Occupied: Headlines From Palestine

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More Apartheid: Palestinian Terror Attack Victims Not Eligible For Israeli Government Compensation

Palestinian family can apply to exceptions committee, while settlers are automatically compensated for similar attacks.
Revital Hovel For Haaretz
Though there’s no dispute in Israel that the July 31 arson attack on the Dawabsheh family in Duma was a terror attack, the family won’t be entitled to the government compensation granted Israeli victims of terror.
The attack killed two members of the family, father Sa’ad and 18-month-old Ali, and seriously wounded the mother and the elder son, aged 4.

The law governing compensation to victims of terror applies only to Israeli citizens and residents – including West Bank settlers, who live in territory Israel never annexed. In 2006, following a shooting spree by a Jewish gunman the previous year that killed four Arabs in Shfaram, the law was amended to encompass Jewish terror attacks against Israeli Arabs as well, as long as they “stem from the Israeli-Arab conflict.” But it still applies only to Israeli citizens or residents.
Thus to seek compensation under the law, the Dawabsheh family would have to apply to a special interministerial exceptions committee that has operated under the Defense Ministry’s auspices since 1999.

Earlier this week, MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint Arab List) asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to apply the law to all Palestinian victims of Jewish terror.

“The case of the Dawabsheh family underscores the absurdity that exists today in the legal and political arrangements related to paying compensation,” he wrote. “While the legal situation in Israel ensures payment of compensation for life and property to victims of attacks perpetrated by Palestinians, Palestinian victims of attacks perpetrated by Jews aren’t entitled to any compensation. In practice, this situation leaves the Dawabsheh family with no compensation, whereas Jewish victims in similar circumstances would be entitled to compensation from the state.”
Jabareen said this constitutes unacceptable discrimination. “Victims of nationalist attacks should be entitled to compensation from the state regardless of whether they are Jews or Arabs,” he wrote.

Dan Yakir, chief legal counsel of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, concurred. “This is another example of the intolerable gap between settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank, in every walk of life,” he said.

While settlers are compensated for terror attacks automatically, a Palestinian victim of terror must apply to the exceptions committee “and essentially ask the Defense Ministry to help him as an act of grace,” Yakir continued. “This is intolerable, especially in light of the incident’s severity and the severe harm the Dawabsheh family suffered. The Defense Ministry should grant full compensation to the family of its own initiative, even without a request from them.”

He also proposed that the Israel Defense Forces commander in the West Bank, who is technically the sovereign there, issue an order applying the principles of the Israeli law to Palestinian terror victims. “This is his moral obligation, and also his obligation under international law,” Yakir said.

Jabareen’s letter to Weinstein noted that the harm suffered by the Dawabshehs was “terrible and irreversible. No amount of money can compensate the family for its losses.”

Nevertheless, he added, that doesn’t justify refusing to pay it, especially since Palestinians are in extra need of such help.

“This is a population without means or resources, which has been under Israeli control for about five decades,” he wrote. “Therefore, the state cannot deny its obligation to take care of this population. As long as the state controls the Palestinian territories, it is obligated under international law to protect Palestinian residents of the place, including the obligation to compensate them for crimes of hatred and racism against them simply because they are Palestinians.”

Weinstein’s office said that Jabareen’s letter had been received “and will be answered in the customary fashion.”

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Apartheid Media: Israeli Occupation Orders Shutdown Of Palestinian Television Station


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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Extremists Spray Paint “Death To Arabs” Racist Graffiti On Two Palestinian Schools, Wall

JERUSALEM, June 30, 2015 (WAFA) – Anti-Arab, racist graffiti were spray-painted in an area near Beit Safafa, a small Arab neighborhood in southeastern Jerusalem, according to an Israeli police report.

Israeli police said that racist graffiti calling for slaughtering Arabs were sprayed in the location, while damages were caused to the locks of a nearby hair salon belonging to a Jerusalemite resident.

Israeli police claimed that an investigation was opened into the case.

Meanwhile, the Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported on a similar incident in Jerusalem, where racist graffiti was found on Tuesday morning near the Max Rayne Hand In Hand bilingual school, a Jewish-Arab institution, in Jerusalem.

According to a 2015 OCHA Protection of Civilians report, covering the period between February 28 and March 2, Israeli settlers reportedly set fire to a Greek Orthodox Church in East Jerusalem and to a mosque in Jab’a village, in Bethlehem, on 25 February. In both incidents, racist graffiti was spray-painted on the buildings’ walls.

“Hate graffiti (including the phrase “Death to Arabs”) was also sprayed this week on the walls of the Urif Secondary School for Boys in Urif village (Nablus),” reported OCHA.

On June 21, Israeli extremists sprayed racist graffiti on the walls running along a street in Tabariya, such as ‘Death to Arabs.’ This incident came only a few days after Israeli extremists set fire to the church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish in Galilee on Thursday, which led to the injury of two people, including a monk, and caused considerable damage to valuable property estimated at several million shekels.

The act of spraying anti-Arab graffiti has become a frequent occurrence in the West Bank and Jerusalem; many incidents of Israeli settlers’ hateful vandalism were reported by Palestinians targeting their property, including Muslim and Christian holy sites, where settlers often leave their price tag signature.

Price tag refers to an underground anti-Arab and Palestinian Israeli group that carries out terrorist acts against Palestinians in the occupied territories and inside Israel.

The Israeli government is yet to declare the group and its acts as terrorism despite a sharp rise in their attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and inside Israel.

Settlements are illegal under international law as they violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory.



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Israeli Occupation Trying To Shut Down ‘Palestine 48’ TV Channel

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who also serves as communications minister, instructed Communications Ministry to examine all means to prevent the station’s launch on Friday.
By Nati Tucker and Jack Khoury

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is acting to ban the Palestinian Authority’s new TV channel, Palestine 48, from going on air. The channel, based in Nazareth, is due to start broadcasting on Friday.

The prime minister, who also acts as communications minister, instructed Communications Ministry director general Shlomo Filber to immediately check whether the new channel was legal, with the intention of closing it down.

“We’ll examine all the criminal and administrative means at our disposal to prevent the station’s broadcasts. We’ll examine the legality of the broadcasts’ funding by the Palestinian Authority, among other things,” a ministry official said Wednesday following Netanyahu’s instructions.

The channel’s management and senior PA officials held a news conference in Nazereth on Wednesday announcing the channel’s launch.

“Of course the main coverage will be on the conflict,” Palestinian Communications Minister Riad Hassan told Channel 2 News. “That’s a matter of importance. But we don’t intend to make a political party out of it.”

Palestine 48 is one of several PA channels that can be received by satellite in many Arab households. But this is the first channel that intends to deal directly with Israeli Arabs.

The Communications Ministry supervises the activities of Yes and Hot, which operate under a state permit. However, satellite or internet broadcasts are unsupervised and the ministry cannot interfere with its broadcasts.

Palestine 48 said in response that Netanyahu had tried to close down Channel 10, harass Yedioth Aharonot and Al Midan Theater. “Now he’s trying to close the Palestinian channel, which is supposed to go on the air tomorrow. The Bibi-Regev government’s military administration will collapse in the face of freedom of expression and creativity. The new channel’s crews are preparing for direct broadcast from Nazereth tomorrow and for going to court to prevent the harassment.”

“So far the Palestinian television in Ramallah has received no notice of this. Hezbollah and Iran broadcast every day and haven’t been closed down. Instead of closing down channels Bibi should invest in developing Arab television industry in Israel,” the statement said.

Officials in Palestine 48 told Haaretz the direct broadcast and all other activities will be from Ramallah, so Netanyahu will have to close down Palestinian TV altogether.


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Israeli Extremists Burn Christian Shine Where Jesus Performed Miracle


The attack totally destroyed an external atrium of the shrine, which is where Christians believe Jesus fed the 5,000 in the miracle of the five loaves and two fish.(AFP/Menahem Kahana)

The attack totally destroyed an external atrium of the shrine, which is where Christians believe Jesus fed the 5,000 in the miracle of the five loaves and two fish.(AFP/Menahem Kahana)

TABGHA, Israel (AFP) — A suspected arson attack damaged a revered Christian shrine in northern Israel overnight, police said Thursday, as a church adviser pointed the finger at Jewish extremists.

The Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is where many Christians believe Jesus fed the 5,000 in the miracle of the five loaves and two fish.
“During the night a fire broke out at the Tabgha church,” a police statement said, indicating that police and fire service investigators were examining the scene.
“Graffiti in Hebrew was found on the wall of the church.”
A member of the Roman Catholic Benedictine order, which manages the site, said one of the buildings within the compound was completely destroyed in the blaze but the church itself was not damaged.
The Hebrew graffiti, which was found on another building within the complex, was part of a common Jewish prayer which says “idols will be cast out” – or destroyed, an AFP correspondent reported.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said two people who were in the compound at the time were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.
“There’s a strong possibility that it wasn’t an accident,” Rosenfeld told AFP.
Father Matthias said an external atrium was “totally destroyed” in the blaze.  “The church, thank God is in good condition,” he told AFP.
“We’re very happy that nothing happened to the church.”
Wadie Abu Nasser, an adviser to the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land, said the apparent arson attack would reverberate throughout the Christian world.
A priest walks past a graffiti reading in Hebrew "idols will be cast out" as he inspects the damage at the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, on the shores on the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, on June 18, 2015. (AFP/ Menahem Kahana)

A priest walks past a graffiti reading in Hebrew “idols will be cast out” as he inspects the damage at the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, on the shores on the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, on June 18, 2015. (AFP/ Menahem Kahana)

German envoy ‘shocked’
“Israel’s global image will be harmed,” he told Israeli public radio.”When you put one and one together, between the graffiti and the arson, you can reach a conclusion regarding the potential suspects.”
Tabgha was subjected to a previous attack in April 2014 in which church officials said a group of religious Jewish teenagers had damaged crosses and attacked clergy.
There has been a long line of attacks on Christian and Muslim holy places in Israel, in which the perpetrators are believed to have been Jewish extremists.
“I absolutely condemn such acts,” Israel’s deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely said in a statement.
German ambassador to Israel Andreas Michaelis said he was “shocked” by the incident.  “I strongly condemn this attack and every form of violence” against places of worship or people working in them, he said in a statement.
“Religious institutions must be as well protected in Israel as they are in Germany and Europe.”
 In April, vandals smashed gravestones at a Maronite Christian cemetery near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.
That incident prompted Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to meet church leaders and pledge a crackdown on religiously inspired hate crime.

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Israeli Occupation Extends Apartheid Law Against Palestinians For Another Year

PNN/ Bethlehem/
The Israeli Knesset last night has extended the “family reunification prevention” bill for Palestinian families for another year. 57 MKs have voted in favor of the extension, 20 voted against and 5 abstained.

The bill prevents family reunification between Palestinians living in Israel and their spouses from the West Bank or Gaza. It also prevents them from living in Israel, unless the husband is over 36, and the wife is over 26.

The bid was first presented during the Ariel Sharon cabinet in 2002, in hopes to “protect the Jewishness of the state” and prevent the return of Palestinian refugees from the back door, using a security pretext which divides Palestinians, and Judaizes the capital of Jerusalem.

Israeli authorities have regulated the law starting 2003 as a temporary law for a year. However, It has been extended yearly on a regular basis now upon recommendations by Israeli security forces.

The supreme court has denied numerous appeals presented by human rights organizations to cancel this bid which prevents thousands of Palestinian families from living together under the same roof, tearing families apart for years.

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Apartheid Swimming Pool: Israeli Occupation Forces Evacuate Palestinians From Pool

Bitter waters: Settlers invade ancient pool under Palestinian control Dozens of Israeli soldiers ordered Palestinian children to get out of a swimming pool in Area A – ostensibly under PA control – in advance of a visit by hundreds of settlers.

By Gideon Levy and Alex Levac

It’s a day that won’t be forgotten in the arid, far-flung village of Al-Karmel, in the southern reaches of Mount Hebron. Even now, two months later, the resident are overwrought when they tell the story of what happened, their rage and feeling of humiliation still palpable.

No blood was shed that day, no one was arrested or beaten, no home was demolished, no disaster occurred. But still, in Al-Karmel they haven’t forgotten. The mayor of the nearby city of Yatta remembers; the lifeguard, the gardener and the eyewitnesses remember. But above all it’s the children who remember: It was they were removed, forcefully and under the threat of rifles, from the water, because the settlers were coming. The lords of the land swept into the park under the aegis of the Israel Occupation Army, which kicked the Palestinians out of the only recreation site in the area.

It was April 7, the third day of Hol Hamo’ed (the intermediate days) of Passover; the same thing also happened a few days later, albeit on a smaller scale. But everyone in Al-Karmel remembers the day apartheid came to their ancient pool.

Isa Abu Sabiyah was at his home in the village. He’s 45, unemployed, the father of five children. In the late morning he noticed dozens of Israel Defense Forces soldiers swooping down on the swimming pool at the bottom of the slope below his home. He became anxious; he’d never seen so many soldiers at the pool.

Birket Al-Karmel, an ancient water reservoir, was renovated in recent years, at a cost of millions of shekels, and turned into a recreation site. We visited this pool many years ago, when it was still a neglected site dating from the Ottoman period. We watched the children of Al-Karmel jump from high up into the stagnant water, risking their lives with every leap. A series of pictures taken at the time by photographer Miki Kratsman became iconic images.

The pool was renovated with funds from Yatta and donations, collected from both wealthy West Bank Palestinians and from abroad, at a cost of about 4 million shekels ($1 million), and the place was transformed. The pool is surrounded by a low wall, to prevent from jumping in, and the city now is planning to install a high fence, to prevent access to the site when it is closed. The terraces, decorative landscaping, Hebron stones, washrooms and a spring that gushes from the rock next to the pool – all make this one of the most spectacular outdoor sites in the West Bank.

The renovations are scheduled to be completed this year. A restaurant and café will be built, at a cost of another 1.2 million shekels, says Yatta Mayor Mussa Mhamra, in addition to the fence. The fence is obviously sorely needed.

Abu Sabiyah watched as the soldiers rushed into the park. They surrounded the pool and ordered the children, all of them Palestinians, out of the water. Abu Sabiyah remembers that there were about 20 children swimming at the time, and all of them were forced to climb out. There were a few dozen local adults on hand as well. The soldiers, reinforced by a contingent from the Border Police, concentrated them all one corner of the park.

The troops’ “cleansing” operation was quickly accomplished. Abu Sabiyah called the Yatta municipality, which manages the site, to report on the intrusion. The mayor rushed over immediately, but to no avail.

Later that day, the lords of the land arrived. Hundreds of settlers. It was the Passover week holiday, and this was, according to the ads, a heritage trip sponsored by the Susiya Tour and Study Center, under IDF protection, as usual.

Some of the settlers jumped into the water, others stood and listened to the guides, who explained that this place belongs to the Jews. A few prayed – Abu Sabiyah says some of the men also put on tefillin.

“They even put dogs in the water. Did you ever see dogs in a pool? We don’t do that, but they do,” he adds.

This week, B’Tselem: the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, posted photographs shot by one of its field investigators of this disgraceful event. Hundreds of settlers, the men in skullcaps, triumphantly encircle the huge pool while a few of them splash about in the water. The Palestinians stand to one side, in the corner allotted to them, shamed and cowed, while armed soldiers secure the settlers.

It’s important to point out that all this occurred in Area A, which under the Oslo Accords is under Palestinian control. But who cares?

“If I go now to the [nearby] settlement of Carmel, would anyone let me in?” Abu Sabiyah says bitterly. “Would I be allowed into the settlement of Maon? And why would I go there, anyway? They come here only to make trouble.”

The settlers’ frolicking went on for about two hours, until dusk. The uninvited guests left at about 5:30 or 6 P.M. The settlers left, the soldiers left, the Border Policemen left, too.

A similar event occurred again about two weeks ago. The park’s gardener, Yakub Abu Haram, relates that at dawn on May 28, when he arrived for work, he saw a military force there, and about 10 settlers in the pool. The soldiers tried to prevent him from entering the site, even after he told them he works there. The lifeguard, Osama Mhamra, says that he too saw the soldiers from his house, before he left for the pool.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit says that the army has no information about this more recent occurrence.

As for the event during Passover, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit offered the following response when asked whether it’s the army’s task to secure events in which settlers invade Area A: “On April 7, 2015, specific authorization was given by the relevant personnel in Central Command for settlers to enter a pool in whose area the biblical settlement of Carmel was located in the past and which is now in Area A. Nothing exceptional was recorded during the event. The Palestinians were allowed to be present in the area of the compound, and there were Palestinian attendants there.

“As a rule, Israelis are not allowed into Area A, and any such entry requires specific authorization of the GOC. After the entry during Hol Hamo’ed of Passover, no additional entry of soldiers into the pool area has occurred that is known [to the IDF].”

A few children were playing in the pool this week in the middle of a broiling-hot day. There’s still no shade at the site; creating shaded areas will be part of the next stage of development. Mayor Mhamra arrived in his pickup, accompanied by a uniformed security man from the Palestinian Authority and a member of the municipal council. Mhamra and the councilman have saved a video clip of the Passover visit on their cellphones.

The mayor heads a metropolitan area that covers a huge area and has 110,000 inhabitants. The Al-Karmel pool is its only recreation site. A lawyer and a member of the Palestinian People’s Party, formerly the Communist Party, he was active on the Committee for the Protection of the Lands, a Palestinian organization. Only after the interview does he reveal that he speaks fluent Hebrew, as does the councilman, Yasser Bader. The two have just come from the village of Susiya, which the Palestinian prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, visited that day in the company of European diplomats who came to protest Israel’s plan to demolish the village.

Mhamra, in a white shirt, denies that the settlers’ visit on Passover was pre-arranged with him. “We have bitter experience with the settlers in the region,” he says. “They are undesirable guests here. They are ‘guests with swords.’ We will treat them in the same way they treat us. If we can go to Tel Aviv, if there is peace and equality, then we will host Israelis here. Now we will build a fence here and post guards day and night, so that similar incidents do not recur.”

To which the muscular lifeguard, Osama Mhamra, adds, “You know, if I were to try to get to Al-Aqsa , I would be shot.”

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Everyday Apartheid: Palestinian Laborers Barred From Israeli Farming Community Cafeteria

Times of Israel

Arab laborers working in Kibbutz Hatzerim near Beersheba are barred from eating in the kibbutz cafeteria, Yedioth Ahronoth reports.

According to the report, several kibbutz members asked the cafeteria’s management to tell employers of the laborers not to allow them to eat there, and the managers agreed. After a furor was raised, the management decided to allow the laborers to eat in the cafeteria if accompanied by a Jew.

A kibbutz member, Renen Yazerski, posted on Facebook: “Last week the kibbutz management decided that Arab laborers are good enough to enter the kibbutz and renovate and build our homes, but not, God forbid, eat in the same space with us in the cafeteria. Why are they not allowed to eat there? Because some mothers complained to the managers that the laborers look ‘scary’ […] a decision that is miserable, ugly, anti-democratic and racist…”

The kibbutz management said in its defense that “Kibbutz Hatzerim is private property, where no foreign persons are allowed without accompaniment.”

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Everyday Racism: Jerusalem Cinema Contracts Taxi Company For Jewish Only Drivers

For months on end Cinema City Jerusalem demanded that a contracted taxi company send only Jewish drivers for some of its workers. When the company refused, the megaplex cut its ties. An investigative by our Hebrew site, Local Call, in cooperation with ‘Ulpan Shishi,’ Channel 2′s flagship news broadcast.

By Yael Marom

“If she wants a Jewish driver, she’ll get a Jewish driver, I don’t understand what difference it makes.”

“The two of them just asked for a Jewish driver.”

“A woman needs to make it to Mevaseret Zion, I would like a Jewish driver to come pick her up.”

“One must ask gently and diplomatically for a Jewish driver for the girls.”

These were the words the manager and shift manager at Jerusalem’s Cinema City used when talking to the ride coordinator of the taxi company that drove movie theater workers home at night (the company employs both Jewish and Arab workers). The discriminatory demands were made in recorded phone conversations, as well as by special vouchers that had the words “Jewish driver” written on them, for which Cinema City paid a high price. Local Call was able to get a hold of both the recordings and the vouchers, which are now being exposed for the first time in a special investigative report that conducted in cooperation with “Ulpan Shihi,” the flagship weekend news program on Israel’s Channel 2.

After a long period of time in which the ride organizer at the cab company tried to object to Cinema City’s discriminatory and racist demand, which directly affected the livelihoods of Arab taxi drivers, a senior manager at the movie theater threatened that Cinema City would cut its ties with the company — a threat that eventually became reality.

According to Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation as well as Israel’s Equal Opportunities Law, discriminating against workers due to their origin, nationality or religion is strictly forbidden.

A Jewish driver is part of the service

At the end of February 2014, Jerusalem’s glitzy Cinema City, which includes 19 movie theaters and a small shopping mall, opened to the public. The “A. Mor Hasaot” transportation company won the tender to provide taxis for approximately 20 workers. The company provided nine permanent drivers for the job — three of them Jewish and six of them Arabs from East Jerusalem.

Thair Raga, a 36-year-old cab driver from East Jerusalem, was appointed to be in charge of coordinating the night rides according to the demands made by the Cinema City shift managers. “We got used to the workers, the drivers were nice, there was no problem, everything worked well,” he says.

But three months after the complex opened, three Jewish teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank, followed by the kidnapping and murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir from Jerusalem’s Shuafat neighborhood, there was a military operation in the West Bank and a war in Gaza. War, fear and hate flooded the streets of Jerusalem.

And then everything changed. The workers at Cinema City began saying they were afraid of Arab drivers and demanded that only Jewish drivers take them home. “Everything was fine until the war began in the summer,” says Raga. “The female workers began to get scared, and then it turned into a phenomenon whereby the workers were demanding a Jewish driver, and Cinema City requires us to meet those demands, since it is part of the service. At first I told myself that we would make it work for the time being, since the situation was very difficult in Jerusalem and there are Jewish drivers in the company, and then it would pass. But it didn’t pass.”

According to Raga, when the workers began to feel that their demands for “Jewish drivers” were not being honored, they told the Cinema City management that they would go on strike, and some of them even threatened to quit.

Cinema City Jerusalem. (photo: פארוק/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Raga began receiving more and more requests for a “Jewish driver.” “The shift managers would call and demand a Jewish driver, but would do it out of shame,” he said. “At first they would say a specific name of a Jewish driver that they want, so that they wouldn’t hurt my feelings or have to say outright that they want a Jewish driver.”

What about the rest of the Arab drivers? How did they react to this demand?

“I found myself between a rock and hard place, between Arab drivers to whom I owe an explanation, and the Cinema City management. In the end, I had to explain to them, and they were obviously upset. Sometimes I had to tell the other drivers: ‘Guys, it’s going to be a shift full of racists today, there is no work left for us’.”

10 percent extra per Jewish driver

The summer ended, the war came to an end, Jerusalem calmed down, but for some of the workers at Cinema City, it became acceptable to refuse to ride with an Arab driver. They continued to demand Jewish taxi drivers — a celebration of racism that directly harmed the Arab drivers’ livelihood, and led to higher costs for the company, which was forced to contract Jewish drivers, who do not regularly work with the company, in order to provide the service to the workers.

As 2014 came to a close, Raga decided that he was no longer willing to remain silent. “The situation in Jerusalem calmed down, and I began opposing the policy. I told them that the next diver in line would take the workers, and that it doesn’t matter if its Chaim or Ahmad.”

Raga tried to talk to the managers and workers at Cinema City about the issue. On February 19 of this year, Merav Basher, one of the top managers and a representative of the owners of Cinema City Jerusalem, sent an email to the workers in which she gave guidelines for conduct vis-a-vis the cab company. In it she wrote:

“It is important to be sensitive to the issue of Arab/Jewish drivers. After the HaPisga cab company was fined for a request for a Jewish driver by a client, the Transportation Ministry is checking all the cab companies. One must ask in a gentle and diplomatic fashion for a Jewish driver for the girls.” She also named Raga as someone who is “causing trouble.”

Thair Reg'i, who exposed Cinema City's discriminatory policies toward Arab cab drivers, is seen inside his taxi. (photo: Activestills.org)

The only thing that really occurred in the wake of Raga’s attempts was that the workers understood that Jewish drivers would cost more. And so, toward the end of February, Basher and the manager of A. Mor Hasaot held a meeting, during which it was agreed that Cinema City would pay 10 percent more (on top of the pre-established cost) for a Jewish driver.

In order to keep track, the vouchers for ordering a driver would be marked to show that they were for Jewish drivers. “I told them that I want to differentiate from a Jewish driver from a regular one on the bill. They asked me whether to require two signatures or write ‘Jewish driver,’ and I asked that they write down that the driver was Jewish. They agreed,” Raga tells me as he smiles victoriously. It is obvious to him that the only reason anyone will believe him is because he recorded the conversations. From that moment on, he began demanding that the shift managers call him on the phone in order to make the order, and recorded them, one after another, as they clearly request a ‘Jewish driver.’”

On March 9, Raga decided to confront Basher once again and recorded their conversation. Throughout the conversation he explains to Basher that even workers who do not ride alone with the driver are demanding to be driven only by a Jew. Basher didn’t seem too fazed: “Thair, it is possible that sometimes you order a cab for someone, and then it is decided to add more people to ride along with her. If she wants a Jewish driver, there will be a Jewish driver, what difference does it make? I don’t understand.”

Raga insisted that the cost of a Jewish driver would be much higher, especially if the driver will be making a number of stops. Basher responded: “But this is the situation. If it doesn’t work for you, we can go our separate ways. What difference does the number of stops make?” and added, “I don’t see a problem with any of this. It doesn’t matter to me whether the driver is Jewish, Circassian, Christian or Spanish. It doesn’t matter to me. As long as the driver makes as many stops as he is asked to.”

Raga told Basher about an incident in which one of the workers refused to ride in his cab, since they want “one of ours,” and explained how it made him feel. “It was as if I was trash. And you’re supporting them. That’s how you are treating me, Merav, and it hurts me personally,” reminding her that he has been working with her since Cinema City’s opening day. Basher promised to take care of the issue. Instead, she continued to support the demands of the workers, justified their fear and emphasized the need to provide them with a sense of security.

Two days later, on March 11, Raga called Yaniv Turgeman, the CEO of Cinema City Jerusalem and demanded he get involved and put an end to the discrimination. This conversation was also recorded. Turgeman, who only “barely heard” about “this nonsense,” said that he “told Merav and you should tell everyone that this is unacceptable,” while on the other hand said that in the case that there is a Jewish driver, and this is what the workers want, this is what they must receive.

On March 23, after midnight, Basher called Raga. “Listen, I have a problem. I have a woman who needs to get to Mevaseret Zion. I want a Jewish driver to come pick her up,” she demanded. Raga explained that he had no Jewish drivers available, and that a Jewish driver from another station will want cash for his services.

Basher responded: “There is nothing I can do, nothing. I need this. I cannot send this woman to ride in fear. If not, I will let her take a cab and pay her back tomorrow. This is part of the service that you are supposed to give me.” Basher became angry over the fact that there was a lack of Jewish drivers that night, threatening Raga: “I am putting an end to this tomorrow. I don’t have the energy. I’m moving to a different company. Egged [an Israeli transportation company] will provide me with three people a night.”

When shame is too much to bear

On Sunday, May 3, Merav announced that Cinema City would be immediately cutting ties with A. Mor Hasaot.

I have been listening to Raga’s recordings for weeks. One recording followed by another. Friendly conversations that always reach that inevitable moment in which the shift manager must openly use the words “Jewish driver.” The shame in their voices is too much to bear. From the conversations with them, it is clear that they understand that the policy is racist and hurtful, but none of them did anything about it.

During one of my meetings with Raga I asked him why he, too, didn’t remain silent, especially after coming to terms with the personal price he would be forced to pay. Many others would have just put aside their pride and moved on.

“First of all, it’s me. I don’t know how to shut up,” he says. “I pay my taxes. I do everything this country demands of me. I don’t turn my back. So why is it that when I deserve to be treated like a human being I need to take a step back?”

‘Unsatisfactory service’

This investigative report is a result of a joint effort by our Hebrew site, Local Call, and “Ulpan Shishi,” the flagship weekend news program on Israel’s Channel 2. Channel 2 asked Cinema City to respond to the entire affair. The following is their full response:

“The company’s work was terminated over professional differences alone, without any relation to the [ethnic] origin of the company drivers. Cinema City, both in Jerusalem and across the country, employs Arabs in a range of different positions, including management. Thus, the claims of racism and discrimination do not reflect the reality and certainly not the values of Cinema City.

“Due to continual professional dissatisfaction that stemmed, among other things, from dropping off workers at the wrong addresses, as well as significant tardiness of drivers in picking up workers and unsatisfactory service on their part, it was decided to switch to a different company. It must be stated that there is an additional reason for switching companies, although we are unable to reveal the reason for privacy reasons.

“We must emphasize that today, Egged provides rides to the workers in Jerusalem, and the service is provided by both Jewish and Arab drivers. Unfortunately, A. Mor chose to seek revenge on Cinema City after the latter ended the contract through false and biased claims.”

The response was formulated by the office of PR king Rani Rahav. The response only confirms the fact that Cinema City did exactly what Basher threatened to do in her conversation with Raga, and began working with a different company. The “satisfactory” service was, in effect, providing Jewish drivers on demand. Raga refused to provide this service.