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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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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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No Surprise : Israeli Occupation Releases Suspects Held In Terrorist Arson Attack

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel has released all suspects detained in raids as part of a probe into the firebombing of a Palestinian home that killed an 18-month-old child and his father, Israeli authorities said Monday.They did not provide the number of those detained in the raids early Sunday in Jewish settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank near the Palestinian village of Duma, where the July 31 firebombing occurred.Outposts in the Israeli-occupied West Bank are notorious for housing young Jewish hardliners, referred to as hilltop youth.”All those arrested yesterday for interrogation have been released,” a spokeswoman for the Shin Bet domestic security agency told AFP, without providing further details.The raids came as Israel seeks to crack down on Jewish extremists following the firebombing that also critically wounded the toddler’s mother and four-year-old brother.The attack has led to pressure on the government to act against Jewish extremists accused of being behind a series of hate crimes and nationalist attacks, including a stabbing attack at a Gay Pride parade in West Jerusalem last month that killed a 16-year-old girl and wounded five people.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has labelled the firebombing “terrorism” and pledged to use all legal means to track down the perpetrators.However, many Palestinians have pointed out that Israeli government policies — including support for settlement expansion and frequent impunity for settlers — allowed for the firebombing to take place.In addition to Sunday’s raids, three alleged Jewish extremists have been placed in a controversial form of detention without trial usually used for Palestinians.Over 85 percent of investigations into settler violence are closed without indictments, Israeli rights group Yesh Din says.The 100 or so Jewish outposts in the occupied West Bank are not officially recognized by the Israeli government but receive support and assistance from government ministries.Since occupying the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has built over 125 Jewish-only settlements across the territories with a settler population of over 500,000, in contravention of international law.


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Headlines From Palestine: July 23, 2015

Israeli Occupation Forces Murder 53-year-old Palestinian , Second Incident In Two Days

Israeli forces shot and killed a 53-year-old Palestinian and injured his two sons during an arrest raid in the town of Beit Ummar in northern Hebron early Thursday, witnesses said.Falah Hammad Abu Mariais the 17th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces this year, three of whom have been killed since the beginning of this month.

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Israeli Occupation Demolishes Two Bedouin Homes In The Negev

Bulldozers under the armed guard of Israeli forces demolished two homes in the Bedouin villages of Hura and Khashem Zanna in the Negev on Wednesday, local sources said.The Israeli Land Authority did not immediately respond for comment.

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

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.

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Israeli Occupation Demolishes Two Bedouin Homes In The Negev

BEERSHEBA (Ma’an) — Bulldozers under the armed guard of Israeli forces demolished two homes in the Bedouin villages of Hura and Khashem Zanna in the Negev on Wednesday, local sources said.The Israeli Land Authority did not immediately respond for comment.

The demolitions come amid ongoing efforts to push local Bedouin Palestinian communities from the area.Earlier this month, members of the Knesset — the Israeli parliament — began discussing a plan shelved in 2013 that would forcibly relocate tens-of-thousands of Bedouin Palestinians.The Prawer Plan was approved by the Israeli government in 2011 but frozen in 2013 amid widespread protest among Palestinians within Israel and international condemnation.Israeli minister of agriculture Uri Ariel of the Habayit Hayehudi party (Jewish Home) has since reintroduced the plan. His party conditioned joining Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s government coalition in March on reinstating the Prawer Plan.Residents of Hura and Khashem Zanna are part of approximately 160,000 Bedouin Palestinians residing in the Negev, over half of whom live in unrecognized villages which the state refuses to provide with a planning structure and place under municipal jurisdiction, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.Entire communities have been issued demolition orders while others are denied basic services.The UN reports that 70 percent of Bedouin communities are refugees, driven from their land during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.


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Headlines From Palestine: July 16, 2015

Israeli Occupation Fighter Jets Hit Target In Gaza

Israeli fighter jets attacked a target in the Gaza Strip early Thursday morning after a missile fired from the strip hit an open area near the town of Ashkelon in the western Negev, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an. No injuries or damages were reported in Israel and have yet to be confirmed in the Gaza Strip.

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Palestinian Government Condemns Israeli Occupation Prison Policies

In light of the upcoming Muslim holiday, Eid al Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, the Palestinian Authority’s Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs condemned Israel’s policies and practices in regards to Palestinian prisoners.

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Ethnic Cleansing: Israeli Occupation Orders Palestinian Village To Be Demolished After Ramadan

Israeli authorities ordered the demolition of homes in a village south of Hebron to be carried out after Ramadan, Israeli watchdogs said on Wednesday.Rabbis for Human Rights and B’Tselem said in a statement that pressure from Israeli settlers had led to the decision to carry out demolition orders in the village of Khirbet Susiya after Ramadan, although a high court hearing regarding the case is currently scheduled for August 3.

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Daily Arrests Continue: Israeli Occupation Forces Detain Three Palestinians From West Bank Districts

Israeli forces early Thursday detained three Palestinians, including a minor, from multiple West Bank districts, said security sources.

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Ethnic Cleansing: Israeli Occupation Orders Palestinian Village To Be Demolished After Ramadan

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities ordered the demolition of homes in a village south of Hebron to be carried out after Ramadan, Israeli watchdogs said on Wednesday.Rabbis for Human Rights and B’Tselem said in a statement that pressure from Israeli settlers had led to the decision to carry out demolition orders in the village of Khirbet Susiya after Ramadan, although a high court hearing regarding the case is currently scheduled for August 3.The Israeli Civil Administration, the Israeli army, and the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) office announced the demolition order to the villagers in a meeting on Sunday.Khirbet Susiya has been under imminent threat of demolition since May, when the Israeli High Court approved the demolition of the villagers’ homes and tents and possible relocation of the villages around 300 Bedouin residents.The court case has been ongoing since 2012, when residents of Khirbet Susiya applied for the Israeli Civil Administration to approve an outline plan for northern part of the village.Susiya villagers reportedly built homes in 1986 on agricultural land they owned, after being evicted by Israel from their previous dwellings on land declared as an archaeological site.Situated in Area C, an area covering 60 percent of the West Bank which is under full Israeli control, villagers of Khirbet Susiya must apply for construction permits from the Israeli Civil Administration.In practice only a handful of Palestinian applications for construction or expansion on existing structures are approved, with only six percent of Palestinian building permit requests granted by Israel between 2000 and 2012.Unable to get “legal” permission, Palestinians are faced with either leaving or building illegally.Since 1988 Israeli forces have issued more than double the amount of demolition orders to Palestinians in Area C than they have to illegal Israeli settlements in the area.Israeli settlers living illegally in the area according to international law already control over 300 hectares of Khirbet Susiya’s land, B’Tselem reports. Rabbis for Human Rights alleges that the newest threat is a form of coercion that aims to expel residents of the area already before the court hearing.The head of the Susiya village council Jihad al-Nawajaa said the residents have been asked to be evacuated on the pretext that the village lacks sufficient infrastructure for living. Meanwhile, the Israeli government provides the necessary services to the nearby Israeli settlement of Susiya.Last year Israel demolished 590 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, displacing 1,177 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).The upcoming demolition of Khirbet Susiya comes while member of Israel’s right wing government are pushing a plan to forcibly relocate tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouins.Approved without any consultation with the Bedouin community, the plan would evict nearly 40,000 Bedouins from their villages and force them to live in concentrated areas that critics called “reservations.”Israel currently refuses to recognize 35 Bedouin villages in the Negev, which collectively house nearly 90,000 people.