Monday, June 26, 2017

1967 war: How Israel occupied the whole of Palestine


Dear friends,
June 2017 marks 50 years of Israeli military occupation, in the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.  Between 5 - 11 June, Israel launched an attack on Egypt and invaded the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai and East Jerusalem seizing control of Palestinian territories administered by Egypt and Jordan.

Over the next week or so, I will post up a series of articles and facts sheets about the events of 1967 and the what 50 years of belligerent, illegal military occupation for the Palestinian has meant and continues to mean today.

In addition to 2017 marking 50 years of Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, it also marks 68 years since the Nakba in 1948 and 100 years since Great Britain issued the Balfour Declaration.  I will also post over the next 4 - 6 weeks a range of material on Balfour as well.

Please find below a very comprehensive article by Al Jazeera on the lead up to the 1967 war, how it unfold, its immediate impact and what it means still for Palestinians today.

In solidarity, Kim

****

1967 war: How Israel occupied the whole of Palestine


Palestinians are marking 50 years since the 1967 occupation of their remaining lands this week.

By

6 June, 2017, Al Jazeera English.

Zena al-Tahhan is an online journalist and producer for Al Jazeera English. 


Fifty years ago this week, the state of Israel shocked the world when it seized the remaining Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights, and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, in a matter of six days.

In a war with Egypt, Jordan and Syria, known as the 1967 War, or the June War, Israel delivered what came to be known as the "Naksa", meaning setback or defeat, to the armies of the neighbouring Arab countries, and to the Palestinians who lost all what remained of their homeland.


The Naksa was a continuation of a prior central event that paved the way for the 1967 war. Nineteen years earlier, in 1948, the state of Israel came into being in a violent process that entailed the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

  In the 1967 War, Israel took control of the shaded areas of the Egyptian Sinai, Syrian Golan Heights, and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Zionist forces, in their mission to create a "Jewish state", expelled some 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland and destroyed their villages in the process. Shortly after Israel declared statehood, units of the neighbouring Arab country armies came in to fight for the Palestinian nation.

The 1948 War ended with Israeli forces controlling approximately 78 percent of historic Palestine. The remaining 22 percent fell into the hands of Egypt and Jordan.

In 1967, Israel absorbed the whole of historic Palestine, as well as additional territory from Egypt and Syria. By the end of the war, Israel had expelled another 430,000 Palestinians from their homes and gained territory that was three and a half times its size. 



Why did the war break out?

The narrative of the war is highly polarised, as is common for many events in the Arab-Israeli conflict. There exists, however, a series of events that undeniably led to the outbreak of the war.

Firstly, there were frequent clashes on the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Jordanian armistice lines after the 1948 war. Thousands of Palestinian refugees tried to cross the border searching for relatives, attempting to return to their homes and to recover their lost possessions.


Between 1949 to 1956, it is estimated that Israeli forces shot dead between 2,000 to 5,000 people who tried to cross. 

In 1953, Israel committed the most notorious reprisal massacre in the West Bank against the village of Qibya, where 45 houses were blown up and at least 69 Palestinians were killed.


A few years later, the Suez Crisis took place in 1956. Israel, along with France and Britain, invaded Eygpt with the hope of toppling then President Gamal Abdel Nasser after he nationalised the Suez Canal Company. The company was a joint British-French enterprise which controlled and operated the strategic waterway. 


The three countries were forced to withdraw, and for a decade afterwards, a United Nations peacekeeping force was installed along the Egyptian-Israeli border.

The mid-1950s and 1960s saw the rise of the Fedayeen movement - Palestinian armed resistance groups who attempted to mount attacks against Israel. 


A year before the war, Israel raided the West Bank village of As Samu' in the largest military operation since the 1956 Suez Crisis, after the Palestinian Fatah group killed several Israeli soldiers. As a result, Israeli forces rounded up the town's villagers and blew up about dozens of homes. About 18 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in the attack.


Tension between Syria and Israel was also brewing over disagreements on the use of the Jordan River water and Israeli cultivation along the border, which played a major role in leading up to the war. 


On May 13, 1967, the Soviet Union falsely warned Egypt that Israel was assembling its troops to invade Syria. Under an Egyptian-Syrian defence treaty signed in 1955, the two countries were obliged to protect one another in the case of an attack on either.


Egypt then ordered the evacuation of UN troops out of Sinai and stationed its troops there. A few days later, Abdul Nasser blocked Israeli shipping in the Red Sea.

At the end of May, Egypt and Jordan signed a mutual defence pact that effectively placed the Jordanian army under Egypt's command. Iraq followed suit shortly after.

 While Israel said Nasser’s closure of the straits was an act of aggression, Abdul Nasser said “The Gulf [of Aqaba] constitutes Egyptian territorial waters” and that his decisions were legally justified

On the early morning of June 5, Israel launched a surprise attack against Egypt's air bases and destroyed the Egyptian air force while it was still on the ground, a move that unleashed the war.

The motives behind the war are a point of contention among various historians and analysts.


Some believed that Israel had "unfinished business" for failing to seize the whole of historic Palestine in the 1948 war. On the eve of the 1967 attack, Israeli minister Yigal Allon wrote: 

"In … a new war, we must avoid the historic mistake of the War of Independence [1948] … and must not cease fighting until we achieve total victory, the territorial fulfillment of the Land of Israel". 

How did the war unfold?

The Israeli attack on Egypt's airbases in the Sinai and the Suez reportedly disabled at least 90 percent of the Egyptian air force and dictated the course of the war. Israeli ground forces proceeded to invade Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula on the same day.

 Egyptian warplanes lie destroyed on the tarmac after an Israeli Air Force strike on June 5, 1967, against Egyptian airfields at the start of the June War.

 Israel also attacked the Syrian airfields on the evening of June 5. The next day, fighting ensued between Jordan and Israel for control of Jordanian-held East Jerusalem.

On the dawn of June 7, military commander Moshe Dayan ordered Israeli troops to take the Old City, which lies in East Jerusalem. Amid UN calls for a ceasefire on the same day, Israeli diplomats in New York and Washington, DC reportedly attempted to garner US support for delaying a ceasefire in order to grant Israel more time to "finish the job". 

 
By mid-day of June 7, Israeli forces had seized the Old City from the Jordanian army. 



Israeli leaders David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Rabin lead a group of soldiers past the Dome of the Rock in East Jerusalem's Old City after the occupation of June 1967

 The major West Bank cities of Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron and Jericho, fell to the Israeli army a day later. Israel also shelled the Abdullah and Hussein bridges over the Jordan River that linked the West Bank to Jordan.

After taking the Old City, Israeli forces demolished the entire 770-year-old Moroccan Quarter neighbourhood, to widen access to the Western Wall, as it is known to Jews, known to Muslims as the al-Buraq Wall. The site holds religious significance to both Jews and Muslims.


Approximately 100 Palestinian families living in the quarter were ordered to evacuate their homes and the neighbourhood was bombed and completely demolished. The space was used by Israel to build the "Western Wall Plaza", an area that granted Jews direct access to the Wall. 


Throughout the war and under the orders of Yitzhak Rabin - who later became Israel's prime minister - Israeli forces ethnically cleansed and destroyed several Palestinian villages, expelling some 10,000 Palestinians. Among the most infamous wiped out villages were Imwas, Beit Nuba and Yalu.


In the Palestinian West Bank cities of Qalqilya and Tulkarem, the Israeli army systematically destroyed Palestinian homes. About 12,000 Palestinians were forced out of Qalqilya alone, as a means of "punishment", Dayan reportedly wrote in his memoirs.


 The rubble of the Moroccan Quarter after it was razed to the ground and the Palestinian families expelled to make way for Jews to pray at the Wall

Israel's offensive on the Syrian Golan Heights started on June 9, and by the next day, the Golan had been captured, putting Israel at a shocking distance from the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Egypt and Israel signed a ceasefire on June 9, while Syria and Israel signed on June 11, effectively ending the war with a UN-brokered truce.


Approximately 430,000 Palestinians were uprooted from their homes, with the overwhelming majority seeking refuge in Jordan. Many crossed into Jordan through the river, and did so on foot with very few belongings.


About half of the refugees had already been previously expelled from villages in historic Palestine that became part of Israel in 1948. The events of the 1967 war had them suffer displacement for a second time in 20 years.


 Palestinian refugees carry their belongings as they prepare to cross the wrecked Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River from the Israeli-occupied West Bank on June 22, 1967

What impact did the war have on Palestinians, Israelis and the Arab world?

The war was a turning point for the entire region. For the Palestinians and rest of the Arab world, it dealt a blow to their psyche and to their trust in the Arab governments.

In six days, Israel brought more than one million Palestinians under its direct control in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The 1967 war turned Israel into the country with the largest Palestinian population.


The shock of loss and defeat precipitated a revolutionary atmosphere among Palestinians, which spurred the emergence of armed resistance movements, vowing to take back Palestine with force throughout the 1970s and 1980s.


 Israeli soldiers stand over captured Egyptians and Palestinians at the start of the war on June 5, 1967

For the Israelis, their government's seizure of territory in the war led to a sense of euphoria. Thousands of Jews, even secularists, flocked to the Wall and wept as they prayed for what they believed was a miracle from God.

The belief that the outcome of 1967 was a miracle reinforced the idea to religious and messianic Zionists who believed, based on religious convictions, that they had a right to the entirety of the Holy Land.


The war unleashed the settler movement; a young generation of messianic Zionists decided to establish houses in the West Bank and Gaza, territory that is occupied and is not part of the state of Israel.

More importantly, the war opened up the question of the Zionist movement's colonial nature.


Instead of exchanging land for peace, as per the UN Resolution 242 that called on Israel to give up the territories in exchange for peace with its neighbours at the end of the 1967 war, Israel began encouraging its citizens to move into the territories it occupied and supporting them as they did so. 


Palestinian refugees flee from the Israeli-occupied West Bank on June 15, 1967

The Jewish state had been created in 1948 and its sovereignty recognised by most of the world's countries. But as soon as the guns fell silent in 1967, Israel, in direct contravention of international law, began building illegal settlements for its citizens on land it does not own.
 
Just one year after the 1967 war, there were six Israeli settlements built in the Syrian Golan Heights. By 1973, Israel had established 17 settlements in the West Bank and seven in the Gaza Strip. By 1977, some 11,000 Israelis had been living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula.


"The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza reminded the world of the colonial aspects of Israel," Munir Nuseibah, a professor at the Faculty of Law at Al-Quds University, told Al Jazeera. 

Palestine: Fifty years of military occupation, land theft, and settler colonialism

Despite the war being between Arab countries and Israel, those who have lost the most are the Palestinians, who are marking 50 years of Israeli military occupation this June. The occupation is the longest in modern history.

Between June 25-27, Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem and various parts of the West Bank, declaring them part of the state of Israel, in a move never recognised by the international community.


The rest of the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, housing some 5.1 million Palestinians, remain under Israeli military control under the pretext of security. Their lives have been dictated by hundreds of military checkpoints, a colour-coded permit system, and a Separation Wall that has divided families.


The devastating effect of the military occupation of the Palestinian territories cannot be overstated. 


Palestinians wait to cross into Jerusalem next to Israel's controversial Separation Wall at an Israeli military checkpoint in the West Bank town of Bethlehem

Human Rights Watch, a US-based NGO, grouped at least five categories of "major violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law" that characterise the occupation, in a report released on Sunday. The violations are unlawful killings, abusive detention, blockade of the Gaza Strip and restrictions on Palestinian movement, the development of settlements, and discriminatory policies that disadvantage Palestinians.

"Whether it's a child imprisoned by a military court or shot unjustifiably, or a house demolished for lack of an elusive permit, or checkpoints where only settlers are allowed to pass, few Palestinians have escaped serious rights abuses during this 50-year occupation," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in the report.


"Israel today maintains an entrenched system of institutionalised discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied territory - repression that extends far beyond any security rationale."

All the while, Israel, since 1967, has proceeded with illegally building homes and transferring its Jewish citizens into the West Bank and East Jerusalem, on stolen Palestinian land. Today, at least 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements scattered across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.


 Palestinians are subject to random and often humiliating body searches by Israeli soldiers on the streets of occupied East Jerusalem

Settlements, which are accompanied by roads and infrastructure built especially for the settlers, control at least 40 percent of the West Bank's surface area. As such, Israel has created an apartheid reality in the Palestinian territories whereby Israelis and Palestinians live under a system that privileges Jews over non-Jews.

"By establishing two separate systems for Israelis and Palestinians, Israeli authorities also violate the international law prohibition on discrimination," a report by the London-based European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank, released on Sunday, said.


"In sum, Israel's prolonged occupation creates a situation of serious human rights violations and unbearable living conditions, in which communities and individuals see no other option but to relocate."

Nur Arafeh, an analyst with Al-Shabaka, a Palestinian think-tank told Al Jazeera she believes the likelihood of Israel ending its occupation is low. 

"I don’t see any likelihood of Israel withdrawing from the occupied territories and ending its settler-colonial enterprise as long as it enjoys a culture of impunity and is never held to account by the international community for its violation of international law and human rights; and as long as the cost of its occupation is lower than the price of ending".


“Will there be an upcoming attack on Gaza?” Is Not the Question We Should Be Asking, After 11 Years of Siege.

Dear friends,
please find below an article by my good friend, Noura Mansour on the current situation in Gaza.

in solidarity,

Kim
***

“Will there be an upcoming attack on Gaza?” Is Not the Question We Should Be Asking, After 11 Years of Siege

by Noura Mansour

21 June 2017, Medium 


Every couple of years, since Hamas was elected in 2006, the International Community grants Israel a window of opportunity to carry out a major attack on Gaza. All the leaders of the “free world” then stand together in supporting Israel’s right to “defend itself” from besieged unarmed Gazan civilians. Some countries provide political back up, others provide arms, while others offer their silence allowing Israel to carry out its violations of International law and Human Rights unimpeded.

Is it that time again?

It seems like the escalation against Gaza has already begun. On Monday, June 12th, the Israeli government decided to cut down electricity supplies, leaving 2 million people with only 4 daily hours. Few days later, in June 20th, Israel further tightens the cut and reduces the electricity supplies from 4 to 2 hours daily. The reason for why this is occurring at this time is threefold:

Internationally, the rise of right wing governments, the election of Trump in the US, and the spread of Xenophobic and Islamophobic discourse, which find their reflection in real policies in the US, Europe and different parts of the world, provide a fertile ground for any operation that targets Muslims people, countries or organisation. Israel isn’t even required to provide plausible reason (not that it was ever required to do so in the past) especially in times when being a Muslim is enough by itself to make an individual or an organisation a terror suspect and legitimate target.

Regionally, the recent diplomatic crisis in the Arab gulf, between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and UAE on one hand, and Qatar on the other, has been an enabling factor in increasing the likelihood of the occurrence of such and even further escalation. The Saudis and their allies have been blunt about Qatar’s support of Gaza as one of the primary reasons that led them to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. This alignment between the Saudis and allies, with the US and Israel provides an Arab and Muslim cover for and regional legitimacy for whatever action the Zionist state decides to take against the besieged 2 million Palestinians in Gaza.

In Israel, Netanyhu is grappling with three different corruption scandals, which he is currently being investigated over, and may very well be indicted for. According Israeli media (Ma’ariv, Ynet, The Marker and Walla websites), the police is expected to recommend Netanyahu’s indictment for unlawfully receiving gifts worth a few hundred thousand dollars and in return providing certain services. Netanyahu has already declared that, even if he is indicted, he will not step down from office as he is not required to do, according to the Israeli law.

Netanyahu has also stated that he is considering to call for early elections, in an obvious attempt to distract the public from the current conundrum he is in. Early elections will allow Netanyahu to portray himself as the only strong leader fit to fight “terror”, and what a better way to prove it to his electorates than to escalate, further abuse and possibly attack a besieged community that has been living on the verge of a humanitarian crisis for the last 11 years under Israeli blockade?

Cutting off electricity is a clear step in escalating the humanitarian crisis and is designed to provoke a Palestinian response, as we have learned from previous Gaza attacks. Such tactics have been repeatedly used by Netanyahu and other Israeli governments to justify their attack on Gaza.

By presenting the electricity cut as a “Palestinian domestic issue” and stating that it was requested by the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu is clearly trying to shift the responsibility for the escalation from Israel and place it on the Palestinians. It is hard to believe that the Zionist state takes orders from the Palestinian Authority, but even if this is the case, the Palestinian domestic context is entirely controlled and manipulated by Israel. It is no secret that Israeli policies have instigated, fueled and created structures to maintain the Palestinian political rift and prevent Palestinian unity between Gaza and the West Bank. That said, over a week into the electricity cut, there has been no actions or at least statement from the PA, condemning or opposing this move as collective punishment. Once again, the PA fails to perform as an elected authority, and proves to be incompetent in representing and protecting the needs of its own people.

What can be done to try and prevent the next mass murder of Palestinians in Gaza?

We shouldn’t wait until the bombs start to fall, or the body count exceeds 2,200 on the next attack to start mobilizing for Gaza again. We, as individuals and civil society organisation, inside and outside of Palestine, can play a vital role by surfacing what has been happening and highlighting the real issue, which is that Gazans have been living under inhumane conditions due to Israeli policies for the last 11 years. Since the beginning of the siege, various human rights organisations and solidarity movements across the world have been calling for the immediate end to the blockade, however it seems like there is a pressing need for renewing campaigns that focus on the man-made humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and intensifying attempts and actions aimed at breaking the siege through advocacy, organizing events, freedom flotillas, and applying more pressure, through the BDS campaigns, targeting specific parties that have been playing a role in sustaining the blockade.

We need to demand and actively push for no less than an immediate end of the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade on Gaza. Once the Israeli air-force starts to hover, and the bombs start to rain over Gaza skies again, it will be too little and too late.

Friday, May 19, 2017

CATCHUP POST: Gideon Levy on Israeli occupation, apartheid and denialism

Dear friends,

veteran Israeli journalist, Gideon Levey pulls now punches when he responds to Israeli settlers, who publicly cancelled their subscription to Haaretz in protest of both Levy and Amira Hass truth telling about Israel's illegal occupation and apartheid regime. 

Here is Levy's "heartfelt" apology from mid April, where he responds to those who want to pretend that they and the Israeli state/military are not the problem.

In solidarity, Kim

****

 
A Heartfelt Apology to Haaretz Readers

To all offended readers, I apologize for the one-sidedness. How could I not maintain a balance between the murderer and the murdered; the thief and his victim; and the occupier and the occupied?

Gideon Levy Apr 21, 2017 Haaretz

    Photo: Gideon Levy

Dear Orna and Moshe Gan-Zvi,
I was saddened to read in Tuesday’s Hebrew edition of Haaretz that you’ve decided to cancel your subscription. I don’t know you, but I will miss you as readers. As someone who is partly responsible for your decision, as your article indicated, allow me to apologize. To apologize for writing the truth all these years. I should have taken into account that this truth wasn’t palatable to you, and acted accordingly.

It was not pleasant for you to read the theory put forward by me and my fellow Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass about the occupation. You, who are active in Rotary Israel, who come from the business world, who are so proud of your children and the fact that they live in the West Bank. Your son was educated at the Eli premilitary academy, and your granddaughters proudly carry the last name Sheetrit. You, who are so pleased with yourselves and your values, with your children and your morals, don’t think you should be forced to read unpleasant truths. You simply don’t deserve it.

Indeed, how could I have spent all these years publishing articles that even you, generously, admitted were touching, without ever, to my shame, checking how these Palestinian families ended up in their serious predicaments? Really, how did that happen? Of course it was their own fault, but I keep blaming the Israel Defense Forces – how could I? And how could Amira Hass be so one-sided and lacking in perspective that would explain how a people could prefer the elimination of another people over a democratic society? Really, how could you, Amira?

I assume, Moshe, that if they were to lock you in a cage for years, you would continue your Rotary membership and refuse to back a struggle against your incarceration. I assume, Orna, that if foreign soldiers were to burst into your home in the middle of the night and arrest your Moshe before your eyes, kick him, force him to his knees, blindfold him, handcuff him, and beat him in front of your children who study in Eli – and then snatch him from your home for months without trial – you would be looking for some “creative leadership” for your people.
I assume that you, who come from the business world, would lovingly accept those who confiscate your property and ban you from your own land. I’m sure it would never occur to you to struggle against those who have tortured you with such evil for so many years.   

What can we do? The Palestinians are different from you, dear Orna and Moshe. They were not born in such lofty heights as you. They are human animals, bloodthirsty, born to kill. Not all of them are as ethical as you and your children from the Eli academy. Yes, there are people who fight for their freedom. There are people who are forced to do so violently. In fact, there are almost no nations who haven’t acted this way, including the chosen people you’re proud to belong to. Not only do you belong; you are the pillar of fire that leads the camp, you’re the best, the moral elite – you, the religious Zionists.

I apologize for the one-sidedness. How could I not maintain a balance between the murderer and the murdered; the thief and his victim; the occupier and the occupied? Forgive me for daring to turn off your joy and pride in the land flowing with milk and Mobileye, and cherry tomatoes, too. There are so many wonderful things in this country, and Haaretz – with its “moral deterioration,” as you call it – is ruining the party. How did I not see that you don’t like to read the truth, and didn’t take this into account when I’d return from the occupied territories every week to write about what I’d seen with my own eyes?

But now it’s too late. The call to boycott chocolate spread was too much even for you, so you’ve decided to boycott Haaretz. From now on, the only paper on your coffee table will be the weekly, right-wing Makor Rishon. They won’t write about how IDF soldiers sprayed five Palestinian car passengers with bullets three weeks ago, and I’m sure your Shabbats will be a lot more pleasant from now on.

CATCHUP POST: Secret Documents Reveals Israel Expelled Gazans Right After Six-Day War


Dear friends,
here is the first of my catchup posts - an article published by Haaretz in mid-March about Gaza and the 1967 War.

In solidarity, Kim

****

Secret Documents Reveals Israel Expelled Gazans Right After Six-Day War

Israeli army was engaged in collective punishment, kicking out dozens of refugee camp residents and demolishing homes over one landmine whose tracks led back to the camp, Foreign Ministry memorandum shows.

 
Yotam Berger Haaretz Mar 15, 2017
Israel line up prisoners in the Gaza Strip for questioning and identification on June 6, 1967

Israel expelled Palestinians from the Gaza Strip as collective punishment in retaliation for an attempted attack on Israeli troops, a secret Foreign Ministry document dated June 15, 1967 reveals.

The document describes a visit by Foreign Ministry officials to the office of the military governor in Gaza, and discusses a decision to expel dozens of Palestinians from Gaza to Sinai after a land mine meant to harm Israeli security forces was planted. The Foreign Ministry’s Avner Arazi, who served in the ministry’s Asian department at the time, wrote the classified document.

Dr. Guy Laron, a senior lecturer in the Hebrew University’s international relations department, told Haaretz: “I didn’t hear about this incident, but there were acts of expulsion and massacres at the end of the war. They were not part of the official history, but they happened.”

He said he had not read of this specific incident, but cited an example of the Shaked commando unit, which happened at the end of the war. “It was under the command of Benjamin Ben-Eliezer on the 10th or 11th (of June),” he said. “There is also the story of Bedouin of Rafah, which happened later, in January 1972. Thousands of Bedouin were expelled, an estimated 6,000-20,000.”


Members of Akevot, the Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research, discovered the document. “What is exceptional in this story is that Foreign Ministry officials immediately write a memorandum of understanding,” Akevot executive director Lior Yavne told Haaretz. “It was not their mission. They went to sign an agreement with UNRWA. It seems that they were flustered by what they saw.”
Palestinian Refugees in the Gaza Strip - May 1967

The document describes Arazi’s visit to Gaza on June 14, days after the Six-Day War ended, in which he met with the military governor in Gaza. The officials were briefed on events in the days following the capture of Gaza. “On the 12th or 13th, a land mine exploded in the Gaza vicinity,” the document states. “The investigation found that the land mine had been laid shortly before it exploded. The tracks led to a number of homes in the Al-Tarabshe (sic) refugee camp.”

According to the document, the Israelis demanded that residents of the homes point out the people who conducted the attack. “A short time later, 110 people identifying themselves as soldiers in the Palestinian liberation army appeared, and took collective blame,” the document states.

Arazi describes the repercussions of this stand. “They did not heed pleas to identify who among them committed the act,” he recalled. “They gave them three hours to reveal the perpetrators otherwise they would all be punished – it was decided to transfer anyone who did not reply by the end of the ultimatum to Sinai and to leave them alone! It seems the punishment was carried out in the meantime. Likewise, the army blew up eight homes to where the tracks led.”

The document also describes other incidents of the army attempting to pressure the Palestinian population to turn in weapons and soldiers to the security forces.

“The government demanded of refugee camp residents in the Strip that they hand over all weapons in their possession,” the document states. “They did not respond to this appeal. Therefore, the government asked the local UNRWA representative to designate a warehouse in which weapons holders could put their weapons inside for the night without investigation or the need to be identified. This method was more effective.” It adds: “Assuming that some Egyptian soldiers were hiding in refugee camp homes, camp residents were called upon to hand over such soldiers. There has been no response.”
An Israeli armoured unit entering Gaza in 1967.

Laron says that there are eyewitness reports of mass expulsions from the West Bank immediately at the end of the war. “It did happen at the end of the war in the West Bank,” he said. “There was probably some organized plan, about which no documents have been released. However, there are accounts of soldiers arriving in trucks and encouraging residents to leave, and transporting them to expel them,” he added.

“Uri Avnery, in memoirs he has now published, claims that he met soldiers from the unit who said that this was their job – carrying out an organized plan meant to lead to the expulsion of West Bank residents,” Laron continued. “The commanding general, Uzi Narkiss, just before the war said that if they let us, we can kick out the Arabs from the West Bank within 48 hours. Thousands were exiled without a doubt.”

Akevot’s Livne said the testimony in the document by the Gaza governor in 1967 shows that home demolitions and expulsion served as a punishment tool in the territories by the Israel Defense Forces going back to the first days of the occupation. Referring to the officer who spoke with ministry officials, Yavne added, “State jurists tend to deny that home demolitions are part of a punishment policy, but the testimony of Gen. Gaon illustrates the real nature of the act of demolition, which always harms those who are not involved in warfare.”

Upcoming Live From Occupied Palestine posts!

Dear friends,

my apologies for the lack of posts over the last two months. I have been snowed under with work, study and politics.   I actually had a number of posts in draft to post but one reason or another had delayed posting them and now suddenly its two months since I last posted! Where did the time go??  

Over the next week or so, I will posted the backed-up drafts and hope to also get back into the swing of posting on more regular basis once again about what is happening in Palestine, as well as activism for Palestine in Australia and internationally.

Thank you once again for your support!

In solidarity, Kim






Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Asaf Harel to Israelis: Wake Up and Smell The Apartheid.

Dear friends,
apologies for posting this late. I have been meaning to post this almost two weeks but have been swamped with other work and study.  Hopefully by now many of you will have seen Israel writer, director and comedian Asaf Harel's scathing indictment of Israeli society. In a monologue, Harel on Israeli television implored Israelis  to wake up and smell the apartheid.  In the monologue, Harel pulls no punches saying: "Apartheid has been here for ages ... it's just that we are on its good side, so it doesn't really bother us". 

He went on to point out:  "Israel's most impressive innovation, more than any high-tech project or Rafael weapn, is our amazing ability to ignore what is happening mere kilometres away to our neighbours. A whole people. Transparent. Like it doesn't exist. Not in the news, not online, not on social media and definitely not in the hearts of the people. Nothing".

I have included the full clip of his monologue with translation below, along with an article from Haaretz on his stand.


in solidarity, Kim





***
In Last Monologue, Israeli Comedy Show Host Implores Israelis to Wake Up and Smell the Apartheid

Asaf Harel's scathing indictment of Israeli society has gone viral.
Haaretz Mar 01, 2017

An Israeli comedy show host's searing indictment of Israeli society has gone viral on social media, raking in over 5,000 shares in the two days since it was posted on the show's Facebook page on Monday.

In the video, Asaf Harel of "Good Night With Asaf Harel" castigates Israelis for ignoring the occupation and claims that Israel is an apartheid state.

"Good Night," which was aired by Channel 10, was one of Israel's most controversial shows on mainstream television in recent years. In one instance, the show was fined after Harel ridiculed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for exploiting his brother's death for political gain.

The episode was "Good Night's" last, as the show was not renewed for another season due to poor ratings, even though the show has gained a strong following on social media.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Haaretz: Jeff Halper detained for "alleged possession of BDS Material".


Dear friends,
news just in that well-known Israeli-American activist, Jeff Halper was detained by Israeli police for "possession of BDS Material".  Please find the full text of the Haaretz article below. As the article notes, even if Halper did have BDS material and even if he was distributing it, he would not have been in violation of any Israeli law, including Israel's anti-BDS laws. Clearly this is a case of harassment and intimidation.

in solidarity, Kim

***


Jeff Halper, cofounder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, was held after leading a tour of the E1 area across the road from the Israeli settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.
 
 Yotam Berger Haaretz, Mar 13, 2017

 
Police detained Israeli American left-wing activist Jeff Halper on Monday at the Ma'aleh Adumim settlement, for suspected incitement, saying they acted on a complaint he had "materials related to BDS" in his possession.

Halper, picked up after leading a tour of foreigners to the E1 site across the road from the settlement, was transported by police van to a nearby station then released without being placed under arrest.

Police officers photographed the posters and maps he was holding before freeing him. Halper denies handing out any material related to BDS during the tour, or even discussing the boycott movement.

Handing out such materials would not have been in violation of the law, even a 2011 anti-boycott law according to which a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott's targets without them having to prove that they sustained any damage.

The law also denies a person or a company that declares a boycott of Israel or the settlements eligibility to bid for government tenders. A separate law passed this month entitles Israel to deny entry to pro-BDS activists.

Halper, cofounder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, told Haaretz he was on a tour with foreign visitors in the territories last Wednesday. He took the group of 15 to a lookout over Area E1, near Ma'aleh Adumim.

"It's a good place to show them this context of where Ma'aleh Adumim is located relative to Jerusalem. It's a regular stop on our tours, this wasn't the first time I was taking a group to this spot," Halper said.

After the tour the tourists boarded a bus headed north and he headed to catch a bus to Jerusalem, but "as I ran toward a bus, I saw police in the area, and I saw them talking and contacting the group. I called the Palestinian driver (of the bus transporting the tourists) and he said he had heard a rumor that we were distributing BDS material."

"Suddenly the bus came to a stop in the Middle of Maaleh Adumim, after two stops, the police boarded the bus and told me, you are being detained, and they took me off the bus," Halper said.

Halper was questioned about the material he had.

"They didn't tell me why I was being detained; they said something about BDS, but no details. They put me into a van, which is unpleasant as it is. They drove me in the direction of the police station. Just when we got to the station they stopped asked me a few questions about what I had in my bag and whether I had any BDS material in the bag.

"We got out of the vehicle and they threw my maps on the van, the maps were of Jerusalem and the greater Jerusalem area. There was also something on which it was written BDS or for BDS, it's something that I use.

"I say that we have no solution to offer and I propose a binational democratic state, so I have the slogan that goes BDS for BDS. It's not a sticker or flyer, but just a map with those words on it.

"They found it and took it, wrote up a summons or something like that, and released me," Halper said.

Halper said the police refused to give him a copy of the ticket or explain what he was suspected of.

In response to a query from Haaretz, the Samaria regional police said:

"There is no investigation into this matter. There was information checked by a patrol once it became clear he committed no violations, he was freed."

Police spokespeople said the suspicion against him is "incitement" but he was released after questioning, and no further investigation was expected to take place.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Israel’s New Travel Ban: A Survival Kit for Activists Stopped at Israel's Airport


Dear friends,
you may have heard about that the Knesset has passed a new law automatically banning supporters of the Palestinian initiated and lead, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign from being able to enter Israel. As a number of commentators have noted, the new law in many way doesn't change things that much - Israel was already able to ban pro-Palestine activists for not only supporting BDS but also just for being pro-Palestine.   However, what this law does do is make it clear (once again), that Israel has no intention of ever ending its apartheid regime, occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.

Below are two articles from Haaretz: the second discusses the passage of the bill/law, while the first offers some advice to activists in regard to the "travel ban" and new law. While this advice is limited, it is still worth the read.

If any other relevant articles relating to the new law emerge, which might provide a solid analysis, clarity and information about the law, come to light I will post them as well.

In solidarity, Kim


Israel’s New Travel Ban: A Survival Kit for Activists Stopped at Israel's Airport

What happens if you've ever signed a petition condemning the Israeli occupation? This is your survival kit for entry into the country at Ben-Gurion airport.
Judy Maltz: Haaretz: Mar 09, 2017



Pro-Palestinian activists arrested after attempting a 'fly in' protest in Israel's Ben Gurion Airport Daniel Bar-On.

New legislation passed in the Knesset this week would deny entry into Israel to any foreign nationals who openly call for boycotting the country, even if the boycott is restricted to West Bank settlements.
 

Amendment No. 27 to the Entry Into Israel Law (No. 5712-1952) stipulates that the entry ban will apply to any non-citizen “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel that, given the content of the call and the circumstances in which it was issued, has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott – if the issuer was aware of this possibility.” It applies not only to boycotts of Israel, but also to boycotts of any Israeli institutions or “any area under its control” – a clear reference to the settlements.

Does this mean that anyone who ever signed a petition condemning the Israeli occupation could be taken into custody upon landing at Ben-Gurion International Airport? Does it mean that anyone who ever wrote a Facebook post announcing his or her decision to refrain from buying wine produced in the settlements could be sent back home on the next outbound flight? Will foreign nationals arriving at the airport be subject to more scrutiny? And who needs to be concerned?

We asked some legal experts to predict what changes can be expected on the ground, in wake of the new legislation, and to provide some tips for travelers who are worried they might be targeted now. Here’s what they had to say:



      Israel’s new travel ban: A survival kit for activists stopped at Israel's airport Haaretz

What will change in practice now that this new amendment has taken effect?

Under the Entry Into Israel Law, which was enacted in 1952, the Minister of Interior was already authorized to ban individuals from entering the country at his discretion, even if they have already obtained visas. As Oded Feller, an expert on immigration issues at the Association of Civil Rights in Israel notes: “Even before this amendment was added to the law, the Ministry of Interior felt free to detain at Israel’s borders those suspected of opposing Israeli policy, and in certain cases, even to deport them.” That has included not only supporters of an all-out boycott against Israel but even individuals simply critical of the Israeli government.

Such was the case last month when Jennifer Gorovitz, a senior executive at the New Israel Fund, was detained at the airport for 90 minutes and interrogated about her organization’s activities and its funding of various Israeli nonprofits. But as Feller points out, Gorovitz was not the first Jewish visitor to be pulled aside for questioning at the airport. “Other prominent examples that come to mind from previous years,” he said, “are Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein,” both well-known critics of Israel. For this reason, Yadin Elam, another Israeli attorney who specializes in human rights and immigration, believes the new amendment is more declarative than anything else. “Nothing really has changed in practice,” he says. “Before this, the Minister of Interior also had the power to bar entry of individuals who called for a boycott of Israel. The difference now is that the ban is automatic, and the Minister of Interior can, at his discretion, overturn it.” So is there reason to believe more people will be stopped at the airport now? “Only time will tell,” says Feller, “but probably.”

Is supporting a boycott enough grounds for being denied entry into Israel?


Pro-Palestinian protest in New York City. Anadolu Agency

The law does not ban those who support a boycott. Rather, it bans individuals, as well as representatives of organizations, that have issued a public call for a boycott that has “a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott.” Most legal experts say that it will ultimately be left to the courts to define what exactly that entails. Knesset Member Roy Folkman (Kulanu), one of the sponsors of the legislation, has said the ban would not apply to someone who has signed a petition in favor of a boycott. Feller is not convinced. “Once the amendment has been enacted, it will be up to the courts and the authorities to interpret it,” he says. “Folkman is not its interpreter and has no influence on how it will be implemented.”

How will Israeli Border Police know if someone has ever issued a call for a boycott?

Herein lies the big problem with this new amendment to the law, as Elam notes. “It is virtually impossible to implement,” he says. “Sure they have black lists, and they always have. But they also have gray lists. Are they going to start Googling every person on those lists who enters the country? Are they going to force every foreigner to pledge loyalty to the state of Israel when they enter the country or sign a form that they have never called for a boycott?”

Say you get stopped at the airport now, are Border Police allowed to search your bags?

Yes, and this has been true ever since the Entry Into Israel Law was enacted in 1952.  The law doesn’t specify, however, what types of searches are allowed.

Can they ask to search your digital devices?

This is trickier. As Feller notes, cellphones and tablets did not exist 55 years ago when the law was passed. “It could be argued that since the law does not give the authorities the explicit right to pry in this way, that they don’t possess such a right,” he says. “But as we know, when it comes to Israeli immigration authorities, many things are done without specific authorization.” And what should someone do if they are asked to unlock their phones or reveal their passwords to social media? Feller says they have the right to refuse but they should be mindful that they might then be detained or put on the next flight out of the country. Elam calls it a “Catch-22 situation.” “If you hand over your phone, there’s the risk they will see things you don’t want them to see, but if you don’t hand it over, there’s the risk that they’ll think you’re hiding something.”

What precautions should be taken to avoid being detained or sent back home?

For those concerned that things they may have said, signed or written in the past might be used against them now, Elam shares the following advice, which he gives all foreign nationals fearful that they might not be welcomed into Israel: Book a flight on a weekday, rather than a weekend, and on a regular airline, rather than a charter flight. “The reason I say a weekday is that you don’t want to be stuck in a detention facility over the weekend here,” he explains, “and the reason I say a regular airline is that usually they fly back and forth one the same day, while with charter flights, it could take a week until there’s a flight back, and they you’ll be stuck in detention all that time.”

What about those Jews who love Israel but hate the occupation – any special precautions they should take before booking their tickets to Israel now?

Elam says they might want to consider getting a letter from the Israeli consulate near their hometown or a local Jewish leader vouching that they are loyal members of the Jewish community. “Still,” he cautions, “there is really no way to guarantee that they won’t face any problems once they get here.


read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.775796




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Israel's Travel Ban: Knesset Bars Entry to Foreigners Who Call for Boycott of Israel or Settlements
New law doesn't include caveat urged by Justice Ministry: To exempt Palestinians who reside in Israel.

Jonathan Lis: Haaretz: Mar 07, 2017

       A BDS demonstration in southern France, June 2015. George Robert, AP

The Knesset gave its final approval Monday evening to a bill that forbids granting entry visas or residency rights to foreign nationals who call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts of either Israel or the settlements.

The interior minister would be able to make exceptions to this rule if he deems it warranted in a particular case.

The bill, which was enacted into law after it passed its second and third readings, was backed by 46 lawmakers and opposed by 28.

Zionist Union this time imposed coalition discipline against the bill, after it gave its MKs freedom to vote as they choose during its first reading. The Knesset Interior and Environment Committee approved the final wording of the boycott bill, whose goal is to fight the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

It says the entry ban will apply to any person “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel that, given the content of the call and the circumstances in which it was issued, has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott – if the issuer was aware of this possibility.”

This definition was copied from a 2011 law that permitted civil lawsuits against BDS activists.

The ban would apply not just to people who call for boycotts against Israel, but also to those who call for boycotts of any Israeli institution or any “area under its control” – i.e., the settlements.

The Justice Ministry urged the Interior Committee to make an exception for Palestinians with temporary residency in Israel, like those admitted under the family unification program, who spend several years as temporary residents before receiving permanent residency.

Exempting these Palestinians from the ban would make it easier for the law to withstand a court challenge, the ministry argued. But the committee rejected this idea.

One of the bill’s sponsors, MK Roy Folkman (Kulanu), said during the debate, “It’s possible to feel national pride and still believe in human rights. It’s possible to defend the name and honor of the State of Israel and there’s no shame in that. This law represents Kulanu as a nationalist socially oriented party that believes in a balance between national pride and human rights.”

Another sponsor, MK Betzalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi), said, “What does this law say, after all? A healthy person who loves those who love him and hates those who hate him doesn’t turn the other cheek.”

The leader of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, strongly criticized the legislation, telling the Knesset of his recent trip to the J Street Conference in the U.S.: "I was in the U.S. two weeks ago, I saw there thousands of Jews who support a boycott of the settlements. These are people who act not against the state but against the occupation.

"I'm against the occupation and for a boycott of the settlements that are a war crime and the theft of land from private individuals. The occupation will end up making Israel a leper everywhere."

MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) said, “Who today doesn’t oppose a boycott of the settlements? Look at the UN, at the EU, at what’s happening in the international community. Do you want to boycott all of them and refuse them entry to Israel? The whole world thinks the settlements are illegal. You are essentially promoting a move that will strengthen the boycott of Israel.”

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) added, “We’re talking about a law that is against freedom of expression, that constitutes political censorship and is meant to silence people. It’s ostensibly against the boycotters of Israel but it doesn’t make a distinction between Israel and the settlements and it thus serves the BDS movement.”

Jewish Voice for Peace Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson responded to the ban saying that "On the same day as the Trump administration signed the second version of an unconstitutional and discriminatory executive order barring visitors from specific Muslim countries, Israel just passed its own discriminatory travel ban barring supporters of nonviolent tactics to end Israel's violations of Palestinian rights.

"My grandparents are buried in Israel, my husband and kids are citizens, and I lived there for three years, but this bill would bar me from visiting because of my work in support of Palestinian rights. I'm very proud to support the BDS movement, and hope that the response to this ban will hasten the day when anyone can travel there freely."

Peace Now said the ban is "neither Jewish nor democratic" and "a clear violation of freedom of expression. Through this law the Bennetyahu government will not prevent boycott but rather, deteriorate Israel's international standing and lead Israel towards international isolation."

Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said "the law violates basic democratic rules in that it sets a political position as a reason to prevent foreigners from entering Israel and occupied territory. Those who wish to visit certainly do not have to toe the current Israeli government's position on the issue of occupation.

"The law's damage is expected to be particularly great for tens of thousands of Palestinian families where a member is either a temporary resident or holds only a temporary entrance permit and will now be exposed to having these rights lifted for the expression of a political view." 

Adalah and ACRI had appealed to Knesset members ahead of the law's approval, writing that "the interior minister is not entitled to act like a commissar standing at the gate and deciding for the citizenry and residents of occupied territory who depend on Israeli checkpoints, which viewpoints are entitled to be heard.

"Freedom of speech is not only about the right to speak, but also the right to be exposed to opinions, even opinions that outrage or anger the majority in Israel.

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.775614