Occupied: Headlines From Palestine

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Apartheid Policies Put Israel on Path to Becoming Failed State

Apartheid Policies Put Israel on Path to Becoming Failed State

It is not right-wing governments that institutionalized racial domination here; the process started decades before they took power.

Roy Isacowitz for Haaretz

I like and respect Benjamin Pogrund enormously, but he is wrong on three counts (“Israeli policy is not apartheid,” Haaretz  August 25.)
Since 2002, apartheid has been defined as a crime against humanity in international law. That definition is enshrined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which refers to the definition of apartheid in the 1973 United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.

South Africa (or to be accurate southern Africa) is only mentioned once in the ICSPCA, as providing an example of the “policies and practices” of racial discrimination. It then goes on to define them in detail, without reference to South Africa. The Rome Statute doesn’t mention South Africa at all, other than specifying it as a signatory to the treaty (from 1998) and in various footnotes and references.
All of which means that apartheid has an international legal standing beyond and irrespective of its roots in South Africa. It is the exemplar of apartheid, but by no means the required model.

All that is necessary is that a country commit “inhumane acts,” as defined by the statute, in the context of an “institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime,” as paraphrased in the first paragraph of Article 7 of the Rome Statute.

Anyone who thinks Israel fits that description can legitimately and accurately describe it as an apartheid state. Those are the facts. The rest is just semantics – and the pedantic flogging of a dead horse.
The fact that Israel is not a signatory to the Rome Statute has no bearing on the validity of its definition of apartheid in international law.

But it’s another statement by Pogrund that’s the real hair-raiser. “What [Bradley] Burston insists is apartheid,” he writes, “are the actions of a right-wing government behaving like a right-wing government.”

Really? As if the occupation began with Benjamin Netanyahu and he, rather than Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, was the godfather of the settlements. As if it was a right-wing government that conducted the ethnic cleansing of 1948 and developed Israel’s clandestine nuclear capacity (according to foreign reports), thus thrusting the entire region into a nuclear arms race.

As if Israel’s current government is a Jewish version of Margaret  Thatcher’s or Silvio  Berlusconi’s – a little rough around the edges, a bit too strident in its pronouncements and no friend of the working man – but basically well within the Western, democratic consensus.

Israel’s colonial dispossession and subjugation of the Palestinians began long before Netanyahu and long before the first right-wing government took office in 1977. In fact, it began long before the first so-called left-wing government took office as well.

The Israel of today – irredentist, paranoid, intolerant and increasingly unhinged – is the culmination of a process that began at the turn of the 20th century, when the early Zionists created the myth of a “land without people for a people without land” and set about expropriating Palestinian land. (Not dissimilar, by the way, to the hundreds of years of racial discrimination that preceded the formal system known as apartheid.)

It took more than one group of right-wing Israeli politicians, however toxic, to create the “institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime,” described by the Rome Statute. It took over 100 years of determined effort – including wars, massacres, population upheavals, mass detentions, discriminatory legislation, military administration, arbitrary killings and so on – until Israel got to where it is today.

Rather than Pogrund’s blithe “right-wing government behaving like a right-wing government,” (with its promise that everything could just change at the next elections,) Israel is a solid, seemingly immovable edifice of colonial revanchism and ethnic superiority, led by a fanatic cult bent on ultimate glory or suicide.

In such a situation, I’m afraid Pogrund’s prescription of “Keep strong, stay on track” is of little comfort.

And then there’s Pogrund’s outlandish statement that “Opponents [of the apartheid regime in South Africa] felt helpless to stem the tide. But they stood firm and went on believing in a nonracist and democratic South Africa.”

Come on, Benjy, that’s just a little too much icing on the rainbow-nation cake. Some, mainly white, opponents stood firm and kept on believing, but many others – black, white and in-between – turned to violence. The regime deliberately turned tribes against each other; hundreds of thousands of people died in ethnic violence. Even more left the country in despair. The economy collapsed and South Africa became a failed state. Over 20 years later, it has yet to recover.

That South Africa didn’t disintegrate into civil war was more luck, Nelson Mandela and F. W. de Klerk than anything else. It could easily have gone the other way. Is Pogrund really recommending that we chance the same thing here in Israel?


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It’s Time to Admit It. Israeli Policy Is What It Is: Apartheid

Bradley Burston for Haaretz

What I’m about to write will not come easily for me.

I used to be one of those people who took issue with the label of apartheid as applied to Israel. I was one of those people who could be counted on to argue that, while the country’s settlement and occupation policies were anti-democratic and brutal and slow-dose suicidal, the word apartheid did not apply.

I’m not one of those people any more.  Not after the last few weeks.

Not after terrorists firebombed a West Bank Palestinian home, annihilating a family, murdering an 18-month-old boy and his father, burning his mother over 90 percent of her body – only to have Israel’s government rule the family ineligible for the financial support and compensation automatically granted Israeli victims of terrorism, settlers included.

I can’t pretend anymore. Not after Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, explicitly declaring stone-throwing to be terrorism, drove the passage of a bill holding stone-throwers liable to up to 20 years in prison.

The law did not specify that it targeted only Palestinian stone-throwers. It didn’t have to.
Just one week later, pro-settlement Jews hurled rocks, furniture, and bottles of urine at Israeli soldiers and police at a West Bank settlement, and in response, Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rewarded the Jewish stone-throwers with a pledge to build hundreds of new settlement homes.

This is what has become of the rule of law. Two sets of books. One for Us, and one to throw at Them. Apartheid.

We are what we have created. We are what we do, and the injury we do in a thousand ways to millions of others. We are what we turn a blind eye to. Our Israel is what it has become: Apartheid.

There was a time when I drew a distinction between Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies and this country I have loved so long.
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No more. Every single day we wake to yet another outrage.

I used to be a person who wanted to believe that there were moral and democratic limits – or, failing that, pragmatic constraints – to how low the prime minister was willing to go, how far he was willing to bend to the proud proponents of apartheid, in order to bolster his power.

Not any more. Not after Danny Danon.

Not when the prime minister’s choice to represent all of us, all of Israel at the United Nations, is a man who proposed legislation to annex the West Bank, effectively creating Bantustans for Palestinians who would live there stateless, deprived of basic human rights.

The man who will represent all of us at the United Nations, the man who will speak to the Third World on our behalf, is the same man who called African asylum seekers in Israel “a national plague.”

The man who will represent all of us at the United Nations is the same politician who proposed legislation aimed at crippling left-leaning NGOs which come to the aid of Palestinian civilians and oppose the institution of occupation, while giving the government a green light to keep financially supporting right-wing NGOs suspected of channeling funds to support violence by pro-settlement Jews.

What does apartheid mean, in Israeli terms?

Apartheid means fundamentalist clergy spearheading the deepening of segregation, inequality, supremacism, and subjugation.

Apartheid means Likud lawmaker and former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter calling Sunday for separate, segregated roads and highways for Jews and Arabs in the West Bank.

Apartheid means hundreds of attacks by settlers targeting Palestinian property, livelihoods, and lives, without convictions, charges, or even suspects. Apartheid means uncounted Palestinians jailed without trial, shot dead without trial, shot dead in the back while fleeing and without just cause.

Apartheid means Israeli officials using the army, police, military courts, and draconian administrative detentions, not only to head off terrorism, but to curtail nearly every avenue of non-violent protest available to Palestinians.

Late last month, over the explicit protest of the head of the Israeli Medical Association and human rights groups combatting torture, Israel enacted the government’s “Law to Prevent Harm Caused by Hunger Strikes.” The law allows force-feeding of prisoners, even if the prisoner refuses, if the striker’s life is deemed in danger.

Netanyahu’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who pushed hard for passage of the bill, has called hunger strikes by Palestinian security prisoners jailed for months without charge or trial “a  new type of suicide terrorist attack through which they will threaten the State of Israel”.

Only under a system as warped as apartheid, does a government need to label and treat non-violence as terrorism.

Years ago, in apartheid South Africa, Jews who loved their country and hated its policies, took courageous roles in defeating with non-violence a regime of racism and denial of human rights.

May we in Israel follow their example.


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Palestinian Prisoner Held In Solitary Confinement For Over 4 Years By Israeli Occupation

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian prisoner Dirar Abu Sisi is still being held by Israeli authorities in solitary confinement since his detention began over four years ago, a prisoners’ rights groups reported.The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said Wednesday that Abu Sisi told his lawyer that Israeli authorities are imposing several sanctions on him, including preventing him from receiving family visits in the Nafha jail where he is currently detained.PPS added that an Israeli court had recently sentenced Abu Sisi to 21 years of jail.In March, a Beersheva District Court reportedly convicted Abu Sisi in a plea bargain arrangement wherein the prosecution was set to ask the court for the 21-year sentence after several initial charges were dropped.PPS head Qadura Fares could not give further information regarding the recent sentence.Abu Sisi, 42, was an engineer and former technical director at Gaza’s sole electricity plant. He reportedly disappeared from a train in Ukraine in February 2011, and Israel later announced he was being held by Israeli authorities. According to a summary of charges given by Israel, Abu Sisi was on trial for “activity in a terrorist organization, hundreds of counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and arms production offenses” as a member of Hamas.His Israeli lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, said following his detention that her client had made confessions “under very heavy duress which I would characterize as torture.”Israeli media reported at the time that Abu Sisi admitted to assisting the Hamas movement in improving its rocket capabilities.Hamas has denied that Abu Sisi had any connection to the organization.In order to end mass hunger strikes by prisoners held in Israeli jails in May 2012, Israeli authorities had pledged to move 19 prisoners held in long-term solitary confinement for so-called security reasons, one of whom was Abu Sisi, according to prisoner’s rights group Addameer.While all but Abu Sisi were moved from solitary confinement during the deal, Addameer warned following the agreement that continued use of the practice shows that “Israel’s use of isolation for punitive reasons as a policy remains unchanged.”Solitary confinement and isolation are both reportedly used in Israeli prisons. Detainees in solitary confinement are held in an empty cell containing only a mattress and a blanket, and rely on the Israeli Prison Service to address all other needs.Following the May 2012 deal, Abu Sisi said that “keeping me in solitary confinement is a practice of revenge by the Israeli prison service to satisfy the public in Israel.”


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Apartheid Media: Israeli Occupation Orders Shutdown Of Palestinian Television Station

JPost

Israel’s public security minister has decreed that a new Palestinian TV station geared towards Palestinian citizens of Israel cannot broadcast from Israel for six months.

Gilad Erdan signed an order on Thursday barring the Palestinian Authority-funded station F48, or Palestine 48, from operating from its headquarters in the Northern Israeli city of Nazareth. The decision was made because of the Palestinian Authority’s role in the station, not because of questionable content being shown on the channel.

Erdan said that he does not want “Israel’s sovereignty to be harmed” or for the Palestinian Authority to gain a “foothold” in the country.

Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the head of the Communications Ministry to work on shuttering the station. Netanyahu urged ministry staffers to investigate the channel’s legality, particularly with regard to Palestinian Authority funding.

Riad Hassan, head of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, called the move “illegal” and said that two Israeli companies who produce content for the channel will contest the action in Israel’s Supreme Court.

The channel, which debuted on air last month, will continue to produce content from its other headquarters in Ramallah, in the West Bank. Hassan has said the station’s goal is to illuminate the “social, cultural and economic difficulties” of Israeli Arabs.


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Absurd: Palestinian Citizens Of Israel In Kfar Sava Receive Electricity From PA

In Kfar Sava’s Arab neighborhood, residents get electricity from the PA

Even though residents of the Abu Sneineh neighborhood pay city taxes, the connection between them and the central Israeli municipality is fairly nominal.

Many residents of Kfar Sava don’t even know there’s an Arab neighborhood in their city called Abu Sneineh. The neighborhood, comprising several structures where an extended clan of some 100 people live, is located near the Tomb of Benjamin at Neveh Yamin.

As we stand on the roof of the home of Ibrahim Abu Sneineh, we can see Route 6 nearby, beyond it the separation barrier and after that Qalqilyah, about 150 meters to the east. The closest point in Kfar Sava is the Menuha Nehona cemetery, about a kilometer away.

Residents of Abu Sneineh, most of whom work in sanitation and construction, vote for the Kfar Sava municipality and are meant to pay it arnona (local taxes), but the connection between the municipality and the neighborhood is fairly nominal. Parents drive their children every morning to school in the Arab town of Jaljuliya, five kilometers south. The residents get their electricity from Qalqilyah, in the West Bank.

When Ibrahim says this, I don’t believe him and demand proof, and he shows me the receipt from the Palestinian Authority. Residents say the only service they get from Kfar Sava is a weekly visit by a contractor’s garbage truck that empties the dumpster, and even that isn’t done properly, Ibrahim claims.

“I pay 13,000 shekels ($3,430) a year in arnona, but we sweep the streets ourselves,” says Ibrahim, 72, a former construction worker and father of seven. “I told Mayor [Yehuda] Ben Hamo to send us one worker to sweep a little, and I’m told ‘there’s no budget.’ It’s true that there are those here who don’t pay arnona, but that’s like asking what came first, the chicken or the egg?”

His nephew Samir, 60, is more blunt. “Ben Hamo came before the elections with his entourage and told everyone that they have to give us services like every Kfar Sava resident. Since then all we get is letters from the Bailiff’s Office and retroactive demands to pay arnona.”

Until 1948, the Abu Sneineh family lived in the village of Ijlil, at the Glilot junction, where Cinema City now stands. In 1936, Sabri Abu Sneineh, the family patriarch, bought the land that is now Abu Sneineh and built a house there. When the War of Independence began, the family fled Ijlil for Abu Sneineh. “They told residents to leave Ijlil and in a week or two they could return. They left and never went back,” says Samir. As for Cinema City, Ibrahim says, “I saw a movie there once.”

The first years in Abu Sneineh were hard, as the military government wouldn’t let them move about freely. The enclave was located in no-man’s land, only around 100 meters from the Jordanian border. For many years the enclave fell between the cracks, with no local authority interested in the little neighborhood so close to the border.

The Six­-Day War gave the growing family some breathing space. “The situation improved; we could go to Tel Aviv or to Nablus,” said Ibrahim. “We stopped feeling like we were under siege.” At the time the enclave was part of Jaljulya, and to this day many family members use the health clinic and welfare offices in that town.

Fifteen years ago, the residents got the biggest blow of all: The Israel Electric Corporation strung two high-tension wires very close to the enclave. A glance at the area shows that the wires did not have to be positioned so close to the homes; in fact, if the IEC had wanted to save money and run such a major power line through the area, it could have run it through the planned industrial zone that to this day has not been built.

The residents took a lawyer and petitioned the High Court of Justice, but to no avail. “How could we prevail over the electric company?” asks Ibrahim.

The power lines’ location had serious consequences for Abu Sneineh. No homes can be built within a 150-meter radius of them and one cannot stand under the lines for more than three hours a day. Thus the enclave lost 42 dunams (10.4 acres) without being compensated. Residents say that in the years since the power lines were erected, five of them have died of cancer.

“Before the pylons, we had no cancer here. Of course every person is destined to die, but not at such high rates,” says Ibrahim. “It was a way to expropriate our land. Otherwise, why put the electricity lines here, so close to the homes? They stole from us because we are from the Arab sector.”

Samir agrees. “They thought of how to restrict and block us so that we shouldn’t expand. They gave preference to the future industrial zone over the Arabs, since it’s no tragedy if their lands are ruined… We lost 42 dunams, while each dunam in the industrial zone is worth 3 million shekels.”

According to Samir the IEC now wants to run a third high-tension line, this one even closer to the homes, and the families are trying to foil that plan in the National Planning and Building Council.

Ironically, with all the damage the IEC has done to the enclave, Abu Sneineh doesn’t get electricity from Israel because the homes don’t have occupancy permits. “I told them that we were here before there was occupancy,” said Ibrahim.

The Kfar Sava municipality said, “The Abu Sneineh neighborhood came to be in an unplanned fashion. The municipality has approved a master plan, under which building permits can be issued to homes built without permits. In addition, the municipality invested millions of shekels on an access road and fixing the sewerage infrastructure. We are vehemently against adding electricity infrastructure next to the neighborhood, and believe the state must find a more worthy alternative.”


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Israeli Occupation Blasts French Peace Initiative

June 21, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attacked the French government’s initiative to promote a United Nations Security Council resolution attempting to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reported the Israeli daily Haartez.

It said that, several hours before he is scheduled to meet French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Jerusalem, Netanyahu strongly lashed out at France’s call to resume peace talks, saying that the plan was a “dictate” that would hurt Israel’s security.

‘We firmly reject attempts to impose international dictates on us, for the sake of security and peace,’ the Middle East Monitor quoted Netanyahu.

On Saturday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius urged the resumption of Middle East peace talks, while warning that continued Israeli settlement building in the occupied Palestinian Territories damaged chances of reaching a final deal.

During a visit to Cairo, Fabius said that, ‘We need Israel’s security to be totally assured, that is essential, but at the same time we need the rights of the Palestinians to be recognized because without justice there can be no peace.’

‘From this point of view, when settlement building continues, [the prospect of] a two-state solution recedes,’ he added.

The Middle East monitor said that, “Relations between France and Israel have been strained for the past year. The French government was a vocal critic of Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer and the parliament in Paris further upset Israel last December by voting to recognize Palestine.”

T.R/M.H


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Israeli Rights Group Blasts Occupation Army For Failing To Protect Palestinians From Extremist War Crime ‘Settlers’

 

Yesh Din report details failures of training and enforcement, as well as ‘culture set by commanders that denies army’s policing duties.’

By Gili Cohen

A recent report by the human rights organization Yesh Din claims that the Israel Defense Forces does not do enough to protect Palestinians in the West Bank. The study focused on the practice of what it terms “standing idly by,” of Israeli soldiers not moving to protect civilians from violence by Jewish settlers.

Over a period of 18 months Yesh Din, together with Breaking the Silence, another rights group, collected statements from soldiers as well as 65 questionnaires about the practice, and also analyzed relevant protocols and instructions that were distributed to soldiers.

According to the report, the picture that emerges from these materials is of a tone set by commanding officers that “denies the army’s obligation,” including under international law, “to carry out the routine and daily policing and law enforcement activities that are among the main duties of an army that has held occupied territory for nearly five decades.”

The researchers found that the IDF conducts limited training in handling violence by Israeli citizens, passing responsibility for this to the Israel Police. Their report quotes a captain in the Kfir Brigade as saying: “During basic training, a soldier is taught to fight, to attack… The only time he is taught to deal with the civilian population is in the last week of training. How much time does he spend on it ultimately? Five or six days?

“That’s a problem since he ends up doing tasks the police should be doing. Preventing a demonstration isn’t a military mission, no matter how you view it,” the captain said.

While the officer stressed that training emphasizes that the protocols of warfare, for opening fire or for arresting suspects, are identical for Jews and Arabs, a Nahal Brigade soldier who was asked in January 2014 what he would do if he saw a knife-wielding settler running toward a Palestinian said he didn’t know the protocol for such a situation. “I certainly wouldn’t shoot” the settler, he said.

The officer said an entire chapter of the 70-page regulations is devoted to circumstances designated as “a red line” that, if crossed by settlers, should lead to a response: causing bodily harm to Palestinians or damaging their property, hurling stones at Israeli security forces, verbal or physical violence directed at them, damaging IDF or police property.

The report notes that “standing by” is not a violation of military law and no soldier has ever been prosecuted for this or for related inappropriate behavior. Of 30 complaints filed by Yesh Din, 17 were investigated but no one was prosecuted. Yesh Din wants the practice defined as criminal behavior.

In a response, the IDF said that after examining the report, it appears to be “tendentious” and its analysis of the facts “biased.”

“The report ignores numerous and significant steps that the IDF has taken in this regard over the years. The authors provided selected facts, while ignoring official statements by the army taking responsibility for law and order in the West Bank, the statement said. “The IDF has updated procedures and regulations, established teams including military and civilian representatives who strive to synchronize the activities of all relevant bodies, along with measures against ideological offenders.”