Saturday, 25 June 2011

Alice Walker: Why I’m sailing to Gaza

Via A4P

June 25, 2011

by Alice Walker - CNN - 21 June 2011

Why am I going on the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza? I ask myself this, even though the answer is: What else would I do? I am in my sixty-seventh year, having lived already a long and fruitful life, one with which I am content.

It seems to me that during this period of eldering it is good to reap the harvest of one’s understanding of what is important, and to share this, especially with the young. How are they to learn, otherwise?

Our boat, The Audacity of Hope, will be carrying letters to the people of Gaza. Letters expressing solidarity and love. That is all its cargo will consist of. If the Israeli military attacks us, it will be as if they attacked the mailman. This should go down hilariously in the annals of history. But if they insist on attacking us, wounding us, even murdering us, as they did some of the activists in the last flotilla, Freedom Flotilla I, what is to be done?

There is a scene in the movie “Gandhi” that is very moving to me: it is when the unarmed Indian protesters line up to confront the armed forces of the British Empire. The soldiers beat them unmercifully, but the Indians, their broken and dead lifted tenderly out of the fray, keep coming.

Alongside this image of brave followers of Gandhi there is for me an awareness of paying off a debt to the Jewish civil rights activists who faced death to come to the side of black people in the South in our time of need. I am especially indebted to Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman who heard our calls for help – our government then as now glacially slow in providing protection to non-violent protestors-and came to stand with us.

They got as far as the truncheons and bullets of a few “good ol’ boys’” of Neshoba County, Mississippi and were beaten and shot to death along with James Cheney, a young black man of formidable courage who died with them. So, even though our boat will be called The Audacity of Hope, it will fly the Goodman, Cheney, Schwerner flag in my own heart.
And what of the children of Palestine, who were ignored in our President’s latest speech on Israel and Palestine, and whose impoverished, terrorized, segregated existence was mocked by the standing ovations recently given in the U.S. Congress to the prime minister of Israel?
I see children, all children, as humanity’s most precious resource, because it will be to them that the care of the planet will always be left. One child must never be set above another, even in casual conversation, not to mention in speeches that circle the globe.

As adults, we must affirm, constantly, that the Arab child, the Muslim child, the Palestinian child, the African child, the Jewish child, the Christian child, the American child, the Chinese child, the Israeli child, the Native American child, etc., is equal to all others on the planet. We must do everything in our power to cease the behavior that makes children everywhere feel afraid.

I once asked my best friend and husband during the era of segregation, who was as staunch a defender of black people’s human rights as anyone I’d ever met: how did you find your way to us, to black people, who so needed you? What force shaped your response to the great injustice facing people of color of that time?

I thought he might say the speeches, the marches, the example of Martin Luther King, Jr. or of others in the Movement who exhibited impactful courage and grace. But no. Thinking back, he recounted an episode from his childhood that had led him, inevitably, to our struggle.

He was a little boy on his way home from Yeshiva, the Jewish school he attended after regular school let out. His mother, a bookkeeper, was still at work; he was alone. He was frequently harassed by older boys from regular school, and one day two of these boys snatched his yarmulke (skull cap), and, taunting him, ran off with it, eventually throwing it over a fence.

Two black boys appeared, saw his tears, assessed the situation, and took off after the boys who had taken his yarmulke. Chasing the boys down and catching them, they made them climb the fence, retrieve and dust off the yarmulke, and place it respectfully back on his head.

It is justice and respect that I want the world to dust off and put – without delay, and with tenderness – back on the head of the Palestinian child. It will be imperfect justice and respect because the injustice and disrespect have been so severe. But I believe we are right to try.

That is why I sail.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Alice Walker.
A longer version of this article will appear on Alice Walker’s blog.
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Israel's Contempt for Law of the Seas

…and the EU’s contempt for the safety of its citizens who bring humanitarian relief to Gaza’s women and children

And on the high seas Israeli warships and helicopters assault and hijack vessels of other nations with impunity in order to maintain their illegal blockade of Gaza.

 by Stuart Littlewood

In 2008 two humanitarian vessels got through to Gaza. In an article entitled ‘Keeping the Sea-Lane to Gaza Open’, I wrote…
The success of the ‘Free Gaza’ boats in breaking the siege, and their safe arrival and departure, was due to the intervention and good offices of the British Foreign Office…
Before the peace activists set sail, the British government was asked about “action to ensure the freedom boats’ safe and uninterrupted passage to Gaza considering these are international waters and Palestinian territorial waters”. Any attempt to stop the boats would surely infringe the right to freedom of movement to and from Gaza, and seriously breach the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Israel is a party.
The minister in charge of Middle East affairs Kim Howells… has now revealed that “FCO officials spoke to Israeli officials in advance of the trip and Israel allowed the boats peacefully into Gaza.”
Bravo. Our chaps in London lift the phone to their chaps in Tel Aviv and – hey presto! – it’s all fixed. That’s diplomacy…

Yet here we are nearly three years later going through the same sorry process while ruthless foreign interests still relentlessly expand their influence by stealth, by subversion and by intimidation to persuade the rest of the world to let them do as they please in the Middle East and beyond.
In the UK and the EU we are losing control fast and will soon become abject Zionist stooges like America. It will soon be impossible to take back our country without organizing serious insurrection.

And on the high seas Israeli warships and helicopters assault and hijack vessels of other nations with impunity in order to maintain their illegal blockade of Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the German Left Party has issued a resolution prohibiting its parliamentary representatives from taking part in the upcoming Gaza Flotilla in an attempt to buy off criticism that the party is anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. They will not participate “in Middle East conflict initiatives that call for a one-state solution for Palestine and Israel and boycotts of Israeli products, as well this year’s Gaza Flotilla.”
An expert on left-wing anti-Semitism called Alex Feuerherdt told the newspaper that “it goes without saying” that participation in the Gaza Flotilla action is a “military attack on Israel”.
Such are the lengths to which the Zionist conspiracy will go to control the thoughts and actions of ordinary, decent people.

And this is the background against which the Gaza Freedom Flotilla II sets sail. The conspirators don’t want the boats to reach Gaza because their safe arrival would drive a coach and horses through the Zionists’ control-freakery. So they shriek and squawk and threaten dire consequences like last year when they assaulted the Mavi Marmara with lethal force in international waters, not caring how many they killed.

This has prompted the following statement by flotilla organizers to the UN Human Rights Council a few days ago:
“We are determined to sail to Gaza. Our cause is just and our means are transparent. To underline the fact that we do not present an imminent threat to Israel nor do we aim to contribute to a war effort against Israel, thus eliminating any claim by Israel to self-defense, we invite the HRC or any other UN or international agency to come on board and inspect our vessels at their point of departure, on the high seas, or on their arrival in the Gaza port. We will – and must – continue to sail until the illegal siege of Gaza is ended and Palestinians have the same human and national rights those of us sailing enjoy.”
– Steering Committee of the International Coalition for Gaza Freedom Flotilla II
One of the organizers in London tells me that when the British boat’s final passenger list is confirmed, the Foreign Office in London will be contacted with the details and asked to “act to ensure the safe passage of their citizens”.

Did the UK have a right to mount a general naval blockade of the Republic of Ireland in response to IRA terror?

Israel is clearly acting illegally by interfering with the flotilla’s peaceful mission, so what are the chances that Britain and other countries will provide necessary protection?
A UN fact-finding mission, dealing with the assault on the Mavi Marmara, has already declared that “no case can be made for the legality of the interception and the Mission therefore finds that the interception was illegal.

As for Israel’s naval blockade, it is “considered by the Mission to constitute collective punishment of the people living in the Gaza Strip and thus to be illegal and contrary to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention”. The action by Israel’s military in intercepting the Mavi Marmara on the high seas was “clearly unlawful” and could not be justified even under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations [the right of self-defense].

And let’s remember that Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) emphasizes “the need to ensure sustained and regular flow of goods and people through the Gaza crossings” and calls for “the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment”.

The Centre for Constitutional Rights has also concluded

that the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is illegal under international law. “Due both to the legal nature of Israel’s relationship to Gaza – that of occupier – and the impact of the blockade on the civilian population, amounting to ‘collective punishment’, the blockade cannot be reconciled with the principles of international law, including international humanitarian law. It is recalled that the international community, speaking through both the United Nations and individual States, has repeatedly and emphatically called for an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

“The flotilla did not seek to travel to Israel, let alone ‘attack’ Israel. Furthermore, the flotilla did not constitute an act which required an ‘urgent’ response, such that Israel had to launch a middle-of-the-night armed boarding… Israel could also have diplomatically engaged Turkey, arranged for a third party to verify there were no weapons onboard and then peacefully guided the vessel to Gaza.”
Craig Murray was deputy head of the teams which negotiated the UK’s maritime boundaries with France, Germany, Denmark (Faeroe Islands) and Ireland. As Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, he was responsible for giving political and legal clearance to Royal Navy boarding operations in the Persian Gulf following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, in enforcement of the UN authorised blockade against Iraqi weapons shipments. He is therefore an internationally recognized authority on these matters.

Referring to the participation of an American boat in Flotilla II , he says: “Right of free passage is guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, to which the United States is a full party. Any incident which takes place upon a US flagged ship on the High Seas is subject to United States legal jurisdiction. A ship is entitled to look to its flag state for protection from attack on the High Seas…

“Israel has declared a blockade on Gaza and justified previous fatal attacks on neutral civilian vessels on the High Seas in terms of enforcing that embargo, under the legal cover given by the San Remo Manual of International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea.”

“There are however fundamental flaws in this line of argument. It falls completely on one fact alone. San Remo only applies to blockade in times of armed conflict. Israel is not currently engaged in an armed conflict, and presumably does not wish to be. San Remo does not confer any right to impose a permanent blockade outwith times of armed conflict, and in fact specifically excludes as illegal a general blockade on an entire population.”

He acknowledges that Israel suffers from sporadic terrorist attacks from Gaza but this does not come close to reaching the bar of armed conflict that would trigger the right to impose a naval blockade. When the UK suffered continued terrorist attack from the Irish Republican Army, sustaining many more deaths than anything Israel has suffered in recent years from Gaza, it would have been ridiculous to argue that the UK had a right to mount a general naval blockade of the Republic of Ireland.
So Israel doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Therefore “all good men and true” should rally to support these brave voyagers and ensure their governments back their play.

But here’s a question put by MEP Kyriacos Triantaphyllides and the answer from the EU Commission


One year after the military action by Israel against a convoy carrying humanitarian aid supplies to Gaza, during which at least ten civilians were killed, another humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza is now being organised, the principal cargo being supplies of stationery for school pupils. Is the EU and in particular the Commission aware of the new mission that is being organised and what is its position on this matter?

Given the participation of EU Member State nationals and the presence of MEPs, will the EU take any measures to ensure that the personal safety of its nationals is not endangered?


After the organisation of a flotilla heading to Gaza in May 2010, the Quartet, of which the EU is a member, stated that all those wishing to deliver goods to Gaza should do so through established channels, so that their cargo can be inspected and transferred via land crossings into Gaza. It also stated that there was no need for unnecessary confrontations and that all parties should act responsibly in meeting the needs of the people of Gaza.

In the same spirit, the Chair’s Conclusions of the 13 April 2011 meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) on donor coordination for Palestine reiterated a call on all international supporters to make use of the existing land crossings to channel their support to Gaza, and abstain from provocations.

The Commission stands by this line. A flotilla is not the appropriate response to the humanitarian situation in Gaza. At the same time, Israel must abide by international law when dealing with a possible flotilla. The EU continues to request the lifting of the blockade on Gaza, including the naval blockade.

EU Member States have the responsibility to protect their citizens abroad via their consular services. This responsibility covers assistance for their citizens who might participate in a possible flotilla. As in May-June 2010, the EU Delegation in Tel Aviv stands ready to function as a hub for information and to coordinate the efforts of the consular services of EU Member States.

So there you have it… the treacherous contradictions we have come to expect from this unelected body, including advice that Member States have a responsibility to protect their citizens AFTER they’ve been murdered.

The “established channel” for delivering goods to Gaza is of course the time-honoured route by sea, which is protected by maritime and international law and therefore entirely appropriate. There’s nothing “provocative” about it. The organizers have offered their cargoes for inspection and verification by a trusted third party to allay Israel’s fears about weapon supplies. They should not have to dirty their hands dealing with the belligerent regime that’s cruelly turning the screws on civilians with an illegal blockade. Anyone suggesting they must do so seeks to legitimize the blockade, which we all know to be illegal and a crime against humanity.

Members of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee include the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel, so no wonder it bends over backwards to accommodate Israel’s criminal action.
Read more by Stuart Littlewood

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SABAWI: The right to remain and the right to return: spotlight on Palestinian refugees

Via A4P

June 23, 2011

Editor’s Note: As refugee week draws to a close for another year, refugees the world over remain just as isolated, despised and forgotten as before and the numbers are increasing, not decreasing. The Palestinians are by far the largest and longest running unresolved refugee problem with some 7 million of them waiting to return home. That should have been reason enough to have some focus on their predicament in our media this week. But, there was no apparent interest in the article written by Samah Sabawi to highlight the often intolerable conditions under which they live; nor it seems in Samah’s own firsthand experience as a stateless refugee before she became a naturalised Australian citizen.

Hers is a human story as much as all the others. Everyone of them have faced personal challenges trying to find acceptance and belonging even as they grapple with the trauma of displacement, dispossession and for many a violent uprooting from all that is familiar. How did it all happen and why is it still happening today? More importantly, why has international law failed them when by right they should be able to return home – a right that is inalienable, that cannot be taken away by force or decree and that can never be expunged by bringing foreigners in their place?
Below, Samah explains what it means to be a Palestinian refugee in a world that has done nothing in more than six decades to ensure that their rights are respected and honoured. We need to do more than remember them in refugee week. They are human like us after all.

by Samah Sabawi - 24 June 2011

I was 12 years old when for the first time in my life I became a citizen of a country – Australia. Before that, I was a stateless Palestinian refugee. There were two laments my parents always repeated whenever they spoke of their place of origin Palestine: if only we could have stayed and if only we could return.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in 2009 there were more than 10 million refugees around the world in need of assistance. This number does not include the 7 million Palestinian refugees, who make up the world’s largest refugee population and whose question is the longest standing at the UN.

The plight of Palestinian refugees began 63 years ago when they were forced out of their homes or fled in fear as the Israeli state established itself on the ruins of their villages and their towns and it has not ended. The fact their issue still stands today, unresolved, is a poignant reminder that states and governments will continue to fail the weak and disenfranchised for the sake of political gains and posturing.

Refugees are by definition powerless, in many cases they are either stateless or have lost the protection of their nation state. They depend on international bodies to rescue them. There are two norms which guide the way the international community deals with refugee issues under the UNHCR, the first is to provide protection and assistance to refugees, and the second is to not return individuals to their own countries against their will or if they are at risk of persecution. However, various human rights conventions have over the years created additional norms that work as guidelines to resolve refugee issues by providing preventative measures to make it possible for people to remain on their land and rather than focusing on resettlement alone, safeguarding the rights of refugees to return to their homes if they choose to.

The concept of ‘preventive protection’ is especially important in the case of Palestinian refugees. The right of individuals and communities to remain in their own country is a principle which rejects the expulsion of ethnic communities or what is now known as ‘ethnic cleansing.’ The U.N. Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities has affirmed “the right of persons to remain in peace in their own homes, on their own lands and in their own countries”. The Turku/Abo Declaration on Minimum Humanitarian Standards also provides in Article 7: 1 “All persons have right to remain in peace in their homes and their places of residence.” Also Article 7 states : “No person shall be compelled to leave their own country”.

Some in Israel may argue that because Palestinian refugees are not citizens of the state, they have no right to refer to the land from which they come from as ‘their country’. This claim is refuted by a litany of legal and human rights experts, most important of all, it is refuted by the UNHCR which defines the Palestinian population as the indigenous people of the land.

Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation face sever measures aimed to uproot them. One example is the practice of revoking residency rights: Hamoked, an Israeli NGO filed a freedom of information request from the Israeli government and found that over 140,000 Palestinians who left to study or work had their residency rights revoked between 1967 and 1994. They wrote in a statement ”The mass withdrawal of residency rights from tens of thousands of West Bank residents, tantamount to permanent exile from their homeland, remains an illegitimate demographic policy and a grave violation of international law.”

Another example of an Israeli policy that is at the heart of the creation of the Palestinian refugee crisis is that of house demolition. An Israeli human rights group called the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) estimates at least 24,813 homes were demolished in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza since 1967, and that according to UN figures, during the 2009 Gaza bombing, more than 4,247 Palestinian homes were destroyed.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reports that Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes and other buildings reached a record high in March of this year. According to UNRWA, 76 buildings were demolished leading to the displacement of 158 people, including 64 children. UNRWA put the total number of displaced persons in the last six months alone to 333, including 175 children. UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness described the policy as “discrimination against one ethnic group”. These actions are illegal under article 53 of the 4th Geneva Convention and have been roundly criticized by the UN and other international groups, as well as by human rights organisations.
There are various other policies that drive Palestinians out of their homes, especially in Jerusalem where Palestinian neighborhoods are targeted for evictions to make way for Jewish settlers to move in. Once exiled, Palestinians are denied the right to ever return. This is also illegal under international humanitarian law.
The right to return voluntarily and in safety to one’s country of origin or nationality is a right enshrined in the rules of traditional international law and also in Human rights law. The U.N. Security Council has affirmed “the right of refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes”. The Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities has affirmed “the right of refugees and displaced persons to return, in safety and dignity, to their country of origin and or within it, to their place of origin or choice”.
This right is a pillar of international humanitarian law simply because it acknowledges that human beings form attachments to their native land. This is not a case that is unique to Palestinian refugees; it is one shared by indigenous people everywhere. Attachment to the land of one’s origin is a natural human condition and is precisely why these sentiments and emotional ties are protected.
The Palestinian refugee population will continue to grow because we in the international community have failed to find informed appropriate responses to their cries for help. We must intensify our efforts to prevent the increase of the number of Palestinian refugees that Israel uproots from the land and to help the indigenous people maintain their right to remain on the land. We also need to pressure Israel to make a repatriation offer to all the Palestinian refugees and to allow them to practice the right to return to their homes should they so choose. Failing to do so will set a negative precedent and can have an adverse consequence for the millions of other refugees.
Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian Australian writer, author of Journey to Peace in Palestine and public advocate of Australians for Palestine. She is a policy advisor for Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. She is in Sydney this week to take part in the Refugee Week’s Hebron-Leichhardt Festival of Friendship.
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Settlers intensify their tours of West Bank mountains

[ 24/06/2011 - 02:17 PM ]  

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Acquainted sources said that Zionist usurpers have lately intensified exploratory tours to the mountains of the West Bank.

A number of farmers from different areas in the West Bank said that groups of settlers, ranging in number between ten and forty settlers were seen on group tours of the mountains and valleys of the West Bank.

The farmers added that the settlers are focusing in their tours on the springs and archaeological sites, and they are in possession of maps of the places they visit sometimes leaving marks in those places.

Palestinians fear that these tours are a prelude to theft and control of those places by the settlers in the absence of any resistance in the West Bank.
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Hezbollah Prepared To Open Front With Israel To Relieve Pressure On Syrian President

Sources Claim

author Thursday June 23, 2011 12:21author by Kevin Murphy - IMEMC and Agencies
hez.jpgIsraeli newspapers Haaretz and JPost are claiming that the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah are gearing up for possible action against Israel in the case that Syrian leader Bashar al Assad's position comes under significant threat, according to sources close to the movement.
Sources close to Lebanese Shite group Hezbollan have said that the organisation may open a front agaisnt Israel to deflect pressure from Syrian president Bashar al Assad if his position becomes significantly threatened. The Syrian leader has been rocked by pro democracy protests in recent weeks and months that have claimed the lives of 1,500 protesters according to some sources.
The source, which claimed that the US lost an alley in ousted Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarrak and were now seeking to even the balance of power by toppling Assad, said "the region now is at war, a war between what is good and what is backed by Washington... Syria is the good".
Syria is one of Hezbollah's major allies and provides significant funding and arms to the group in their wars with Israel, the latest of which was in 2006. Hezbollah is also dependent on Syria to allow the transfer of arms from its other major regional ally, Iran, into Lebanon.
In turn Syria has used Hezbollah as a means of retaining influence in Lebanon after it was forced to withdraw from the region after the assination of Lebanese pro independence President Rafiq Hariri in 2005. Both Syria and Hezbollah have been implicated by the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon as having roles in the assassination.

Questioned as to whether the groups support for Assad was inconsistent with its support for other "Arab Spring" pro democracy movements in Egypt and Bahrain the source claimed there was no contradiction. "When the regime is against Israel and is committed to reforms then Hezbollah decision is to be by the side of the people and the leadership through urging them for dialogue and partnership," the source claimed.

Hezbollah receive wide support from many in the region due to their role in expelling Israel from Southern Lebanon in 2000 and repelling an Israeli attack in 2006.

Lebanon has recently announced a new government dominated by Hezbollah sypathisers following the withdrawel of the group from Lebanons previous government in Febuary. 
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Today in Palestine! ~ Thursday, 23 June 2011

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Settlers

Israel calls demolition report 'incorrect'

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 June -- Israel's Civil Administration lashed out Wednesday night, calling a rights group report "incorrect and misleading," in its claim that home demolitions had spiked alarmingly in 2011. Israeli rights group B'Tselem had published a document saying more homes had been demolished in the first six months of 2011 than in the 12 months of the year before.

IOA orders destruction of Jerusalem home
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 23 June -- An Israeli court issued a ruling Wednesday in favor of destroying the home of Wael al-Razem in the Wadi Yasul neighborhood of Jerusalem’s Silwan district, claiming the home was built without license. The family of eight, most of whom are children, was given until the middle of July to evacuate.

Israeli soldiers shoot, severely beat Palestinian

JERUSALEM (WAFA) 23 June -- Israeli police are detaining Palestinian man Ahmed Ali Mahmoud, 36, in Shaare Zedek hospital west of Jerusalem, despite his injury with live bullets and bruises to his head after an assault by Israeli soldiers yesterday in Al-Issawiya town in Jerusalem. Mahmoud’s family said his condition is stable after he was shot with a live bullet in his leg, and that he is suffering from wounds and bruises to his face, yet Israeli police continue to bind his hands and feet.

Jerusalem Arab housing plan blocked by political right

IMEMC 23 June -- A plan to build 2,500 Arab housing units in East Jerusalem was stopped by right-wing pressure groups and Haredi city council members on the grounds that it was "politically dangerous" and "poorly conceived." Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat had proposed a construction plan for 2,500 houses on private land in southern East Jerusalem. The vote was canceled on Monday because it was clear that it had no chance of passing.

High Court rules Be'er Sheva mosque to be used as Islamic museum

Haaretz 23 June -- Court rules that the mosque won't be able to be used for prayer, but rejects Be'er Sheva municipality request to turn it into a [general] museum. A petition on the issue was submitted to the court by the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel in 2002. The petition requests that the mosque be once again used as a house of worship, which it was until the War of Independence in 1948 ... The struggle to have the mosque used for prayer has been going on since the '70s, but the municipality has continuously refused the request -- announcing instead their intention to turn it into a museum. Muslim residents of Be'er Sheva as well as Bedouin living nearby have been prevented from praying in the mosque, despite repeated requests to do so.

Jordan Valley families left homeless

JERICHO (Ma‘an) 23 June -- "The big soldier wouldn’t speak to me. He just said ‘This is my job, sit down and shut up’," the newly homeless Ralia Darraghmeh, a diabetes sufferer in her sixties, said of the one of the crew who had come to demolish her home Tuesday morning. She was sitting alone, crying, in Khirbet Yarza, a tiny Bedouin hamlet, as her tin home was taken down by order of Israel's Civil Administration, which governs planning and permit issuing in the 60 percent of the West Bank categorized as Area C under the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Activism / Solidarity
IDF takes down Bil‘in fence

Ynet 22 June -- Three and a half years after Supreme Court ruled fence was illegal, IDF begins to take down controversial barrier ... The length of fence set to be removed from Bil‘in is 2.7 kilometers long. The new route which is set to replace the existing fence is 3.2 kilometers long, mostly a cement wall, due to the proximity to Modiin Elite and fears of gunfire from the Palestinian side at Israel. The new route will mean that 700 dunums of land will be given back to the Palestinians, but the fact that 60% of the lands were expropriated to begin with means that the conflict still stands.,7340,L-4085986,00.html

Video: Israeli army begins dismantling the Wall in Bil‘in

Israeli court sentences Palestinian teen to 6 months

WAFA 23 June -- An Israeli court in Ofer military camp near Ramallah Monday sentenced Amjad Abu Rahmeh, 15, from the village of Bil‘in to six months in prison after it found him guilty of participation in the weekly village demonstration. Abu Rahmeh had been in detention for four months before the court had passed its sentence.

Soldiers attack nonviolent protest near Ramallah

Ramallah - Ghassan Bannoura - PNN Exclusive 22 June -- Israeli soldiers attacked on Wednesday a non-violent protest organized by the villagers of Deir Qadis, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah ... Nilli settlement was constructed in 1984 by the State of Israel, on land that belongs to local farmers from Deir Qadis. Recently, the Israeli state decided to confiscate 125 acres of land from local farmers to expand Nilli. Today, protesters managed to stop bulldozers from working, at which point a private security guard fired live rounds at them while Israeli soldiers fired tear gas. Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation, while tear gas bombs caused a fire that damaged nearby olive crops and farmlands ... Yesterday, villagers of Deir Qadis held a similar protest at the same location which the Israeli troops attacked with tear gas, causing fires that almost reached people's homes.


Netanyahu: Israel to toughen conditions of Palestinian prisoners

Haaretz 23 June -- Prime minister announces that Israel will stop giving benefits to terrorists such as enrollment in academic studies, says 'the celebration is over.'

Rights group: Israel's minor prisoners must be given broader attention

RAMALLAH, (PIC) 23 June -- The inhumane conditions of Palestinian minors held in Israeli prisons must be given broader attention, said the Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights. This came in a report the rights center issued on Wednesday after it dispatched its legal expert for a visit to Israel’s Rimonim prison where she met with several minors. During the interview, the minors expressed strong discontent of the length of delays in court hearings, particularly those who expected to receive light sentences.

8 detained by Israeli in overnight raids

NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 June -- A young Palestinian from Madama village south of Nablus was one of eight detained during overnight raids Thursday morning, the Israeli military said. Head of the Madama village council Ihab Al-Qit said soldiers detained Asadallah Wajih Al-Qit, 21, after raiding his house in the village. The other seven have not yet been identified.

Red lights across district in memory of prisoners

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 June -- Traffic will grind to a halt as traffic lights switch to red for five minutes at noon on Thursday across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to a call by the Prisoners Center for Studies. The action is in support of all ill and aging Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, and is part of an effort to promote the issue among leaders from a popular level. Center director Ra‘fat Hamdoona said more creativity must be channeled to raising awareness of the situation of prisoners, as weekly protests in front of the Red Cross headquarters have become a "routine that needs to be changed."

Hamas rejects Red Cross demand to prove Shalit is alive

Reuters 23 June -- Hamas spokesman says the aid group should focus on ending the suffering of Palestinian prisoners instead of getting 'involved in Israeli security games' to reach the captured IDF soldier.


Gaza's children march against child labour

[photos] MEMO 23 June -- On Wednesday, children marched in the streets of Gaza to draw attention to their internationally recognised rights which are being violated with the on-going siege. They demanded recognition of their right to education, to live without fear for their lives and to have a decent standard of living enjoyed by children elsewhere. A large number of Palestinian children in Gaza drop out of school due to hardships brought on by the five-year blockade of the territory. Many have been forced to enter the job market in factories because of the high cost of living and loss of family members who had been the main breadwinners.

Israeli navy targets Gazan fishing boats

Gaza Strip, (Pal Telegraph) 23 June -Israeli occupation navy opened massive fire yesterday at Palestinian fishing boats off the shore of Rafah city in the south of Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported. Local sources said that Israeli navy opened fire at Palestinian boats near Rafah shore forcing many fishermen to leave the sea. There are nearly 3500 Palestinian fishermen who are exposed to daily attacks and harassments from Israeli gunboats

The first government school for the deaf opens in Palestine

Gaza – Osama Awad – PNN Exclusive 22 June -- The first government school for deaf people was opened in Gaza today ... In a phone call with PNN Abu Shaqer said that the ministry has been looking for years to build this school, adding that this is the first high school that will enable deaf people to finish their basic education rather than leaving school after the 9th grade, as conditions were previously.

300 loads of goods set to enter Gaza via Israel

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 June -- Israeli crossings officials said they would permit 300 truckloads of commercial goods, humanitarian aid and limited construction materials into the Gaza Strip on Thursday.


Hamas: Israel will not end siege; flotilla should sail

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 June -- Hamas urged organizers of the Freedom Flotilla II to push ahead with plans to sail to Gaza and break Israel's siege "despite threats," a statement from the party's spokesman said Thursday. The party gave its endorsement to the convoy of 10 international ships, saying it considered them as acting within the law in their attempt to break a siege that international rights groups and UN missions have called illegal. Speaking for the party, spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the flotilla - which plans to sail during the last week of June with a cargo of aid and activists - was essential, since Israel had demonstrated that "it never keeps its promises regarding the lifting or easing of the blockade" on Gaza.

US: Don't go to Gaza by sea

Ynet 23 June -- The United States updated a travel warning urging Americans to refrain from traveling to the Gaza Strip by sea and emphasizing risks, including a possible 10-year travel ban to Israel.,7340,L-4086021,00.html

UN envoy says Israel ready to intercept Gaza-bound flotilla

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 23 June -- Israel is prepared to intercept a flotilla seeking to breach Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, the country's UN ambassador warned Thursday. "Israel is determined to stop the flotilla," UN envoy Ron Prosor said, as preparations were underway for about 10 ships to embark later this month to Gaza to protest the longstanding Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territory.

Author Alice Walker to take part in Gaza flotilla despite US warning

Haaretz 23 June -- The celebrated poet and novelist wrote a special piece for CNN, outlining her intention to bring letters to the people of Gaza 'expressing solidarity and love.' ... Her letter goes on to talk about the brave "followers of Gandhi," and the "Jewish civil rights activists" who stood side by side with blacks in America's South and places her current "mission" within this context. .

German Left Party bars MPs from joining Gaza flotilla

BERLIN (JPost) 23 June -- The German Left Party earlier this month issued a resolution prohibiting its Bundestag deputies from participating in the Gaza Flotilla slated for late June and intended to break Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Billed as a resolution that would end the criticism that the Left Party is fundamentally anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, the resolution failed to impress the head of Germany’s Jewish community

Knesset: Zoabi sanctions proportional

Ynet 22 June -- Measures aim to stop Arab MK from participating in 'illegitimate' activities, Knesset legal advisor says ... The Knesset decided in July to take away Zoabi's diplomatic passport, restrict her travel abroad and stop covering her legal fees. The measures came in response to the Knesset member's participation in the Gaza-bound flotilla in May of last year, and her trip to Libya.,7340,L-4085918,00.html

Racism / Discrimination

TA kindergarten to reject migrant kids
Ynet 23 June -- A new kindergarten in Hatikva neighborhood in Tel Aviv has declared that it will have at least one classroom that will not accept foreign workers' children, municipality sources said. The move is unprecedented in Israel. Residents were pleased, as was Gal Sharabi, chairman of the neighborhood committee.,7340,L-4086242,00.html

Israel policy myth #2: Separation between Arabs and Jews is not racist / Roi Maor

972mag 23 June -- ...Outright racism against Palestinians and Arabs is quite common and widespread in Israel, and it goes beyond animosity generated by the century-long conflict between the two groups. Three-quarters of Israeli Jewish high school students believe that Arabs are not cultured, uneducated, unclean and violent. 69 percent believe they are not smart. Sadly, these beliefs are at least tolerated by the Israeli Jewish establishment. Racist comments by public officials may be condemned by prominent figures, but the racists remain on the state payroll. These attitudes have not resulted in separate lunch counters or water fountains ... Nonetheless, Palestinians and Jews in the territories under Israel’s control live largely separate lives, this separation is maintained through official polices, it is invariably discriminatory towards Palestinians (usually grossly so) and in many cases, feeble excuses notwithstanding, their motivation and intent is clearly racist.

Jerusalem mayor's choice of woman deputy could mean clash with Orthodox coalition

Haaretz 22 June -- ...Over the last few days, the threats and counter-threats being hurled by both sides have been escalating. According to city council members, Barkat said he would fire any existing deputy mayor who votes against the appointment. The Haredim, for their part, have threatened to dismantle the municipal coalition.

International abduction

Wife of kidnapped Palestinian sues Ukrainian president

KIEV (MEO) 23 June -- The wife of a Palestinian who mysteriously vanished from a Ukrainian night train and resurfaced in an Israeli jail has begun legal action against the Ukrainian president, her lawyer said Thursday. Veronika Abu Sisi filed a suit at a Kiev court on Wednesday accusing President Viktor Yanukovych of inaction in the case of her husband, Gazan engineer Dirar Abu Sisi, who is accused of terrorism in Israel, her lawyer said

Political / Diplomatic / International news

Israel PM agrees to return to 1967 borders
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 June -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly agreed to peace talks based on 1967 borders on the condition that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and solve the Palestinian refugee issue outside of Israel's borders, Israeli daily Maariv reported today. Netanyahu announced the position to US presidential Middle East adviser Dennis Ross, and acting envoy for the Middle East David Hale, both of whom Netanyahu met with last week, the Israeli paper said.

Israel surveys support for Palestinian state

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 June -- Israel's foreign ministry estimates under two-thirds of UN member states will recognize a Palestinian state declared in September, and is launching a campaign to keep the number down, Israel Radio reported Thursday. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed his department to survey the 192 countries in the United Nations, and send Israeli parliamentarians to nations who are yet undecided, the broadcast noted. The study said 118 nations would support the bid. On Wednesday, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon denied that there was any Israeli move to undermine Palestinian diplomatic efforts to gain recognition, in an interview with Ma'an television. However, Ayalon told Israel Radio on Wednesday that trends of mass diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state had been stemmed.

Ashton: Lieberman not able to undo Oslo Accords

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 June -- EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said Israel's foreign minister could not undo the Oslo Accords in response to a Palestinian statehood bid at the UN, in an interview with Israeli daily Haaretz published Thursday. "I'm not sure that it's up to him to declare that Oslo is void really," Ashton said, adding, "I don't accept that Oslo is void, [if] so, it would be a different world." ... Referring to the Palestinian UN bid for statehood, she mentioned in [the interview] that "it will depend very much on what the resolution says as to how the international community in general, and the EU in particular, votes..."

Palestinians easing demands for settlement freeze

(AP) 23 June -- A senior Palestinian official said the Palestinians [the PA?] are ready to drop their demand for a complete settlement freeze to get peace talks with Israel back on track ... He spoke on condition of anonymity because no final decisions have been made.,7340,L-4086331,00.html

Hamas candidate: Palestine more important than PM

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 June -- Independent lawmaker in the Palestinian Legislative Council Jamal Khudari, told Ma‘an Thursday that he is not seeking a political post and will be the first one to congratulate any Palestinian prime minister chosen by consensus ... "Personification of the Prime Minister issue is a dangerous matter and is rejected and harms the national conciliation" he told Ma‘an.

Fatah: Hamas violating unity deal

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 June -- A Fatah spokesman accused Hamas Thursday of being responsible for the current stall in the unity agreement process, and said the Islamist party's preferred candidate was chosen for "factional reasons." Speaking for Fatah, Ahmad Assaf said the candidate Hamas was supporting for the role of prime minister in the new unity government was "away from the interests of the Palestinian people." ... "Jamal Al-Khudari is from Gaza and part of the Muslim Brotherhood which means he is with Hamas" and not an independent candidate as mandated under the Egyptian brokered deal.

Council of Europe Assembly head: Palestine may be partner

STRASBOURG, France (AFP) 22 June -- The Palestinian National Council could this year gain "partner for democracy" status at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Strasbourg-based body said Wednesday. The assembly's Turkish head, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, speaking as Morocco gained the same status, said he hoped that "during our next session (in October) we shall also be able to grant the Partner for Democracy status to Palestine and that other countries will soon apply". The Council introduced the new status last year to strengthen cooperation with parliaments of non-member states that wish to participate in debates that transcend European borders.

Sha‘ath: Armenia supports Palestinian state

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 June -- Armenia will be supportive to the Palestinian people’s demands of freedom, independence and statehood, says Nabil Sha‘ath, member of Fatah's central committee. In a statement following a three-day visit to Armenia where he met with the Caucasian country’s minister of defense Edward Nalbandian and other officials, Sha‘ath said he discussed the Palestinian plan to gain UN support for statehood.

Sources claim Hezbollah prepared to open front with Israel to relieve pressure on Syrian president

IMEMC 23 June -- Israeli newspapers Haaretz and JPost are claiming that the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah are gearing up for possible action against Israel in the case that Syrian leader Bashar al Assad's position comes under significant threat, according to sources close to the movement.

Other news

Apple pulls '3rd Intifada' app

Ynet 23 June -- Apple Inc announced that it has removed an application called the "The Third Intifada" from its iPads and iPhones App Store. "We removed this app from the App Store because it violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people," an Apple spokesman said in a statement.,7340,L-4086049,00.html

Palestine one goal away from making history

JERUSALEM (WAFA) 23 June -- The Palestinian Olympic Team hosts its Bahraini counterpart Thursday in a first ever World Cup qualifying match on Palestinian land, in Faisal al-Husseini stadium in Jerusalem. The game comes in the second leg qualifications for the 2012 London Olympic cup. The match is a historic one for Palestinians as it is the first to be held in Palestine after its recognition by FIFA as a home state. The Palestinian Olympic team has worked hard to secure a win which would enable it to qualify for the third leg of the Olympic cup.

US Consulate General welcomes Al Kamandjati's 'Orchestra Ramallah' for Jerusalem concert

JERUSALEM (WAFA) 23 June - Forty young musicians from refugee camps, villages, and cities throughout the West Bank traveled to Jerusalem on June 22, 2011, for a special concert performance sponsored by the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem. Al Kamandjati Association’s “Orchestra Ramallah” performed at Al Hakawati Theater in East Jerusalem as a part of its annual Music Days Festival. The youth orchestra consists of young Palestinians whose love of music inspires them to participate in Al Kamandjati’s rigorous after-school and intensive summer musical training program in Ramallah and throughout the West Bank.

'Traitor' sprayed on left-wing activist's car

Ynet 23 June -- Unknown elements vandalized a car belonging to Hadar Alexander, 31, a left wing activist, in Jerusalem on Thursday. The car's windows were smashed, its tires punctured and the word "traitor" was sprayed on the hood.,7340,L-4086466,00.html

Minister Dan Meridor, why are you appealing a bill to include protest activity in the definition of terror?

Haaretz 23 June -- 'We in Israel have created many beautiful things, but one of the most successful systems, in the face of which most of the world stands dumbfounded, is the Israeli judicial system.'

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Advisor to Turkish President: Syrian-Turkish Relations Firm, Solid

Jun 23, 2011
AMMAN, (SANA)-Turkish Presidential Advisor Ersat Hurmuzlu described the Syrian-Turkish relations as firm, solid, and unaffected by events.

In statements recorded during an e-symposium organized by the Paris-based Euro-Arab Center for Studies, Hurmuzlu said Syria represents a historical, strategic, cultural and religious depth to Turkey.
He saw that Turkey does not dictate to others what to do, but is ready to share its experience with them.

''The power of Turkey and part of the region's power, that's why we care that the countries of the region be strong and independent and meet the aspirations of their own peoples,'' said Hurmuzlu.
M. Ismael

In case you missed it: The Turkish limited intervention plan

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Sayyed Nasrallah Confirms: Three Spying Cases within Hezbollah

Local Editor

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah declared on Friday that two Hezbollah members have confessed to have links with the US Central Intelligence Agency. His eminence also said the group was investigating whether a third member of the party had been recruited by the CIA, Israel's Mossad or the intelligence service of a European country.

While noting that the discovery of the three cases constitutes a victory for the Resistance in the face of the most powerful intelligence agency in the world, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that the three mentioned Hezbollah members had no relation at all with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, as some media outlets claimed.
Sayyed Nasrallah was delivering a speech through a large TV screen, broadcast live on Al-Manar Television.


“When the Israeli enemy failed to infiltrate Hezbollah, it turned to the most powerful intelligence agency,” Hezbollah Secretary General said. “What we have today is not a case of spying for the Israeli enemy as been rumored recently,” his eminence insisted.
“Our investigation has found that... intelligence officers (in the CIA) have recruited two of our members separately, whom we shall not name out of respect for the privacy of their families,” Sayyed Nasrallah pointed out.
While emphasizing that two separated cases had been detected having relations with diplomats in the US embassy in Beirut, his eminence said this discovery was a proof that the US Embassy turned to be the center of espionage.
According to Sayyed Nasrallah, the first case - A.B. - had been recruited since five months by a CIA officer, while the second - M.H. - had been recruited before the first. Both of them confessed to their relations with the CIA after being detected, his eminence said.
While noting that the third - M.A. - had confessed to his security links to a foreign body, Sayyed Nasrallah said the group was still investigating whether he had been recruited by the CIA, Israel's Mossad or the intelligence service of a European country.


Hezbollah Secretary General stressed that these three cases were the only ones within Hezbollah. “If there are more, we have the full courage to admit it,” Sayyed Nasrallah said. “Be confident we have the courage to tell the truth, even if bitter.”
Sayyed Nasrallah confirmed, meanwhile, that none of the three cases is of the first-rank leadership, contrary to the circulated rumors. His eminence added that they also don’t include any cleric, contrary to the rumors. “Some were confused about an arrested cleric; however, everybody knows he has nothing to do with Hezbollah,” his eminence went on to say.


His eminence also said that none of the cases belongs to the persons closed to the Secretary General. None of these case has to do with the front or the sensitive military units, about which the US and Israel are seeking for collecting information, his eminence added.
Sayyed Nasrallah also reassured the Resistance supporters that none of the cases has sensitive data which could harm the security and military structure of the resistance, as well as its ability of confrontation in any war. His eminence also declared that the three accused have nothing to do with the assassination of the martyr leader Hajj Imad Moghniyeh.

Hezbollah Secretary General also denied rumors that talking about those cases was aimed at reaching to a solution on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. “The three accused have nothing to do with the STL,” his eminence pointed out. “We settled the STL issue since long. The three cases hadn't been mentioned in any report concerning the STL.”


Hezbollah Secretary General, who was speaking for the first time since the formation of the new government, congratulated Lebanese for this development. His eminence said that the government was purely Lebanese, and stressed that it was formed without any foreign intervention.

Sayyed Nasrallah said that those who oppose the formation of cabinet behave according to their hatred. While recalling that he has called to give Saad Hariri’s government a one-year grace period, Sayyed Nasrallah remarked that the new opposition refused to give the new government, headed by Najib Miqati, a grace period of only one week.

His eminence rejected the claims made by the opposition that the new government was a one-color cabinet. “March 14 bet was that new majority won't be able to form the new cabinet,” Sayyed Nasrallah said. His eminence also denied rumors that the cabinet was in fact Hezbollah government. “Attributing government formation to Hezbollah grants us a political privilege. However, it is untrue,” his eminence added. “Our cabinet is constituted of counterbalanced political parties. Hezbollah has only two ministers in the new cabinet; yet, we greatly respect all other ministers.”


Sayyed Nasrallah renewed calls to avoid sectarian incitement for being a double-edged sword. His eminence also warned the new opposition against betting on the West, and said that this strategy will fail just like it failed in the past. “You have always lived on foreign bets,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, addressing the new opposition. However, his eminence vowed these bets will fail just like they had always failed.
His eminence expressed belief that the new government’s policy statement will be done without obstacles, due to mutual trust amongst ministers. “God willing, the policy statement will be completed and the cabinet will have confidence.”
Sayyed Nasrallah also said that the priority for the cabinet should be to work hard. His eminence called upon all ministers to cooperate, join hands and do their best to serve the country and the people of Lebanon. “We should solve the current issues without being dragged to debates, in which they aim at exhausting us,” his eminence added.
Before ending with the government’s issue, Sayyed Nasrallah saluted Speaker Nabih Berri’s original step, at both the national and Shiite levels, and noted that this step gave the full opportunity for the cabinet's formation. “We will work hard and cooperate with the President, Premier and the ministers to have a successful and useful government which serves our people.”


Addressing the recent Israeli drills, entitled Turning Point 5, Sayyed Nasrallah said that they marked a strategic turning point that started within the Zionist entity following the July 2006 war against Lebanon.
Sayyed Nasrallah recalled that all security and military drills carried out by the enemy are the result of its resounding defeat and the Resistance's victory in July war 2006.
According to Sayyed Nasrallah, "Turning Point 5" is also a decisive Israeli admission that Home Front has become a part of any future war. “This also makes Israel thinks one thousand times before taking any war decision in the future,” his eminence said.

Hezbollah Secretary General, meanwhile, said that "Turning Point 5" is an Israeli admission that its human, military, economic and geographic depth is now threatened and cannot be protected. “The Israeli enemy has therefore perceived that it lost the ability to militarily protect the Home Font and that it is obliged to set plans and scenarios,” his eminence said.

Sayyed Nasrallah also confirmed that "Turning Point 5" is an Israeli admission that Israelis have no capability for fast decisiveness, which signals a strategic modification in the Israeli structure. “The Israeli enemy acknowledges that it is not able anymore to settle the battle within days or even weeks and is speaking of scenarios and procedures to protect the front in a war that could last for many months.”

Sayyed Nasrallah said that "Turning Point 5" definitely determined those considered enemies by Israel. “Israel is frankly speaking of four enemies which are Iran, Syria, the Resistance in Lebanon and the Resistance in Gaza,” his eminence remarked.
While noting that "Turning Point 5" shows that "Israel" aims at defending and protection, Sayyed Nasrallah warned that this was only part of the truth. “Israel is of an aggressive and offensive nature and has a predominance project in the region. Therefore, we all should be vigilant, alert and alarmed.”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian