|Date published: 2nd April 2010
Source: Al Jazeera English
Israel has warned that it could launch a fresh military assault on the Gaza Strip if Hamas does not stop rocket and mortar attacks from its territory.
The threat on Friday came just hours after a series of air raids across Gaza, which Israel said were in response to rocket fire the previous day, injured at least three Palestinian children.
The Israeli military has said that almost 20 rockets have been fired into Israel in the past month, including one that killed a Thai farm worker.
“If this rocket fire against Israel does not stop, it seems we will have to raise the level of our activity and step up our actions against Hamas,” Silvan Shalom, Israel’s deputy prime minister, told public radio on Friday.
“We won’t allow frightened children to again be raised in bomb shelters and so, in the end, it will force us to launch another military operation.
“I hope we can avoid it, but it is one of the options we have, and if we don’t have a choice, we will use it in the near future.”
About 1,400 Palestinians were killed when Israel launched its last offensive on the Gaza Strip in December 2008.
Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians also died over the 22-day period of the assault.
“Twenty rockets in the space of one month might not sound a huge amount compared to the intensive rocket fire preceeding and during the Gaza war of just over a year ago,” Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Jerusalem, said.
“Nevertheless, in comparison to recent months it did mark an escalation.”
There was no claim of responsibility for Thursday’s lone rocket, which caused no casualties.
The Israeli military said Friday’s air raids had targeted weapons manufacturing and storage facilities in the central Gaza Strip, in Gaza City in the north and the southern part of the Palestinian enclave, all in response to rockets fired from the territory.
“The IDF [Israeli military] will not tolerate any attempt to harm the citizens of the State of Israel and will continue to operate firmly against anyone who uses terror against it,” the Israeli army said in a statement.
“The IDF holds Hamas as solely responsible for maintaining peace and quiet in the Gaza Strip.”
But witnesses and Hamas officials said that Israeli missiles hit two caravans near the town of Khan Younis and a cheese factory, while helicopters attacked a metal foundry in the Nusseirat refugee camp.
The children injured in the air raids were hit by flying glass, Palestinian medics said.
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, told Al Jazeera that Hamas held the Israeli government led by Binyamin Netanyahu responsible for the “escalation”, but said air raids had been expected because of threats by Ehud Barak, the defence minister, and other ministers.
He also blamed “the international community and the Arabs” for failing “to do anything about the situation in Gaza”.
“The absence of the international community and the Arabs has allowed the Israelis to escalate the situation,” he said.
There have been increasing tensions between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, a Palestinian teenager was killed and several others wounded as Israeli troops fired on protesters near the border between Gaza and Israel and last weekend two Israeli soldiers and two Palestinian fighters died during clashes.
Clashes have also broken out in the West Bank and Jerusalem over Israeli settlement plans, the reconsecration of a synagogue in East Jerusalem and other issues.
Archive for Ehud Barak
Written by Akiva Eldar
Date published: 13th October 2009
So what if the Supreme Court rules? In Israel those decisions are just recommendations, especially if they deal with Palestinian land. In most enlightened democratic countries, saying that decisions of the courts obligate the state authorities is like stating that the sun rises in the east. But that may not be so for Israel.
Last week, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch had to state that “rulings of this court are not mere recommendations, and the state is obliged to abide by them and to execute them with the necessary speed and efficiency, according to the circumstances of the matter.”
The head of the judicial system added: “In the case before us, the state took the law into its own hands.”
The case dates back to June 2006. The High Court of Justice at that time responded to a petition from Hamoked – the Center for the Defense of the Individual, and instructed the Defense Ministry to move the route of the separation fence near the villages of Azzun and Nabi Ilyas in the northern West Bank.
Aharon Barak, who was then president of the Supreme Court, stated in the ruling that “the petition points to an event that cannot be tolerated according to which the information that was supplied to the court did not reflect all of the considerations that were taken into account by the decision makers.”
He was referring to the fact that the Defense Ministry did not reveal to the court that the route of the fence was congruent with the map of the plan to expand the settlement of Tzufim at the expense of Palestinian lands. The prosecution promised that the fence would be dismantled within six months from the completion of the fence along the new route.
It can be assumed that the officials of the Defense Ministry understood that when the court ordered that the injustice toward the residents of the Palestinian villages be corrected “in the shortest time possible” it was not referring to three and a half years.
In any case, from Beinisch’s remarks about a ruling she handed down during a process of contempt of court, it was evident that this was not her interpretation of Barak’s ruling.
“It is not possible to put up with conduct of this kind,” she scolded the representatives of the prosecution and she ordered the state to pay the petitioners’ court costs of NIS 20,000. This sum was added to another NIS 50,000 which the taxpayers paid when the original ruling was handed down as well as the salaries of the lawyers from the prosecution who were sent to defend against the contempt of court ruling.
Before closing the case, Beinisch stated that in countries where there is a rule of law, a political and public storm would have arisen over this.
“In this case before us, the state took the law into its own hands,” she said.
And this is not the only case where the Defense Ministry has made a mockery of court decisions relating to the route of the fence. More than two years ago, the court ordered the state to consider an alternative to the fence’s route that was robbing the village of Bil’in of lands in favor of the settlement of Modi’in Ilit, and to do so “within a reasonable period of time.”
In the ruling that was handed down after 15 months, Beinisch wrote that the alternative that was chosen was not in accordance with the court decision and she ordered the state to abide by it “without further delay.”
Since then 10 months have elapsed, the residents of the village and their supporters have demonstrated, the police have used tear gas, and the fence is still in place.
Maskit Handel of the Association of Civil Rights In Israel recently documented no fewer than eight cases where the state was, or still is, in contempt of rulings handed down by the High Court of Justice since 2006. Among other things, she found two decisions relating to the fortification of schools in communities along the border with the Gaza Strip, three decisions instructing the state to build 245 classrooms in East Jerusalem, and a decision to stop making the granting of work permits for migrant workers dependent on their working for a single employer.
An affidavit submitted to the High Court of Justice a few weeks ago (in response to a petition) by the Defense Minister’s adviser on settlement affairs, Eitan Broshi, indicates that from Ehud Barak’s point of view, anything relating to Palestinian rights, and not only the high court’s rulings, are nothing more than a recommendation.
The affidavit states that the defense minister has decided, for the time being, to refrain from carrying out demolition orders against nine homes in Ofra that were built on private Palestinian land. The explanation no doubt convinced the Palestinians who lost their lands that they are living under an enlightened rule of occupation.
“There is no point in separating this individual case or any other without seeing the general picture and the system of circumstances under which the respondents are acting,” the affidavit stated.
And what is the general picture? Two dozen outposts and numerous illegal homes? And what does the phrase “the system of circumstances” mean? Fear of the settlers?
Daniel Ben Simon, the faction chairman of Barak’s party, Labor, declared during a tour of the outposts organized by Peace Now at the end of August, that if they are not vacated by the start of the winter session of the Knesset, “the Labor party will reconsider its continued membership of the government.”
No special excitement could be seen among the factions on the right when the winter session opened Monday. However informed sources promise that this time they are serious. The sources reveal that in return for the pass the prime minister received with regard to freezing settlement construction, the defense minister has promised the Americans that there will be a speedy evacuation of the outposts, and he has even shown them the schedule.
Date published: 10th August 2009
Source: Al Jazeera English
Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has vowed that he will never evict Jewish settlers from occupied Palestinian land as Israel did in 2005 in the Gaza Strip.
Addressing his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said that removing settlers from Gaza in 2005, was a “mistake” that Israel will not repeat.
“The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip brought us neither peace nor security. The territory has become a base for the pro-Iranian Hamas movement and we will never make the same mistake again,” Netanyahu said.
“We will not evict any more people from their homes.”
It was not immediately clear whether his remarks included the estimated 100 so-called settler outposts, which are often little more than trailers and have been set up without the approval of the Israeli authorities.
Hundreds of thouysands of Israeli settlers live in the occupied West Bank, most of them in the about 120 official settlements that fall under the direct control of the government.
In September 2005, the government of Ariel Sharon, then prime minister, unilaterally removed all Jewish settlements from Gaza in a move aimed at ending Israel’s costly 38-year military presence in the Gaza Strip.
Sharon had said he would follow up that withdrawal with further pullbacks from the West Bank, but a massive stroke incapacitated him, and Ehud Olmert, his successor, abandoned the policy.The issue of settlements is threatening to develop into a rift between Israel and its longtime ally the United States, with Israel refusing to heed Washington’s calls to freeze the building of settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.
Netanyahu’s comments come as Israel summoned one of its diplomats from the US after he circulated a memorandum accusing Netanyahu’s government of doing “strategic damage” to Israel’s ties with Washington.
A brief intended for internal circulation was leaked to Israel’s Channel 10 television, which quoted Nadav Tamir, Israel’s consul in Boston, as saying differences with Washington over Jewish settlements had hurt relations.
Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, said a disciplinary measure was being taken.
Date published: 10th August 2009
Source: Al Jazeera English
Delegates at Fatah’s conference in the occupied West Bank have begun voting for a new executive body and assembly that many hope will be filled with fresh faces.
The much-delayed vote got under way on Sunday, with voting expected to last for at least 10 hours and little indication of when results would be due.
Delegates are choosing among 96 candidates, six of them women, standing for election to the 21-member central committee.
They are also selecting from 617 party members, including 50 women, vying for the 80 places open in a 128-seat Revolutionary Council, the movement’s parliament.
The Bethlehem conference has been billed as an opportunity for Fatah to rejuvenate itself and shed its image as corrupt and nepotistic.
Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh, reporting from Bethlehem, said: “Despite the accusations of nepotism and political money a lot of the delegates we’ve been speaking to have been encouraged by the voting process and the names on the list of nominees.”
One of the favoured candidates for election is Marwan Barghouthi, at 50 a younger, articulate and popular member of the movement, currently in an Israeli jail.Also in the running is Mohammed Dahlan, 48, a Fatah strongman from Gaza
While delegates in Bethlehem filled in their voting sheets, about 300 Fatah members from the Gaza Strip, barred by Hamas from attending the conference, dictated their votes by telephone or sent them in by email.
The voting has twice been delayed and what was billed as a three-day conference has dragged on.
But Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator and a nominee for Fatah’s central committee, said that this was in itself positive for Fatah.
“Many people think that Fatah is like many other parties in this region where its leader sits somewhere in the mountain and he sends something and people will see with one eye, hear with one ear, speak with one tongue,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Fatah is unlike this, we have, I think, 2,325 delegates. We had 2,325 opinions, every point [was discussed] … but at the end of the day, now, we have a political programme.”
Delegates adopted the new political programme, which calls for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, earlier on Sunday. Erekat said that while the programme was a call for peace, it required Israel to fulfil its commitments.”Fatah wants peace, but peace cannot be obtained without Israel withdrawing to the 1967 border, establishing a Palestinian state on the ’67 border with East Jerusalem as it capital,” he told Al Jazeera.
The adopted programme reads: “The aim of Fatah as a liberation movement is to end the Israeli occupation and achieve independence for the Palestinian people in a state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
While the platform reserved the movement’s right to take up arms against Israeli occupation, it also encouraged Palestinians to use more peaceful means to
“At this stage, we are focusing on popular struggle, but the armed struggle is a right reserved to us in international law,” Nabil Shaath, a senior party member, said.
Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, described the Fatah platform as “not very promising.”
“But there is no other way for the Middle East but to sit down and strike a deal and agree on a peace for the region and arrangement between us and the Palestinians,” Barak said, calling on Abbas to enter negotiations.
Date published: 3rd August 2009
Source: Europa Press (translated into English by 3.071 Km).
Tel Aviv is considering banning international funding to NGOs critical of the campaign in Gaza
The Israeli government calls on Spain to “reconsider” the “disproportionate” funding to local NGOs critical of Tel Aviv
JERUSALEM, Aug. 2 (EUROPA PRESS) —
Senior Israeli government were considering banning foreign governments, including the Spanish, to finance local NGOs especially critical after Tel Aviv bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip, an issue already dealt with the representatives of countries Netherlands, United Kingdom, and this week, members of the Executive President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, according to local media.
The restlessness of the Israeli government is built around the case of the NGO Breaking the Silence (Shrovim Shtika), headquartered in Hebron (West Bank), which published on July 15 in an extensive report which reflected the testimony of 30 revealed that Israeli soldiers, according to the document, brutal tactics employed by the Israeli Army during the bombing in the Gaza Strip (Operation Cast Lead) in January, including “the use of phosphorous gas in populated areas the murder of innocent people with small arms and destruction of private property “under a” permissive atmosphere in the command structure that allowed the soldiers act without moral restraints. ”
One of the most robust within the Israeli government to international funding of NGOs is the head of policy planning in the Office of the Prime Minister, Ron Dermer, who considered this as a “shameless and unacceptable” interference in internal affairs israel. “That European governments funded NGOs in the war against United States is as unacceptable as the European funded NGOs not only oppose the policies of the democratically elected Government of Israel, but trying to delegitimize the Jewish State,” he added in statements to the Hebrew newspaper.
In response to the Israeli Government, a dozen Israeli Human Rights organizations have expressed their support today to break the silence in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, which is protesting the Israeli government’s attack on the group, which reached its climax when the government tried to prevent the influx of funds to NGOs.
“The testimonies of the soldiers,” the letter continued, “do not tell the story ‘official’ that the Israeli Government has communicated to the public, and put a question mark over the title of ‘most moral army in the world”, which employs Tel Aviv assiduously. “Instead of starting a public debate on these testimonies, the Government has chosen to wage a frontal assault with the publication of unsubstantiated allegations to undermine the credibility of the organization and the findings of the report,” according to the text signed by the association of NGOs, some of them financed by the Spanish Government.
According to the newspaper ‘Haaretz’, sources in the Israeli government met with representatives of the Directorate of International Cooperation, Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to “review the funding provided by Spain to NGOs dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Among the Israeli NGOs that have received funding Spanish is not only Breaking the Silence. Organizations like the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Israeli Committee against house demolitions, and Rabbis for Human Rights have also received financial support from the Spanish government, according to the newspaper ‘Jerusalem Post’.
The minister counselor of the Embassy of Spain in Tel Aviv, Juan González Barba, the newspaper said that the test that follows this funding is based on the principles of ” Spanish cooperation” and that “it is not always easy to judge and decide which groups should get the funding” quoted by the Hebrew newspaper.
Since Tel Aviv is understood that the criterion is “disproportionate” in relation to money that is given to Spain from other NGOs in Arab countries, according to official sources consulted by ‘Haaretz’ who, however, ensure that the original intention is to differentiate those groups “working for peace and coexistence” of those NGOs with a political purpose against the Israeli government. “
Date published: 10th June 2009
Source: Al-Jazeera English
The US envoy to the Middle East has reaffirmed Washington’s “unshakable” support for Israel despite public differences over the continued building of Israeli settlements.
George Mitchell, who met Israeli leaders on Tuesday, sought to reassure them that “we are two allies, two friends, and our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable”.
“And I want you to know we come here to talk not as adversaries in disagreement but as friends in discussion,” he told Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.
“We recognise that the issues are complex and many. But we hope that we’re going to work our way through them to achieve the objective that we share with you, and that is peace security and prosperity throughout the region.”
In the most public rift between the US and Israel in a decade, Barack Obama, the US president, has piled on the pressure on Netanyahu to stop settlement expansion and endorse a Palestinian state, neither of which the Israeli leader has done.
Netanyahu has said he will outline his policy on relations with the Palestinians in a speech on Sunday.Netanyahu has said so far said he is ready to hold talks with Abbas, but only focus on economic, security and political issues.
Palestinians have rejected his proposed shift of focus away from territorial issues.
Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh, reporting from Ramallah, said that there was some concern among Palestinian officials that Mitchell would push for peace talks even if Israel refused to back down on settlement expansion and a Palestinian state.
The Palestinians say such talks would not achieve anything positive, our correspondent reported.
Mitchell, who also met Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, and Shimon Peres, the president, is expected to hold talks with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday.
The US envoy has long advocated the need for a settlement freeze as necessary for any tangible progress in peacemaking.
Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said freezing the settlements would only freeze the problem between the Israelis and Palestinians, not resolve it.”It will only stop the conflict from escalating,” he said, adding that it remained to be seen whether Israel would listen to Obama since successive US leaders had made similar demands of Israeli but to no avail.
He pointed out, however, that Obama had called the settlements “illegitimate”, not just illegal, and that could mean the US taking a tougher position on the issue.
Despite the pressure from Washington, Israel remains apparently unfazed, continuing to build or expand settlements that are considered illegal internationally, arguing that so-called natural expansion cannot be stopped.
Settlement construction has doubled since Israel recommitted to halting it at the Annapolis conference 18 months ago and there are plans for 75,000 new housing units, one-third of which have already been approved.
Half a million Jews already live in settlement blocks in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
On his fourth visit to the region, Mitchell is also expected to hold meetings in Beirut, the Lebanese capital, on Thursday and Damascus, the Syrian capital, on Friday and Saturday.