Saturday, 1 January 2011

Israel kidnapped 4,168 Palestinians in 2010 - 350 Palestinians arrested last month for working without permit including minors

Farwana: Israel kidnapped 4,168 Palestinians in 2010
[ 01/01/2011 - 08:35 AM ]

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Specialist in prisoners' affairs Abdulnasser Farwana said that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained 4,168 Palestinian citizens in 2010, at an average of 11 detainees every day.

In a report released on Friday, Farwana added that the past year witnessed a rise in the Israeli violations against prisoners, where the prison administrations escalated their arbitrary measures against them and issued decisions that worsened their incarceration conditions.

He also stressed that the list of patients imprisoned in Israeli jails broadened and the use of excessive force against prisoners became a phenomenon in all prisons.

The specialist noted that two detainees, Ra'ed Abu Hammad and Mohamed Abdin, died last year as a result of torture and medical neglect and both of them were from occupied Jerusalem.

He appealed to the international institutions to give up its silence on the issue of Palestinian prisoners and move to defend its laws that are flouted and violated on a daily basis by Israel.

In a related context, a senior leader of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails said that the prison administrations escalated their search raids on sections and rooms of detainees at the pretext of looking for cell phones, but in fact these break-ins are part of Shalit law which is implemented gradually.

The Israel government earlier last year approved Shalit law that is aimed at aggravating the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in its jails in an attempt to pressure the captors of soldier Gilad Shalit to make concessions in the prisoner swap talks

The leader added that these search raids are not primarily aimed at searching for cell phones as the prison administrations claim, and what proves that is the fact that they also take place in jails known for its strict security measures.

He affirmed that many prisoners suffered heavy material losses because when Israeli troops raid the cells they deliberately wreak havoc on everything they find on their way.

In a separate incident, the Palestinian prisoners in Hadarim jail demanded the prison administration to remove the cell phone jamming devices which are used inside, saying these devices may cause serious diseases like cancer among them.

They said that the prison administration used these jammers after intensive violent raids over two months on their rooms.


[ 01/01/2011 - 09:51 AM ]

WEST BANK, (PIC)-- Israeli police arrested last month 350 Palestinians from the West Bank, 22 of them minors, on charges of working in 1948-occupied Palestine without a permit, the General Union of Palestine's Laborers said Saturday.

The cities of Haifa, Yaffa, Tel Aviv, and Nazareth saw the heaviest concentration of arrests.

22 minors were picked up in the arrest campaign, as well as 20 Palestinian women. 25 of the detainees were taken for questioning over security charges.

10 of those workers were sentenced to three months in jail, while 15 others were forced to pay about 2.5 thousand dollars in fines.

Israeli authorities have reportedly withheld work permits from Palestinians who refuse to offer services for Israeli intelligence, a scandal that has forced many West Bank residents to seek livelihood without license.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Any respect for International law left in the US Congress?

Franklin Lamb
Beirut

Exclusive to Al-Manar




This week marks the second anniversary of among the most savage criminal slaughters of human life in long memory. The 522 hour indiscriminate carnage, “Cast Lead” that killed 1,417 Palestinians, mostly civilians, 352 of them children, injuring for life more than 5,300 , indicts Israel as well as those countries that continue to supply it weapons, diplomatic cover and to enforce Israel’s illegal siege on sealed Gaza.

The US administration, as revealed in a State Department cable posted by Wikileaks, has been working overtime with Israel to parry further condemnation of Israeli crimes documented in the Richard Goldstone and Richard Falk Reports, among others.

These investigations established massive violations of human rights and international law, war crimes, and possible crimes against humanity while refuting claims by Israel that it acted according to the limited international right of self-defense. Goldstone, Falk and others have demonstrated that it was both the victims of Cast Lead and the Mavi Marmara who alone possessed the right of self defense in light of Israel’s agressions, not Israel.
As Professor Falk instructs us, Israeli actions in both cases:

“Are certainly acts of aggression under the UN Charter, and an act of war by reference to customary international law. Whenever force is used in situations other than in situation where a proper claim of self-defense is made, the undertaking is unlawful, and if as here, it is an instance of flagrant non-defensive force, the attacker is engaged in criminal conduct and both the offending state and the perpetrators acting on behalf of the should be held responsible, and to the extent international crimes took place, held accountable.”.

Rather than hold Israel to the "single universal human rights standard that applies to every country”, as Hilary Clinton crowed on Human Rights Day during an appearance before the Brookings Institute, the Obama administration claims others have ‘rushed to judgment’ and it has refused to condemn Israel’s May 31, 2010 murder of an American citizen on the Mavi Marmara humanitarian aid boat, 19 year old Furkan Dogan.

Rushing to judgment and ignoring International law in Congress

Maybe it requires the moral clarity of 19 year old Layal, and her teen aged friends huddled in a damp, candle lighted, cold subterranean hovel in Shatila Palestinian Refugees camp this New Years in Beirut, to speak the naked truth. In their make shift ‘classroom’ the teenagers tutor camp kids on the three R’s after the youngsters double shift ‘short day’ and too early daily dismissal at Shatila’s overcrowded and undersupplied and understaffed, UNRWA Ramallah and Hemeh schools.
Wrapped in a woollen shawl for warmth, and discussing a planned commemoration of the second anniversary of the 22 day Gaza Massacre, Layal suddenly blurted out,

“you know what? The Star of David and Israel’s flag has replaced the Nazi Swastika as today’s symbol of ethnic cleansing, racism and oppression.” She explained to her colleagues, Israel will remain a pariah state as long as its laws and its policies continue to violate the basic human rights of Palestinians. Israel has no right to exist as an exclusively Jewish State, any more than Hitler’s Reich had a “right to exist for Aryans only. We Palestinians will return. Liberty and justice will be achieved. Jews and Arabs can again live together in peace.”

As never before. the international community, increasingly appalled and angered by Israeli crimes is pulling back from supporting or trying to justify Israel’s actions and are shifting attention to the rights of Palestinians to live in their own country, to return from their Nakba caused refugee “sanctuaries” in more than 60 countries and to recognize the State of Palestine. This as some in the international community prepare to escort Israel before the bar of international justice.

But not in the US Congress which is some ways has become a grotesque caricature of what James Madison and the founding fathers wanted and, perhaps naively, as it has turned out, believed they had created.

As the Israel lobby and the Jerusalem Post have been claiming recently, and even as Israel’s most ardent apologists struggle to justify its actions and Israel’s position becomes increasingly untenable, nearly five dozen senators and over 180 members of the House of Representatives have by now issued statements since Cast Lead and the attack on the humanitarian aid boat the Mavi Marmara. Almost all of them overwhelmingly supportive of Israel while ignoring well established international law.
  • In the Senate, former presidential candidate and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (DMA), who repeatedly claims he wants to reach out to Iran and other Middle East countries said that “Israel has every right in the world to make certain that weapons are not being smuggled into Gaza after the thousands of rockets that have been fired on it. It is not just Israel conducting this blockade; it is Israel and Egypt. So you begin that Israel has this right to protect itself and its claim to a right of self defense is rock solid.”
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) noted that “Israel has an obligation to protect its citizens and therefore has a clear right under international law to prevent weapons from getting in the hands of terrorists determined to target them. Israel indicated it was willing to put in place a process to ensure that legitimate humanitarian relief reached Gaza. Unfortunately this offer was rejected”
  • Israel has pledged to carry out a transparent and thorough investigation of this incident, and I look forward to its findings.”
  • Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said, “We should be very clear about who is responsible for the unfortunate loss of life in the attempt to break the blockade in Gaza. Hamas and its allies are the responsible parties for the recent violence and the continued difficulties for the people of Gaza. Israel exercised her legitimate right of self defense.” Lieberman added that he appreciates “the way in which the Obama administration has refused to join the international herd that has rushed to convict Israel before the facts were known and has apparently forgotten that Israel is a democratic nation and Hamas is a terrorist group.”
  • Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) added that “Israel is at war. Each and every day thousands of its innocent men, women and children face the threat of lethal rocket attack from the terrorists.” “ Israel is not a liability to the United States,” Brown said. “There is no greater US ally in the critical area of the Middle East and perhaps no better strategic partnership in the world.”
  • Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) stated, “ Israel – rightfully so – invoked its right to self-defense in Gaza and on the Mavi Marmara.”
  • Said Rep. Gary Ackerman (DNY): “I strongly condemn the action of those who assaulted the Israeli troops and made the use of violence by Israeli troops absolutely necessary and justified in self-defense”.
  • Republican whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) noted, “ I commend the administration for its steadfast support of Israel in resisting another Goldstone-style UN investigation. These types of kangaroo courts have one goal, and that is to strip democratic nations of their rights to defend their citizens from terrorism. The United States must not lend its authority to any UN action to discredit our democratic ally and set back prospects for peace in the region, and I hope the Obama administration remains committed to that principle.”
  • New Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner (R-OH) said, “Israel has every right to defend itself against terrorists which threaten its very survival.”
And the list goes on…and on……..

Of course our American problem is not just our Congress. The Israel lobby picked and packed Executive Branch is not much more supportive of American values and international norms. To the shame of the US State Department, its spokesman, Robert Wood sullied and humiliated America when the hapless fellow refused to answer even a simple media question whether the United States considered pasta i.e. macaroni, spaghetti, fettuccini noodles items denied to Palestinians under Israel's illegal blockade of Gaza--a "dual-use item." The American people are better than this and must demand better from our officials.

Currently, there is only a faint hint that Members of Congress, 83% of whom rely on Israeli lobby or arms industry political action committee money to keep their seats and sinecures, have the gumption to advocate a U.S. policy, consistent with American notions of substantial justice or which upholds Palestinian rights as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.



Dr. Franklin Lamb is Director of the Sabra Shatila Foundation. Contact him at: fplamb@sabrashatila.org.
He is working with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign in Lebanon on drafting legislation which, after 62 years, would, if adopted by Lebanon’s Cabinet and Parliament grant the right to work and to own a home to Lebanon’s Palestinian Refugees. One part of the PCRC legislative project is its online Petition which can be viewed and signed at: petitiononline.com/ssfpcrc/petition.html.
Lamb is reachable at fplamb@palestinecivilrightscampaign.org. Franklin Lamb’s book on the Sabra-Shatila Massacre, International Legal Responsibility for the Sabra-Shatila Massacre, now out of print, was published in 1983, following Janet’s death and was dedicated to Janet Lee Stevens. He was a witness before the Israeli Kahan Commission Inquiry, held at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in January 1983.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Qassem: Dahlan has secrets against PA officials and will not be condemned

Qassem: Dahlan has secrets against PA officials and will not be condemned

[ 01/01/2011 - 02:24 PM ]

NABLUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Abdelsattar Qassem, a professor of political science at the Najah university, ruled out that the inquiry committee formed by de facto president Mahmoud Abbas could declare Fatah leader Mohamed Dahlan guilty of corruption charges and attempts to overthrow Abbas.

Qassem explained that Dahlan has many serious and big secrets about every official from the Palestinian Authority and Fatah and there are fears he would wash their dirty laundry in public if he was seriously interrogated, stressing that the history proved that the criminal is afraid of questioning those who knows about his crime.

"It is likely that Dahlan has made something against those who accused him, but they will not interrogate him seriously because they know the price, they may pay through the interrogation, is much higher than the price they will pay if he is not questioned," the professor said.

He expressed his belief that the investigations will be nominal and confidential, and will not take a long time before the PA and Fatah use the higher national interests to justify closing the file against Dahlan.

In this regard, followers of Dahlan threatened to take action against Abbas and to use documents in their possession to turn the table upside down over the heads of senior PA officials if Dahlan was declared guilty of the accusations leveled against him.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Abbas’s militia gloats about kidnapping a Qassam commander


[ 01/01/2011 - 03:30 PM ]

DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Hamas warned de facto Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and his security apparatuses in the West Bank of handing Qassam leader Ayub Al-Qawasmi to the Israeli occupation authority (IOA).

The movement said in a statement on Saturday that it strongly condemns the detention of Qawasmi, describing his "abduction" as a "national crime".

It said that the detention of the Qassam Brigades leader, 46, who has succeeded in evading IOA arrest for the past 23 years, was a "free service to occupation".

Hamas demanded the immediate release of Qawasmi, holding Abbas personally and his security apparatuses responsible for his safety, warning them of delivering the Mujahid to the IOA under any pretext.

[ 31/12/2010 - 10:56 PM ]

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- Abbas’s militia kidnapped on Friday Ayyoub al-Qawasmi (46 years), a commander of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in al-Khalil district after 23 years of being on the wanted list for the IOF and Abbas’s militia.

Fatah media sources reported the kidnapping of Qawasmi gloating about the ability of its militia to kidnap the commander after he managed to evade being captured by the IOF and the militia for the past 23 years.

Dr. Salah al-Bardaweel, a Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, condemned the kidnapping and said this act is a free service provided by the Ramallah security forces to the Israeli occupation.

He added that what makes matters worse is the fact that this kidnapping coincides with the anniversary of the war on Gaza and Ashkenazi’s desecration of Yusuf’s tomb.

He held the Ramallah PA responsible for the life of Qawasmi.

Meanwhile, the Qassam Brigades said in a press statement on Friday that the kidnapping of Qawasmi is yet another proof that Fatah’s militia is run by the occupation and held the PA and its militia fully responsible for the life and safety of Qawasmi.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Israel forces Palestinians to demolish their own homes

 Report, The Electronic Intifada, 31 December 2010


Palestinian women from Lyd sit on top of the rubble of their home after it was destroyed by Israel, December 2010. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

More than 100 Palestinian protesters and their supporters blocked a main street in the city of Lyd on 28 December, demonstrating against the recent demolition of Palestinian homes and what residents say is a rise in racism and police brutality.

On 13 December, officials with the Israel Lands Administration (ILA), the government agency that manages and leases state land, entered the Palestinian section of the segregated city flanked by bulldozers and hundreds of municipal, riot squad and border police forces. The bulldozers then demolished seven homes all belonging to the Abu Eid family in Lyd.

The demolition, which took several hours, subsequently displaced 67 members of the entire family, including dozens of children, during one of the worst rainstorms of the season. Dozens of other Palestinian homes have been demolished over the years in Lyd, which is a few miles east of Tel Aviv inside the state of Israel.

Lyd is a so-called "mixed city," as is the neighboring city of Ramle, with significant Palestinian minority communities living alongside the Jewish majority. Palestinian residents of these communities have been chronically discriminated against and brutalized by police.

Oren Ziv, a photojournalist with Israeli-based photography collective ActiveStills, witnessed the demolitions of the Abu Eid homes and told The Electronic Intifada that the family knew that the ILA had issued demolition orders against their homes, but they were given no notice of exactly when the destruction would take place.

"During the destruction, I climbed onto the roof of a neighboring house and I saw several bulldozers demolishing the fourth house," Ziv said. "Many neighbors and a few activists were watching it all happen. I've been documenting [home demolitions] for seven years and this was one of the biggest demolitions I've ever seen."

Ziv added that when the bulldozers finished demolishing the seventh house, children were starting to come back from school only to find their homes reduced to rubble.

"People were trying to salvage their papers and belongings from underneath the destroyed homes," he said. "It was hard to find a solution for the family, especially during the terrible weather. They built a protest tent and a tent camp."

Ma'an News Agency reported that the homes were among more than 100 in the city "under immediate demolition orders" following a decision in the Israeli parliament to destroy an estimated 4,000 "illegal" housing structures "in a plan said to cost millions of shekels" ("Family takes stock after mass Lod demolition," 13 December 2010).

The ILA claims that the homes and structures that were demolished, or are facing demolition, were built in an "agricultural" zone, and have therefore denied retroactive building permits to residents of Lyd.

Members of the Abu Eid family told Ma'an that they had "paid rent for decades to a state-owned company to use the land, but [were] only allowed to build up to 100 square meter homes since it was zoned as agricultural ... As the family grew, it requested but was declined approval to expand their houses." After they lost a series of appeals, the family was told by the local court to expect demolitions.

Ziv said that after the destruction, the Abu Eid family placed a banner alongside the tents declaring it the "Abu Eid refugee camp."

He added that the presence of the Israeli border police, usually designated to areas along checkpoints and during demonstrations in the occupied West Bank, was a stark indication of how the Israeli government views Palestinian communities -- whether inside Israel or in the West Bank and Gaza strip.

"In the last few years, Israel has been bringing in the border police to deal with Palestinian communities, or poor communities [in Israel]," he said. "I think it shows where the real borders are inside Israeli society -- they're not where you would expect. Israel brings them to guard the borders between Tel Aviv and Jaffa, and within communities in Lyd."

Ziv added that Israeli police returned to the area a week later, with the clear intention of destroying the Abu Eid family's tent camp, but residents and solidarity activists blocked the police forces and prevented the destruction.

Following the 28 December protest, residents and activists in Lyd vowed to stage similar demonstrations on a weekly basis.

Arafat Ismayil, a leader of the popular committee in Dhammash, a Palestinian village beside Lyd that is under constant threat of home demolitions, told EI that the recent activism has strengthened solidarity between his community, Lyd and Ramle.

"What happened in Lyd is the same as what will happen in Dhammash," Ismayil said. "We feel that the homes that were demolished in Lyd were our homes, and the Abu Eid family are our family too. If we are together in solidarity, hopefully the Israeli government won't demolish another home. We're hoping to inspire more activism within our communities."

Meanwhile, home demolitions continued in the Negev region, and in numerous places around the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Negev

On 29 December, Israeli forces bulldozed several homes belonging to one family in the "unrecognized" Bedouin village of al-Sadir, according to Ma'an News Agency ("Israel continues Negev home demolitions," 29 December 2010).

More than 80,000 indigenous Palestinian Bedouins live in dozens of so-called "unrecognized villages" in the Negev region, communities that the Israeli government refuses to acknowledge despite the fact that they have existed before the state's establishment in 1948. People living in such villages are denied social services, including running water and electricity, and face regular home demolitions.

Less than a week earlier, the Bedouin village of al-Araqib was destroyed for the eighth time since July 2010. Arab News reported that Israeli bulldozers returned to al-Araqib on the morning of 23 December, flanked by dozens of police officers who "acted violently" towards villagers who attempted to prevent the destruction of their homes ("Israeli Bedouin village razed for the 8th time," 24 December 2010).

Police declared the area a "closed military zone" and prevented access to journalists. Afterwards, residents and solidarity activists working with the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, a political representative body for Palestinian citizens of Israel, once again helped rebuild the homes and structures that were destroyed, Arab News reported.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF), an Israeli land institution, has been a driving force behind the destruction of al-Araqib and many other Bedouin communities in the Negev.

The JNF plans to build a forest on the village land, continuing a historic policy of cutting off indigenous populations from their land since Israel's establishment in 1948.

As The Electronic Intifada has reported, international human rights organizations have openly condemned the repeated destruction of al-Araqib and Israel's policies of violent dispossession of indigenous populations.

Occupied West Bank

Jerusalem

The Palestine News Network (PNN) reported that Israeli forces destroyed an agricultural storehouse, a gas station and other industrial structures in the village of Hazma, near Jerusalem, on 29 December ("Israel Demolishes Industrial Buildings North of Jerusalem, Settlers Uproot 30 Olive Trees," 29 December 2010). PNN added that at the same time, Israeli bulldozers razed sections of land in the Sheikh Anbar district near the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem.

In the at-Tur neighborhood, also on 29 December, Ma'an News Agency reported that several structures were demolished by Jerusalem municipality police as bulldozers uprooted dozens of olive trees ([Arabic only], 29 December 2010.)

Several days earlier, two Palestinian families were forced to demolish their own homes in Sur Bahir village. The families had received demolition orders from Jerusalem Municipality officials three days before, citing "illegal construction" ("Two Palestinian families demolish own homes under municipal orders in Sur Bahir," SILWANIC, 25 December 2010).

Maryam Iraqi, a member of one of the families, told the Wadi Hilweh Information Center (SILWANIC) that they were forced to destroy the homes themselves, or would face a huge bill if the municipality demolished it. "When they would come to demolish [our home]," Iraqi added, "we would not be able to take the furniture out. The municipality gave us a one-week period in which to destroy our home ourselves."

SILWANIC added, "The Israeli state does not provide alternative housing or financial compensation to Palestinian families whose homes are ordered to be demolished, going so far as to actually charge families for demolition costs."

According to Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem are faced with discriminatory housing and building policies, forcing residents to build homes without obtaining building permits -- thereby designating the homes as "illegal" and subject to demolition ("East Jerusalem: Policy of discrimination in planning, building and land expropriation").

In Ras al-Amoud, 13 Palestinians were left homeless after being forced to demolish their own home on 21 December, following a demolition order posted on their door by Israeli police. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) reported that the families were faced with the decision either to demolish their own home and pay a fine of 60,000 shekels (approximately $17,000 US) "or refuse, and watch as soldiers demolish their house and punish them with a fine of 120,000 shekels ($34,000)," ISM stated. "Soldiers showed up outside with a bulldozer. Finally, on 21 December, they tore down their own house" ("13 homeless after home demolition in Ras al Amoud," 24 December 2010).

After their home was razed to the ground, the family constructed a few tents with their possessions stacked to one side.

United Nations officials visited areas of occupied East Jerusalem last week, and condemned Israel's ongoing policies of home demolitions in the city, according to Agence-France Presse ("UN envoys criticize Israel home demolitions," 23 December 2010). Barbara Shenstone, a field worker with the UN Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), which oversees services for Palestinian refugees, admonished Israel's policies as "cruel and distressing."

"While children around the world are enjoying the holiday season in their homes, these children have suffered the trauma and indignity of watching their homes destroyed in the presence of their parents," Shenstone added.

The day before, Maxwell Gaylard, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, said that "The government of Israel must take immediate steps to cease demolitions and evictions in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem."

The United Nation's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) released a report documenting the destruction of 49 homes and structures over a one-week period in the West Bank's "Area C," which includes East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, encompassing nearly 60 percent of the West Bank ("Report: Protection of Civilians," December 8-14, 2010 [PDF]).

Under the Oslo accords signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip were carved up into areas A, B and C, the latter of which indicates full Israeli control. Under the Oslo regulations, Area C, which includes East Jerusalem, is administered and controlled by the Israeli government and its military. Approximately 40,000 Palestinians live in Area C.

In its report, UNOCHA said that between 8 and 14 December, 29 buildings, including homes, animal structures and an elementary school, were demolished in Khirbet Tana, near Nablus in the northern West Bank. The demolitions resulted in the displacement of 61 Palestinians, including 13 children. "This is the third time this community has suffered extensive demolitions since 2005," UNOCHA stated.

The report added that 14 water cisterns were destroyed in the Bedouin communities of Umm ad Daraj, Khashem ad Daraj, both near Hebron, and eight trees were uprooted as four vegetable stalls were destroyed in one area of the Jordan Valley.

In addition, UNRWA released a similar report on 23 December stating that there has been an increase in demolitions in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

In all of 2010, states the report, "396 Palestinian structures were demolished in East Jerusalem and other areas under full Israeli control in the West Bank. This compares to 275 in the previous year -- an increase of almost 45 percent. As a result this year, 561 people have been displaced, including 280 children, and the livelihoods of over 3,000 people have also been affected" ("The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, condemns Jerusalem home demolitions and assists affected families," 23 December 2010).

Days earlier, leading international human rights advocacy organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a 166-page report documenting the effects of Israeli policies of dispossession and discrimination, and called on Israel "in addition to abiding by its international legal obligation to withdraw the settlements, to end these violations of Palestinians' rights ("Israel/West Bank: Separate and Unequal," 19 December 2010)."

HRW stated in its press release on the report that it "looked at both Area C and East Jerusalem and found that the two-tier system in effect in both areas provides generous financial benefits and infrastructure support to promote life in Jewish settlements, while deliberately withholding basic services, punishing growth, and imposing harsh conditions on Palestinian communities."

"Such different treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity, and national origin that is not narrowly tailored to legitimate goals violates the fundamental prohibition against discrimination under human rights law," HRW reported.

Al-Baqaa

East of Hebron in the southern West Bank, four commercial structures were destroyed in the of al-Baqaa valley on 20 December, according to the Alternative Information Center (AIC) ("Israel Demolishes 2 East Jerusalem Homes, 4 Hebron District Commercial Centers," 21 December 2010). Al-Baqaa is near the illegal Israeli settlement colony of Kiryat Arba in Hebron.

In the same report, the AIC stated that Israeli forces destroyed a home in the Numan village, between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, on 21 December.

Settlements expand

As the US-brokered peace talks remain dead in the water, illegal Israeli settlement colonies continue to expand in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on 15 December that construction began in a new settlement near the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem ("E. Jerusalem apartment construction begins," 15 December 2010). Twenty four housing units are being built for students attending a nearby orthodox Jewish yeshiva named after American millionaire Irving Moskowitz, who has bankrolled numerous right-wing settler movements and financed settlements in and around Jerusalem.

In a front-page article in the New York Times, Hagit Ofran of the Israeli settlement watchdog group Peace Now stated that there are 2,000 new housing units currently under construction since the ten-month settlement moratorium officially ended at the end of September, while an additional 13,000 are "in the pipeline" that do not require special government-issued building permits ("After freeze, settlement building booms in the West Bank," 22 December 2010).

The Palestinian Authority (PA), led by Mahmoud Abbas, drafted a resolution to the United Nations Security Council, demanding that the international body formally declare Israeli settlements to be illegal and call for a halt in construction and expansion, according to the Associated Press ("Palestinians target Israeli settlements in UN resolution," 29 December 2010).

The PA called the settlements an obstacle to peace, but did not demand sanctions be placed on the Israeli state for its violations of international law. The Associated Press added that the United States, for its part, "has already balked at the resolution and might veto it."

Egypt Allows Asia 1 Convoy into its Territories, Bans Iranian Activists, Aids From Entering


Organizers of Asia 1 convoy to break the siege on Gaza, told Alintiqad.com that the Egyptian authorities allowed the convoy to enter the Egyptian territories, and from there towards Gaza.

The Egyptian authorities on the other hand, did not allow the Iranian activists participating in the convoy, in addition to the aids they carried, into Egypt.

According to Alintiqad.com, the organizers said that Egypt's authorities allowed in its territories 120 activists out of the total 170, giving the convoy the freedom to choose the individuals, under the condition of not having any Iranian among them.

After 20 Iranian activists were no allowed in, 50 others will also be banned from entering Gaza, due to the conditions set by Egypt.

The Asia 1 organizers have not yet adopted any decision concerning the Egyptian measures, but they confirmed that they will contact the Egyptian embassy in Damascus, and ask the authorities to cut down the conditions.

Asia 1 convoy to break the siege on Gaza, was supposed to arrive in Gaza by 27 December, but was delayed due to the Egyptian authorities' delay in giving the convoy approval to enter their territories.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Deadly Blast Targets Egypt Church

Few days ago El-Fiqy warned of the potential threats to Egyptian national security caused by Sudan’s breakup saying that “Israel will have a presence on our southern border" I am sure El-Fiqy and his Pharaoh are aware that the real threats to Egyptian national security is here:


In the Israeli embassy, on the top floor of a towerblock in Cairo, lead by the fluent Arabic speakerYitzhak Levanon,  a spy and a son of spy who had been sentenced to death in Lebanon and  released in 1967 as part of a prisoner exchange in the aftermath of the Six Day War.

The chief spy left Cairo immediately after the Egyptian authorities discovered a spy ring affiliated with the Mossad and pointed out to his involvement in this case.

However, before leaving, he left his New Year Gift to Egyptians.

Via Al-Manar 

01/01/2011 The first day in the new year of 2011 was deadly in Egypt, as a car bomb attack on a church in Alexandria has killed at least 21 people.

The attack was then followed by clashes between enraged Christians and police, as the protesters stormed a nearby mosque, prompting fights and volleys of stone throwing with Muslims, in a sign of the sectarian anger that has been arising with greater frequency in Egypt.

"The number of dead has risen to 21," health ministry official, Ussama Abdel Moneim said, adding that eight people were wounded in the attack. An earlier toll from the interior ministry said seven people had been killed and 24 wounded.

There was no immediate responsibility for the attack which came as the faithful left the Al-Qiddissine (The Saints) church in the Sidi Bechr district of the northern city at around half past midnight.

The interior ministry said earlier in a statement that eight of those wounded wer Muslims, and that the church and a nearby mosque were severely damaged.

According to the ministry the car that exploded was parked in front of the church.
The prosecutor has opened an investigation.

Spokesman for Al-Azhar, Refaa al-Tahtawi, Islam's main institution based in Cairo, appeared on television to denounce the attack which he said “targeted Egyptian national unity.”
He also appealed to Christians and Muslims for calm.
Agencies

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Lebanon in 2010: Slogans Triumph…

Hussein Assi

31/12/2010 In only a few hours, the year 2010 will close its last page…

In only a few hours, Lebanese will "celebrate" the "end" of the year 2010, without any "regret," paving the way for another year to continue the difficult path…

The year 2010 might not be of the best that Lebanese witnessed in the last decade. Indeed, and despite the fact that the year 2010 wasn't hit by a series of blasts or political assassinations, it was characterized since its beginning by "catastrophes" from all kinds, natural but also political ones.

The year, which ends with a "dark" picture despite a "window of hope", has portrayed the Lebanese State as "powerless" and "ineffective" as Lebanese are just wishing their "paralyzed" government could hold a session and take a decision over a sensitive issue such as the false witnesses’ file.

Thus, the general picture with the end of the year 2010 seems to be as follows: a "conflict" between settlement and chaos, the final indictment in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri is believed to be released "very very soon," the Saudi-Syrian efforts to resolve the Lebanese crisis have reached their semi-final stages, the false witnesses continue to enjoy a Lebanese and international "protection" until further notice…

This is the general picture with the end of the year 2010, the year which began with a "catastrophe" on January 25 with the collapse of the famous Ethiopian plane and which ended with tens of question marks over the future of the country…

SPECIAL TRIBUNAL FOR LEBANON: TALK OF THE TOWN

During the year 2010, the so-called Special Tribunal for Lebanon turned to be the "talk of the town" in the country after being the essence of all debates and conflicts. The STL, which aims by definition to find the killers of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, didn’t seem in 2010 to be a uniting factor in the country after its political aspect was uncovered.

The STL officials sought during the year to defend their tribunal as its Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare ended the year claiming that allegations of politicization are groundless and that such claims are made by "people who may fear the outcome of the tribunal's decision or of the tribunal's effort to uncover the truth."

Lebanese, however, weren’t convinced by Bellemare’s statements that the final indictment would be supported by credible evidence especially that a large majority of them believes that the verdict is already written and awaits the suitable political timing.

HEZBOLLAH BATTLE AGAINST STL POLITICIZATION

This conclusion was made by Lebanese thanks to the campaign launched by Hezbollah throughout the year against the tribunal’s politicization. The starting point was made on March 31 when Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah announced, during an exclusive interview with Al-Manar Television, that the Attorney General office contacted 12 people who have close ties with Hezbollah and requested they appear before judicial authorities as witnesses.

After a long break, Sayyed Nasrallah raised the issue again on July 22 in a press conference in which he warned that Lebanon has been pushed into a very sensitive and complicate stage from the gates of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. While expressing belief that the indictment had been written, before the investigation, Sayyed Nasrallah revealed that Prime Minister Saad Hariri has visited him and told him an indictment will be issued and it will implicate ‘undisciplined members of Hezbollah’, not the whole party.

The battle entered a new stage on August 9 when Sayyed Nasrallah held a press conference with one bold headline: Israel behind Rafiq Hariri’s assassination. During the conference, his eminence the Israeli enemy of involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, presenting tangible proof and evidence of an Israeli potential role in the crime as well as other crimes that hit Lebanon during the few past years.

The Israeli hypothesis was ignored as expected by the STL officials, who were engaged on October 27 when a team of investigators entered a gynecology clinic in Southern Suburb of Beirut and demanded the archives of a number of patients, sparking dispute with women there. In response, Hezbollah Secretary General called on October 28 called for boycotting and ending cooperation with the international investigators affiliated with the international tribunal, warning that cooperation with these investigators was the same as facilitating their mission and attacking the Resistance.

On November 11, Sayyed Nasrallah announced that the party’s members and Mujahideen were believed to be a red line. During his speech, Sayyed Nasrallah said that whoever believes that the Resistance might accept that any of its Mujahideen or leaders be accused of involvement in the assassination is mistaken regardless of the degree of the threats and pressures exerted on the Resistance, adding that any hand that would seek to arrest any of Hezbollah members would be cut off.

The final Hezbollah position towards the tribunal was declared by Sayyed Nasrallah on December 16 when his eminence said loudly that conspiracy of the STL will go with the wind just like the fate of previous conspiracies, days after Hezbollah has opened the legal confrontation with the tribunal through a press conference held on December 8 by the head of the Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc MP Mohamad Raad and the legal expert Salim Jrayssati.

SAUDI-SYRIAN ALLIANCE IN LEBANON’S INTEREST

Hezbollah believed that the STL was nothing but a conspiracy targeting the region and the Resistance in particular. In contrast, the Resistance party has always announced its full support for the Saudi-Syrian efforts to resolve the Lebanese crisis through all means.

In this context, July 30 seems to be an exceptional day for Lebanon. In this day, Lebanon has received at the same time two exceptional leaders: Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and Syrian President Bashar Assad. They came together to Lebanon, delivering a clear message to all Lebanese and consolidating security in the country.

It was also the launching date of the Saudi-Syrian efforts which are still continuous with Syrian President Bashar Assad saying that they have reached their semi-final stage, and as press reports predicted that the Syrian-Saudi initiative’s outcome be released before January 15.

AHMADINEJAD IN LEBANON

Another exceptional date in the year 2010 was, without doubt, October 13.

On this day, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an unprecedented exceptional and historic visit aimed at stressing unity of the Lebanese and Iranian peoples. The Iranian President, who was greeted by crowds gathered at the Airport Road, spent two days in Lebanon between the capital Beirut and the Resistant South, where he took part in a series of official and public ceremonies.

The Iranian President’s visit to Beirut, which was preceded by a phone call between him and the Saudi king, was hailed by all Lebanese parties, including those who earlier slammed the visit as "provocative," in a suspicious with the Israeli enemy’s state of alertness which was maintained until Ahmadinejad left Lebanon.

Other Arab and Western leaders visited Lebanon during the year 2010 as well, including Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who visited Beirut on 24 November, as well as Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa and others.

JUMBLATT FINALLY IN DAMASCUS

The main event of the year was, meanwhile, the return of excellent ties between Damascus and the head of the Democratic Gathering in Lebanon MP Walid Jumblatt.

The Progressive Socialist Party leader, who didn’t take part in 2010 for the first time in the festival organized by the so-called March 14 party in the anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, reconciled with all his former foes, including former President Emil Lahoud, Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and, of course, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The road to Damascus was not too easy for Jumblatt, who said on February 2 that he will not apologize. But on February 9, everything changed. He made his first confession, denying having called for Syria’s invasion, hoping that his clarification would delete the past’s insults. On February 23, he admitted that he has made mistakes. On March 13, he went on to urge President Assad to forget what he has said in the past and went on to say that personally, he will forgive and forget everything related to the past.

Finally, Jumblatt got what he sought to achieve. On March 15, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah informed him that the Syrian leadership will open a new chapter in its relation with him and that Syrian President Bachar Assad will receive him in Damascus at a date to be announced later.

Before the month of March saw its end, Jumblatt’s dream turned to be true and the PSP leader was visiting Syria and meeting with President Assad.

SEDITION… RED LINE OF 2010!

Sedition might be the most used word by Lebanese politicians during the year of 2010. All of them confronted it, all of them didn’t seek it, all of them believed it was the most serious threat endangering the country. But all of them warned it was very probable.

On August 24, a "stupid" clash could have paved the way for it. However, and thanks to Hezbollah and Association of Islamic Charitable Projects (Al-Ahbash) quick response, sedition didn’t triumph. After a clash which left three martyrs, including two Hezbollah senior members, both groups issued a joint statement in which they said that the incident resulted from a personal dispute and stressed that the incident has no political or sectarian background. The calm was restored between the two parties and was consolidated on August 30, when Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and Al-Ahbash chief Shiekh Hussam Qaraqirah met and agreed on forming a commission charged with compensating the people hurt by the clash.

Sedition also appeared through some sectarian statements made throughout the year by many March 14 politicians who didn’t hesitate to use sectarian expressions and to ignite Lebanese. Its threat was also manifested by a political TV show “Kalam An-Nass” over weapons.

NATIONAL DIALOGUE… MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?!

During the year 2010, the national dialogue returned with a new season at the Baabda Presidential Palace with new participants. However, the “unsuccessful” season seemed to have ended unexpectedly.

The national dialogue table was reactivated with the beginning of the year 2010 and new figures took part in the new season, including the head of the Marada movement MP Sleiman Franjieh, the head of the Lebanes Democratic party MP Talal Erslan, the of the Syrian Socialist National Party MP Assaad Hardan and others.

Yet, nothing has been achieved throughout the year concerning the defense strategy, the main subject of debate. Therefore, the only achievement made by the table was its success in uniting the rival political leaders. This achievement, however, didn’t seem to be possible anymore.

On November 4, the political crisis in the country was reflected in the dialogue table, which was boycotted by the national opposition. Speaker Nabih Berri was the only opposition representative. The session was postponed after less than an hour of its beginning with a promise of a new meeting before Independence Day, meaning November 22.

Unfortunately, the year has ended without witnessing another session of the formal dialogue committee.

FALSE WITNESSES PARALYZED GOVERNMENT

The national dialogue committee was not the only paralyzed institution during the year 2010. The so-called national unity is exemplary in this context.

The government, which adopted the slogan of the “people’s priority,” didn’t seem to look at the people and their concerns. The false witnesses were its only preoccupation as March 14 ministers insisted in “protecting” them.

The government, which is unable to hold any session out of fear of settling the issue of the false witnesses, has opened their file on September 6, when Prime Minister Saad Hariri admitted that they were present and that they have harmed the Lebanese-Syrian ties. His acknowledgement was not reflected in the cabinet. In response, AMAL ministers decided on October 6 that they won’t take part in any cabinet session that would not tackle the issue of the false witnesses. The opposition was afterwards united and stressed the necessity of referring the false witnesses’ file to the Judicial Council, calling for resorting to the voting process since consensus was not reached, a principle that was rejected by President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

In addition to the false witnesses, two main challenges threatened the government’s unity in 2010. The first was Lebanon’s participation in the Arab Summit which was held in Libya, which AMAL and Hezbollah were rejecting. The government decided on March 24 to charge Lebanon’s ambassador to the Arab League to represent in the country, in what seemed to be an exist that satisfied all parties.

The sanctions against Iran threatened the government as well. While the opposition was calling for Lebanon to stand against the sanctions in the United Nations Security Council, the final decision was to stay “neutral” and abstain from voting. The decision was made on June 9.

Meanwhile, the municipal elections seemed to be the only semi-achievement made by the government in 2010, given that the government failed in adopting the new electoral law in the municipal polls.

ARMY-RESISTANCE-PEOPLE BALANCE…

The year 2010 was also characterized by the success of the golden balance of the Army-Resistance-People balance in defense of Lebanon.

On August 3, the Lebanese Army engaged in a heroic battle with the so-called undefeatable army, the Israeli one. But the Lebanese national army couldn’t remain quiet in the face of the Israeli provocations which violated all norms, given that the Israeli enemy was violating the Lebanese sovereignty day and night.

RESISTANCE AND ARMY ACHIEVEMENTS…

The cooperation between the Resistance and the Army was also reflected during the year 2010 through original achievements in the domain of confronting the Israeli spying activities in Lebanon.

On December 15, the Lebanese Army announced that it has dismantled two "espionage devices" that Israel had placed on top of two of the country's mountains, acting on an alert from the Resistance.

The Islamic Resistance has also announced on December 3 that it has succeeded in thwarting an Israeli spy attempt on its telecommunications network in Wadi al-Qaisiyeh near Majdal Silim in South Lebanon.

PSYCHOLOGICAL WAR CONTINUOUS…
The cooperation between the army and the resistance also paved the way during the year 2010 to arrest a number of Israeli Mossad spies in the country as part of the psychological which continued in 2010.

One of the most serious concerns of the year 2010 was that the Telecoms networks in Lebanon was completely violated, a fact that Lebanon highlighted before international institutions, getting international condemnations by Telecoms companies and gatherings.

LAST WORD
Away from politics, one sad event took place in 2010…

In this year, and precisely on July 4, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohamad Hussein Fadallah passed away after a conflict with illness, leaving behind them a complete and rich heritage for all coming generations.

Sayyed Fadlallah, who was mourned by all Lebanese as a huge loss to the country, died but is still alive in the spirits of all those who loved him and trusted him… 7:38:52 PM

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Jewish settlers confiscate Palestinian land in Toubas

[ 31/12/2010 - 05:02 PM ]

TOUBAS, (PIC)-- A group of extremist Jewish settlers in the northern West Bank district of Toubas confiscated vast areas of Palestinian-owned land around the Rotim settlement.

Palestinian eyewitnesses said on Thursday that dozens of settlers raided on Wednesday night lands adjacent to the Rotim and confiscated about 30 dunums (1 dunum= 100sq meters), one of the settlers even started ploughing the land.

Aref Daragmeh, local head of Bedouin council said that the confiscated land belonged to four Palestinian citizens, two of them from the same family.

He called on human rights organisations to help Palestinians protect their land.

Bourini: International silence encourages settlers’ assaults
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Hope in 2011: Peoples, Civil Society Stand Tall

by Carlos Latuff
Posted by realistic bird on December 31, 2010

by Ramzy Baroud, source

When the Iraqi army fell before invading US and British troops in 2003, the latter’s mission seemed to be accomplished. But nearly eight years after the start of a war intended to shock and awe a whole population into submission, the Iraqi people continue to stand tall. They have confronted and rejected foreign occupations, held their own against sectarianism, and challenged random militancy and senseless acts of terrorism.

For most of us, the Iraqi people’s resolve cannot be witnessed, but rather deduced. Eight years of military strikes, raids, imprisonments, torture, humiliation and unimaginable suffering were still not enough to force the Iraqis into accepting injustice as a status quo.

In August 2010, the United States declared the end of its combat mission in Iraq, promising complete withdrawal by the end of 2011. However, US military action has continued, only under different designations. The occupation of Iraq carries on, despite the tactical shifts of commands and the rebranding effort.

However, were it not for the tenacity of the Iraqi people, who manage to cross-sectarian, political and ideological divides, there would be no talk of withdrawals or deadlines. There would be nothing but cheap oil, which could have ushered in a new golden age of imperialism – not in Iraq, but throughout the so-called Third World. The Iraqi people have managed to stop what could have become a dangerous trend.
2010 was another year where Iraqis held strong, and civil societies throughout the world stood with them in solidarity, a solidarity that will continue until full sovereignty is attained.

Palestine provides another example of international solidarity, one that is unsurpassed in modern times. Civil society has finally crossed the line between words and sentiments of solidarity into actual and direct action. The Israeli siege on Gaza, which was supported by the United States and few other Western powers, resembled more than a humanitarian crisis. It was a moral crisis as well, especially as the besieged population of Gaza was subjected to a most brutal war at the end of 2008, followed by successive lethal military strikes. The four year long siege has devastated a population whose main crime was exercising its democratic right to vote, and refusing to submit to the military and political diktats of Israel.

Gaza remains a shining example of human strength in our time. This is a fact the Israeli government refuses to accept. Israeli and other media reported that the Israeli army will be deploying new tanks to quell the resistance of the strip, with the justification that Palestinians fighters managed to penetrate the supposedly impenetrable Israeli Merkava tank. Israeli military chief Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, who made the revelation in a recent parliamentary session, may never comprehend that neither a Mekava (or whatever new model he will be shipping to Gaza soon) nor the best military hardware anywhere could penetrate the will of the unwavering Palestinians.

Gaza is not alone. Civil society leaders representing every religion, nationality and ideology have tirelessly led a campaign of solidarity with the Palestinian people. The breadth and magnitude of this solidarity has been unmatched in recent times, at least since the anti-fascist International Brigades units resolutely defended the Second Spanish Republic between 1936-1939.

The solidarity has come at a cost. Many activists from Turkey and various other countries were killed in the high seas as they attempted to extend a hand of camaraderie to the people of Gaza and Palestine. Now, knowing the dangers that await them, many activists the world over are still hoping to set sail to Gaza in 2011.

Indeed, 2010 was a year that human will proved more effective than military hardware. It was the year human solidarity crossed over like never before into new realms, bringing with it much hope and many new possibilities.

But the celebration of hope doesn’t end in Palestine and Iraq. It merely begins there. Champions of human rights come from every color and creed. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, The Most Rev. Dr. Desmond Tutu of South Africa, former US President Jimmy Carter and other luminaries and civil society heroes and heroines from across the world will continue their mission of peace and justice, as they have for many years.

These well-known names are only part of the story. There are literary millions of unsung heroes that make the hardship of the years more tolerable, and who will continue to guide us through new years and unknown challenges.

Haiti was one country that was hit hardest in 2010.  The small nation was greeted on January 12, 2010 with a most catastrophic earthquake, followed by 52 aftershocks. Over half a million people were estimated killed and injured, and many more became homeless. The year ended on a similarly devastating note, as over 2,000 people died and 105,000 fell ill (according to estimates by the Pan American Health Organization) after a cholera outbreak ravished an already overwhelmed country.

It is rather strange how leading powers can be so immaculate and efficient in their preparations for war, and yet so scandalously slow in their responses to human need when there is no political or economic price to be exacted. But this discrepancy will hardly deter doctors and nurses at the St. Nicholas Hospital in Haiti, who, despite the dangerous lack of resources, managed to save 90 percent of their patients

Our hearts go out to Haiti and its people during these hard times. But Haiti needs more than good wishes and solemn prayers. It also needs courageous stances by civil society to offset the half-hearted commitments made by some governments and publicity-seeking leaders.

It must be said that hope is not a random word aimed at summoning a fuzzy, temporary feeling of positive expectations for the future. To achieve its intended meaning, it must be predicated on real, foreseeable values. It must be followed by action. Civil society needs to continue to step up and fill the gaps created or left wide open by self-seeking world powers.

Words don’t end wars, confront greed or slow down the devastation caused by natural disasters. People do. Let 2011 be a year of action, hope, and the uninterrupted triumph of civil society.

- Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).
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