood.
Police said the source of the gunfire was unclear and that police were investigating, while local sources told Al Jazeera that the teen was shot in random firing of live ammunition by guards of Jewish settlers living in nearby Beit Yonatan.
Meanwhile, Syrian state television reported that Israeli forces killed four Syrian citizens who had been taking part in an anti-Israeli rally on the Syrian side of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights border on Sunday.
Israeli army radio said earlier that dozens were wounded when Palestinian refugees from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights border were shot for trying to break through the frontier fence. There was no comment on reports of the injured.
Meanwhile, Matthew Cassel, a journalist in the Lebanese town of Ras Maroun, on the southern border with Israel, told Al Jazeera that at least two Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon were killed in clashes there.
“Tens of thousands of refugees marched to the border fence to demand their right to return where they were met by Israeli soldiers,” he said.
“Many were killed. I don’t know how many but I saw with my own eyes a number of unconscious and injured, and at least two dead.
“Now the Lebanese army has moved in, people are running back up the mountain to get away from the army.”
A local medical source told the AFP news agency that Israeli gunfire killed six people and wounded 71 others in Ras Maroun.
‘End to Zionist project’
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned Sunday’s demonstrations.
“I regret that there are extremists among Israeli Arabs and in neighbouring countries who have turned the day on which the State of Israel was established, the day on which the Israeli democracy was established, into a day of incitement, violence and rage”, Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.
“There is no place for this, for denying the existence of the State of Israel. No to extremism and no to violence. The opposite is true”, he said.
Earlier Sunday Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Hamas-controlled Gaza, repeated the group’s call for the end of the state of Israel.
Addressing Muslim worshippers in Gaza City on Sunday, Haniyeh said Palestinians marked this year’s Nakba “with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine”.
“To achieve our goals in the liberation of our occupied land, we should have one leadership,” Haniyeh said, praising the recent unity deal with its rival, Fatah, the political organisation which controls the West Bank under Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership.
Meanwhile, a 63 second-long siren rang midday in commemoration of the Nakba’s 63rd anniversary.
Over 760,000 Palestinians – estimated today to number 4.7 million with their descendants – fled or were driven out of their homes in the conflict that followed Israel’s creation.
Many took refuge in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere. Some continue to live in refugee camps.
About 160,000 Palestinians stayed behind in what is now Israeli territory and are known as Arab Israelis. They now total around 1.3 million, or some 20 percent of Israel’s population.
Published: 14th May 2011
After 63 years of the Palestinian Nakba, and despite 20 years of unsuccessful peace negotiations, the Palestinian people continue to be denied their most fundamental and inalienable rights to self-determination, national independence, sovereignty and return to the homes and properties from which they have been forcibly displaced. Living under the Israeli apartheid regime and in forced exile away from the towns and villages, hills and olive groves that they call home, the Palestinian people remain steadfast in their struggle to end the systematic human rights violations committed against them and return to their homes of origin.
Meanwhile, the international community, especially the USA and the dominant member states of the UN continue to shield Israel from accountability and maintain extensive economic and diplomatic ties which finance and subsidize the Israeli regime. This persistent support has taken place under the guise of a ‘peace process’ which has worked to embellish Israeli violations with the facade of peace; a situation Israel has exploited to increase its international and regional economic and diplomatic links. As the pretense of negotiations falls away, so too does the cover it provides Israel to continue its policies, a reality reflected in the growing civil society response insisting upon the application of international law to end Israeli impunity.
An accounting for the collapse of the peace process, a failure now a recognized reality by all parties involved in it for the past 20 years, inevitably leads to the need to establish a strategy which puts the realization of Palestinian rights at its center and focuses on the practical action needed to bring Palestinian rights into reality, combining grassroots, civic struggle on the ground with international pressure on Israel to respect the rights of the Palestinian people.
The latest agreement between the two main Palestinian factions is an encouraging first step towards establishing such a strategy. However, genuine national reconciliation and unity can only come about through the inclusion of the Palestinian people in their entirety in contributing to and deciding upon the way forward for the Palestinian people. It is in this vein that the campaign for direct elections to the highest decision making body of the Palestinian people, the Palestinian National Council (PNC) was relaunched, to ensure that the voice of all Palestinians, including those with Israeli citizenship and refugees living forced exile are included.
These attempts at national unity take place against the backdrop of political transformations in neighboring Arab countries which reassert the power of people to take their fate in their own hands in seeking freedom, justice and equality. In 2011, the year of revolutions, it is as clear as ever that the Palestinian people are at the centerpiece of a regional-wide yearning for rights, denied to them by powers concerned more with geopolitical influence than upholding the rule and values of international law. Ending the particular systematic denial of rights suffered by Palestinians as a result of Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid is therefore intrinsically tied in with fate of the millions of demonstrators on the streets of the Arab world.
On the 63rd commemoration of the Nakba and as part of activities to confront ongoing forcible transfer of Palestinians by Israel, We the undersigned organizations call:
On the Palestinian leadership to:
• To adopt a coherent strategy which places at its forefront a just and permanent solution for Palestinian refugees and IDPs, based on their right to return and in accordance with international law, universal principles of justice and UN resolutions 194 (1948) and 237 (1967);
• Ensure genuine national reconciliation and unity as a matter of urgency, and rebuild the PLO as a legitimate and credible platform representing the entire Palestinian people and its political organizations through initiating direct elections to the PNC;
• Support and activate popular resistance in all forms permitted under international law.
• Establish a consultative mechanism with professional civil society organizations to support the efforts of the PLO in international fora.
On Civil Society, Governments, UN Members States, Organs and Agencies to:
• Support civil society led direct actions in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle such as the Gaza freedom flotilla;
• Build and expand the civil society-led movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and exert stronger pressure on states to implement sanctions and adopt decisions and resolutions which support the global BDS Campaign;
• Redouble efforts for investigation of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity and prosecution and punishment of those responsible, as well as efforts to prevent Israel’s accession and integration into international and regional organizations.
• Implement international protection standards for Palestinian refugees and IDPs.
– BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
– The Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI)
– Defense for Children International/Palestine Section
– Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
– Housing and Land Rights Network: Habitat International Coalition
– Joint Advocacy initiative -The East Jerusalem YMCA and YWCA of Palestine-
– Kairos Palestine
– The Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign
Written by: Ali Abunimah
Date published: 6th May 2011
Source: Ali Abunimah’s Blog
I just downloaded a brand new free iPhone app called iGaza. I was pleasantly surprised by how good this is. It brings a stream of news about Palestine, more specifically Gaza and activism to break the blockade of Gaza right to your phone.
It draws from wide range of sources including mainstream media and human rights groups and has buttons that give you all the latest news on a number of specific topics. The application presents a short summary of an item and a link to the original, and allows easy sharing via social media.
iGaza also finds and plays Palestine-related videos from many sources. One of my favorite features is an instant library of major UN resolutions relating to Palestine. Always handy in a debate!
There’s even a button that will allow you to instantly send a protest email to a representative of the Israeli state. iGaza is designed by UK-based developer Gary McFarlane.
Date published: 17th April 2011
Source: In Gaza
excerpts from Lauren Booth on the killing of Vik:
The killing of Vittorio (Vik) Arrigoni in Gaza this week follows (too) closely, the murder of pro-Palestinian peace activist Juliano Mer Khamis in the West Bank. Juliano, 52, was shot dead outside the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp on the West Bank on the 4th April. His documentary Arnas’s Children detailed the work of his mother in helping Palestinian children deal with the trauma of living under Occupation through the use of drama and self – expression.
Juliano was untimely, bloody, end was one he had predicted three years ago on Israeli television.
Vittorio Arrigoni was found, this week, hung, by armed ‘fanatics’ in an apartment in Gaza. An end he would never, ever, have predicted.
There was worldwide condemnation for the killing of both men.
That a man dedicated to non violent resistance should die in violence is bad enough.
Worse, far worse is this; That his avowed enemies the ‘Fascisti’ in Israel (as he would call the government there) seek to make political gains from a life lived in direct challenge to them. This, as much as the sight of that last, dreadful film showing his eyes taped and his face bruised, is a knife in the heart of all who loved or knew of him.
The headline ‘Italian peace activist killed by Palestinian extremists’ is an Israeli propagandists wet dream. A gift as potentially large in its political implications as the now inevitable retraction by the UN of the Goldstone report.
Two reasons. firstly, if nothing is done, and fast, Israel will use the momentum of these two machinated events, as an excuse to re invade the Gaza Strip under the auspices of ‘terrorism and security’ issues.
Secondly, Israeli is seeking to end the growing momentum of the siege breaking movement and the increasing appeal of the ISM (International Solidarity Movement).
Which brings us to timing of both Juliano and Vittorio’s murders. Both men were respected for their creative work. Juliano, for inspiring a new generation of actors and writers in Jenin and for his film making on the subject of life under Occupation.
Vik for his award winning writings and broadcasts, on the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza.
Both men were part of a new uprising, arguably, the most successful yet. The uprising that hurts Israel where it hurts most – in the TV studios of Europe and the US, right in the intelligentsia. Their impact on the Israel ‘fascisti’ machine was a phenomenon in the expanding worlds of twitter and facebook. They had voices like no others in this movement.
More though. Vik was pivotal in the reformation of the ISM Gaza Group, the non violent resistance team, put on hold after the murders of two of its members by Israeli forces ; Tom Hurndall and Rachel Corrie. After it became clear that Israel’s leaders had taken the decision not only not to ignore the human rights of internationals in the West Bank and Gaza (thus putting them on a par with Palestinians), but to actively target them. The ISM in Gaza took time to consider whether it could encourage, young activists to join them on the ever increasingly mission to accompany Gazans about their daily business. Human shield work. Tom Hurndall and Rachel Corrie’s deaths were part of a dedicated attack by Israel on the work of the increasingly effective ISM.
More recently, IOF commanders have been focusing their attention on the Freegaza Movements efforts to break the siege of Gaza by sea.
It is no coincidence then that both Juliano and Vittorio should die within two weeks. Both, at the hands of unknown Palestinian ‘cells.’ As they say on children’s TV – tell us boys and girls what’s wrong with this picture?
Still unsure who was behind Vittorio’s murder? Well, how often have the Israeli press lauded and applauded ‘covert ops’ in the Occupied Territories? Want some examples? Fine. In 1952, Shin Bet agents were sent undercover to spy inside Palestinian villages. Ten Jewish men assimilated into Arab communities in the early 1950s, marrying local women and starting families with them, were, all the while serving in the Shin Bet as “mistaarvim,” literally- masqueraders. The men learned the Palestinian dialect, studied the Quran and espionage techniques in an Intelligence Corps base near Ramla. With a detailed cover story, they were sent into Palestinian villages and cities pretending to be refugees from the Nakba returning home.
Just this year, Israel has carried out an assassination in Dubai of a Hamas member (or as it was known in the British media – the ‘passports scandal’). Mossad operatives have kidnapped a Palestinian engineer from the Ukraine, who is now, illegally held in an Israeli prison.
And what of the sadistic coercion that Palestinians with chronic illnesses have been subjected to by Shin Bet? Known in Gaza as treachery for treatment? A Palestinian patient requests a permit from the Israeli- Palestinian Civil Liaisons Department to be allowed to travel from Gaza to the West Bank or Israel for an operation. After exhausting efforts, patients receive permits and go to Erez. Prominent human rights centres report that Shin Bet officers,then attempt to coerce and entrap patients, to do dirty work for them in their home towns and villages in return for rapid and/or ongoing medial treatment.
Yes folks, spies-for-health.
Israel then, ‘has form’ when it comes to lying, murdering, and coercion, for its own ends.
As Hamas rounds up the perpetrators of this most recent, deadly crime, the Gaza grapevine is buzzing with the news that they will indeed be found to be, (as suspected from the get-go), Israeli collaborators.
Statements of denial from the ‘Salafis’ accused of the murder have already been issued. Despite the fact the Western media is still running with the story of their guilt.
There were statements from Tawid wal – Jihad and Ma’sadat al- Mujahedin An excerpt from a statement read, “we strongly deny any responsibility for or connection to the kidnapping of the Italian (Vittorio Arrigoni)… Our statements are distributed exclusively through Shoumouk al – Islam, Attahadi Network and the Ansar al-Mujahideen Network…Any statement attributed to us that are not released through these channels, have nothing to do with us, even if they are published on Jihadi websites…”
So, who benefits from the killing of Vittorio Arrigoni? And what is the significance of the timing of his murder?
Well, if it smells like s***t and looks like s**t it almost certainly is – Israel.
Sure, the kidnappers’ video looked genuine at first. It had all the customary layout of the kind of ‘Jihadi’ videos that the tabloid press loves: the black flag of Islam, the Quranic verse in the introduction, footage of the kidnapped victim. But a small detail on the black flag, underneath the precious, Islamically untouchable phrase ‘There is No God, but God’ raises questions about the authenticity of the groups grasp on Islam. The extra words read something like “the Brigades of Muhammad Ibn Maslama.” This has been hard for experts to verify because the video is being systematically pulled off YouTube. But one thing is certain;
‘Jihadis’ never write ANYTHING on the flag besides La Ilaha Ila Allah.
Also unusual, was the lack of customary logos of the Jihadi media distribution channels: Shoumoukh al-Islam, Ansar al-Mujahideen, Global Islamic Media Front, etc. (See the statement of denial above).
You know what, right now, who cares?
Vik; friend, solidarity activist, hero, author, is dead and his enemy is making gains from his life. A life dedicated to the opposition of Israeli Fascism.
We know all to well, the bloody massacre that took place last year on the Mavi Marmara, committed by Israeli forces.
Now, as the second Armada plans to chart the same course on or near the anniversary of that sailing, Israel is pulling out all the stops, in its efforts to stop, frighten, threaten and deter, hundreds more activists from taking action against their Apartheid state.
Israel’s ambassador to Turkey, Gaby Levy, has just asked the Turkish government to help halt the flotilla movement saying their sailing would be a “provocation.” Asked about the pressure, a Turkish foreign ministry official told Reuters: “We listened to the message given by the Israeli side and told them this is an initiative by civil society.”
The official did not elaborate.
Strike one, for Israel.
But the efforts continued.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on EU ambassadors in Jerusalem saying “This flotilla must be stopped.”
And there’s more. On April 1, Netahyahu’s office asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to stop the flotilla setting sail.
Netanyahu told Ban Ki-moon that the mission of ships was being organized by (guess who folks?) “Islamic extremist elements” intent on bringing about “a flare-up.”
Then, on Wednesday, the morally bankrupt, Silvio Berlusconi, told Israel Radio, that he would work to prevent the next flotilla bound for Gaza, from sailing.
Berlusconi said that a peaceful Middle East is farther from reality now than it ever has been before, adding that Israel has no viable peace partner. He even asserted that Israel is the only Middle Eastern country that the West can trust, and that Israel should join the European Union.
The next day, Vik was kidnapped.
The same night, before any realistic negotiations could take place for his release, Vik was murdered.
Feeling sick yet? Yeah, me too.
Because this was a hit. A hit carried out to intimidate, to frighten off those who have already signed up for the next flotilla to Gaza and may be traveling there for the first time, Those unsure of the exceptional good will and generosity of the people there. A good will Vik would tell you about.
We mustn’t let the Israeli ‘fascisti’ succeed in their latest terror tactic. Early signs are that for all the pain Vik’s death has caused, all the tears that have flowed. that we, in the solidarity movement will only grow more determined, in light of this crime.
Since his death the ISM has reported a sharp rise in people wanting to go to Palestine.
Meanwhile, a Freegagza Movement contact, tells me that no one from the next convoy expected to include Turkish, Algerian, Scottish, Spanish, Dutch, Irish, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Jordanian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Swiss, US, Canadian, British and French nationals, has pulled out as a result of Vik’s murder.
Source: The Electronic Intifada, 19 April 2010
|Recent construction in the Har Homa settlement in the occupied West Bank.|
Forced by Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, the US president delivers a “rare rebuke” of an ally. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu begins “construction of a new housing project in East Jerusalem” despite the risk of drawing “fierce, and possibly violent, Palestinian protest, along with international denunciations,” as reported by The New York Times. While this may sound like a news summary from the last month, these are in fact news reports from 1997, as Israel began work on Har Homa colony.
A number of commentators have pointed out a sense of déjà-vu about Netanyahu’s current premiership. But while today’s gaze is fixed on colonies like Ramat Shlomo — home to the 1,600 new housing units announced during US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit — or right-wing settler expansion in Sheikh Jarrah, little has been said about what has since happened to Har Homa, the colony which caused a stir during Netanyahu’s previous time in office.
Har Homa’s impact on the Palestinian community has been devastating, with the town of Beit Sahour now dominated by the ever-expanding settlement. While many are aware of Beit Sahour’s famous nonviolent resistance during the first Palestinian intifada (1987-1993), less well-known is how Israeli rule continues to choke the town. Har Homa has been instrumental in that respect, and it plays a role in the latest settler-driven attempts to take over more land at Ush al-Ghrab, the site of a vacated Israeli military base. Located on the edge of Beit Sahour, the Israeli military has returned to the site while right-wing settlers campaign for the area to become the new settlement of Shdema.
A strategic colony
After 1967, Israel moved quickly to unilaterally and illegally expand the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, expropriating land from West Bank villages in order to do so. As reported in the Israeli daily Haaretz on 13 February, Beit Sahour lost 1,200 of its 7,000 dunams (a dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters), or 17 percent of its total land. Moreover, a May 2009 report by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) entitled “Shrinking Space: Urban contraction and rural fragmentation in the Bethlehem governorate,” found that the Bethlehem governorate, which includes Beit Sahour, lost around 10 square kilometers to Israel’s land confiscation.
In his book, City of Stone: The Hidden History of Jerusalem, Meron Benvenisti, the ex-deputy mayor of Jerusalem, stated that for Israel the “determining consideration” in the “delineation of the borders” of occupied East Jerusalem was “‘a maximum of vacant space with a minimum of Arabs.” He argues that this logically led planners to Palestinian land “on the outskirts of the city and surrounding it” (154-55). Further land loss would follow — meaning that the amount of non-built-up land available for Beit Sahour for development and growth has been reduced to around 600 dunams.
Israel’s creation of the Har Homa colony in the 1990s and its ongoing expansion has been instrumental not just in the direct expropriation of land from Beit Sahour residents, but also in restricting the community’s ability to naturally expand. According to Separate and Unequal: The inside story of Israeli rule in East Jerusalem by Amir S. Cheshin, Bill Hutman and Avi Melamed, the allocation of land for the establishment of Har Homa — a third of which was owned by Palestinians from Beit Sahour and nearby Um Taba — was “never connected with the planning of the neighborhood.” Instead, the goal was to “expropriate as much undeveloped land as possible in the area, to prevent Palestinians from building.” In particular, Israel was “concerned that Palestinian construction would eventually link up Palestinian villages in southern Jerusalem with the nearby West Bank towns of Beit Sahour and Bethlehem” (p. 58).
Separate and Unequal also reveals that in April 1992, a senior official close to then-mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kollek wrote to then housing minister Ariel Sharon, explaining how the land confiscated for Har Homa would “‘straighten the line’ of the Jerusalem municipal border.” The letter explained that the “immediate battle” was over connecting the Jewish settlements of Gilo, East Talpiot and Givat Hamatos. Otherwise, it warned that Beit Sahour and the nearby Palestinian town of Sur Baher would be connected (p. 59).
Indeed, Har Homa has continued to expand over the years, with further residential units being added. Currently, a new expansion of hundreds of homes referred to as “Har Homa C” is awaiting implementation, having been submitted for public review in 2008.
|Settler graffiti in Ush al-Ghrab.|
The same strategy to connect Israeli settlements and deny Palestinian villages the ability to expand is now being applied in Ush al-Ghrab. Establishing a settlement at Ush al-Ghrab will serve to consolidate Israel’s Judaization of the area between Jerusalem and the Bethlehem-Beit Jala-Beit Sahour urban triangle and prevent the possibility of Palestinian territorial contiguity.
Nor is the strategy a secret.Haaretz reported on 4 February that Herzl Yechezel, the leader of the Har Homa “local committee,” spoke at a settlers’ ceremony about the importance of contiguity of Shdema, and Har Homa in order to prevent “the spread of Arab construction.” Yechezel has previously described Har Homa “as a thorn” sitting between Palestinian villages and towns.
An apartheid regime
The loss of land and establishment of settlements has been “complemented” by Israel’s wall in the occupied West Bank, checkpoints and bypass road 356. This matrix of control has further defined the boundaries of this Palestinian enclave. According OCHA’s “Shrinking Space” report, the path of Israel’s wall has placed olive groves belonging to Palestinians from Beit Sahour on the “wrong side.” It stated that these groves are “now only accessible through two gates” that are opened “for limited periods during the annual olive harvest.” According to an 11 April 2009 Reuters report, Israel’s wall has also meant that residents in a Beit Sahour housing project — having narrowly avoided outright demolitions — will be completely encircled, thus “forcing residents to enter and leave via a gate controlled by Israelis.”
Like the wall, bypass road 356 is designed to contain the growth of Beit Sahour. The road connects Har Homa and occupied East Jerusalem with the Israeli settlement of Teqoa in the southeast. Opened in 2007, the road stretches for 19 kilometers in the Bethlehem governorate and onwards to Israeli settlements in the southern West Bank near Hebron. As Nate Wright described in a 7 October article for the Middle East Report, bypass road 356 is “effectively demarcating the city limits” of Beit Sahour while strengthening the eastern Gush Etzion settlements. Therefore, it is imposing limitations on “prospects for growth and the larger socio-economic future of the Bethlehem area.”
Beit Sahour is emblematic of the situation across the occupied Palestinian territories. According to a May 2008 report by OCHA entitled ”Lack of Permit: Demolitions and Resultant Displacement in Area C,” two-thirds of the Bethlehem governorate remains designated as “Area C” under the Oslo accords signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Under total Israeli control, Palestinian construction and development is almost completely impossible in “Area C.” Moreover, “Area C” accounts for over 60 percent of the occupied West Bank’s territory.
While settlement expansion — or creation — announcements make the news for a few weeks, before being forgotten, the impact of Israeli colonization continues devastate Palestinian communities. Diplomatic gestures mean nothing for towns like Beit Sahour, struggling to breathe under an apartheid regime that forces Palestinians into increasingly small, unsustainable pockets of land, policies intended to make normal life — and a continued Palestinian presence — untenable.
Images by Ben White.
Ben White is a freelance journalist and writer whose articles have appeared in the Guardian’s “Comment is free,” The Electronic Intifada, the New Statesman, and many others. He is the author of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide(Pluto Press). He can be contacted at ben A T benwhite D O T org D O T uk.
Source: Aljazeera English
Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, has said that his country must recognise that the world will not put up with decades more of Israeli rule over the Palestinian people.
Speaking to Israel Radio on Israel’s Memorial Day on Monday, Barak acknowledged that there was no way forward in negotiations with the Palestinians other than to meet their aspirations for a state of their own.
“The world is not willing to accept – and we will not change that in 2010 – the expectation that Israel will rule another people for decades more,” he said.
“It is something that does not exist anywhere else in the world.
“There is no other way, whether you like it or not, than to let them [the Palestinians] rule themselves.”
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled since Israeli forces launched a 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip in December 2008.
Barak heads the Labour Party, the most moderate member of the government of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and it was not clear if his remarks were his personal opinion or reflecting a changing attitude within the government.
He said that Netanyahu’s government had “done things that did not come naturally to it”, such as adopting the vision of two states for two peoples and curtailing settlement construction.
“But we also should not delude ourselves. The growing alienation between us and the United States is not good for the state of Israel,” he said.
Washington and its long-time ally have been at odds in recent months over Israel’s continuing settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Barack Obama, the US president, recently issued a pessimistic assessment of peacemaking prospects, saying that his country could not force its will on the Israelis and Palestinians if they were not interested in making compromises.
The Israeli defence minister said that the way to narrow the gap with the US was to embark on a diplomatic initiative “that does not shy from dealing with all the core issues” dividing Israelis and Palestinians.
Chief among these are the status of Jerusalem, final borders and a solution for Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Middle East war.
Meanwhile, in an interview Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America”, Netanyahu south to minimise differences with the US and said he would not accept Palestinian demands that Israel stop building in predominantly-Arab East Jerusalem.
He said that the US and Israel “have some outstanding issues. We are trying to resolve them through diplomatic channels in the best way that we can”.
Later on Monday, Netanyahu told the audience at the national cemetery that Israel is eager for peace, but is ready to confront its enemies.
“We extend one hand in peace to all our neighbours who wish for peace. Our other hand grasps the sword of David in order to defend our people against those who seek to kill us,” he said.
Israel’s Memorial Day, which is dedicated to the nearly 23,000 fallen soldiers and civilian victims of attacks, is observed with a two-minute nationwide siren when people stand at attention, traffic is halted and everyday activities come briefly to a standstill.
At sundown on Monday, the sombre Memorial Day will switch to Israel’s 62nd Independence Day celebrations.