Thursday, December 30, 2010

Abu Yazan – The 27th of December,
a day I will never forget

I feel like sharing my story with my friends to show how much terror Israel has brought to us….

That day I was walking in the street with a friend of mine in the middle of Gaza City…we were laughing at some jokes he was saying…and all of the sudden we heard the roaring of the Israeli F16s…It is normal in Gaza to hear such things, so we did not pay much attention to that, we kept moving with our jokes….Then with a glance, an explosion happened in a police station that was around 150 meters away from us.. We went running to the place when another explosion took place followed by a third, then a fourth, a fifth, we didn’t know what was happening but we didn’t hesitate to keep on going to the first place bombed…We had our hands over our ears because the explosions never ended, it was very loud to the limit you think that you are the one being hit with those rockets.

When we arrived at the police station, this is exactly what we saw.. On the door there were two officers lying on the ground injured, when I told the man, “I am going to save you just hang on,” he said, “leave me and get inside”.. I didn’t know what was happening inside, so I went with my friend and with 15 other people following us…We found over 40 bodies lying on the ground dead and about 250 others were injured, most of them had bad injuries…

We left the dead and started to take the survivors out of the place fearing that the Israeli F16s would bomb the place for another time… Most of the survivors were in bad shape, while I was carrying the people, I reached to a person who was badly injured but he looked like he was dead to me, his body was all burned.. he was saying, “ashhad an la elah ela allah, ashhad an mohammed rasool allah”…and that’s what made me notice that he was alive…I just moved towards him and in a hurry tried to take him out of the place, I grabbed him by the hand but the problem was that his hand was not part of his body anymore…I tried from his leg and the same thing happened, his leg just slipped out of his body, so I was there looking at him and knowing that he has no hope. “What shall I do?!” I was saying in a loud voice, I didn’t know how to carry him because each part of his body was a piece and I had to take him out of that place…I had three other people coming towards me and shouting very loud, “lets get him out of here quick,” and that’s what we did…

After like fifteen minutes we took all the survivors and the bodies out of the place, we all left, and after 5 minutes…the Israeli airplanes just hit the place again…we all were praying that we don’t get hit while we were inside… I moved to the hospital with the last ambulance to see what was happening and believe me what I saw was really disgusting and awful… Bodies all lying on the ground… the white suit of all the doctors turned out to red as if they are working in a grocery… This is the day where I decided to work and tell the world about Palestine and about the crimes Israel commits against Palestinians…

And every Palestinian has his own story, because no one stayed at home that day…everyone wanted to take a role in rescuing the injured. Source

Two Years After Gaza War, Gaza Remains Sealed-Off, Suffering Continues

Two years after Operation Cast Lead: Gaza Remains Sealed-Off from outside World, Impunity for War Crimes Prevails
Ahmed Zourob receives dialysis treatment at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Because of the siege, his level of treatment is inadequate and he can no longer obtain the medication he needs (PCHR)

PCHR Report on Gaza War, Monday, 27 December 2010 11:30

December 27, 2010, marks the two-year anniversary of the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 23 day offensive on the Gaza Strip. This offensive – the single most brutal event in the history of the occupation – was characterised by systematic violations of international law. Its aftermath has been characterised by pervasive impunity.

In total, 1,419 Palestinians were killed. 83% of the dead – the overwhelming majority – were civilians, the so-called ‘protected persons’ of international humanitarian law. A further 5,300 were injured, and public and private property throughout the Gaza Strip was extensively targeted and destroyed.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) notes that in the two years since the offensive there have been no concrete steps taken towards the fulfilment of victims’ legitimate rights to the equal protection of the law and an effective judicial remedy. Customary international law and the treaty-based obligations which all States have entered into are unequivocal: if a war crime has been committed, those responsible must be investigated and prosecuted in accordance with international standards. They must be held to account.

Numerous reports of international and national human rights organisations – including those of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (the ‘Goldstone Report’), the Independent Fact-Finding Mission mandated by the Arab League, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – concluded that war crimes were committed in the Gaza Strip, and noted that criminal accountability must be the legal consequence.

The Goldstone Report detailed explicit mechanisms to ensure such criminal accountability. As required by customary international law, genuine domestic investigations must be initiated. After six months, if these investigations failed to comply with international standards, the Security Council – acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter – must refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.

It is now two years since the offensive, and no effective domestic investigations or prosecutions have been initiated.

As PCHR has documented, Israel has systematically failed to ensure accountability. In the two years since Operation Cast Lead, the actions of the Israeli authorities have been characterised by a desire to shield those responsible from justice. Only three soldiers have been convicted of committing offensive-related crimes. One soldier was sentenced to seven-months in jail for the theft of a credit card. Two other soldiers were convicted of using a 9 year old boy as a human shield. They were given a 3 month suspended sentence.

This is an insult to victims and to the universal rule of law.

The international community’s response has been silence; through inaction they have implicitly endorsed Israel’s actions during Operation Cast Lead and the impunity that has followed. They have implicitly endorsed the systematic and widespread commission of international crimes.

The rule of law, and victims’ rights, have been sacrificed in the name of politics.

This situation must not be allowed to prevail.

The consequences of impunity are evident in the continuing and escalating violations of international law committed in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The consequences of impunity are evident in the fact that the entire Gaza Strip continues to be subject to an illegal closure. For over 3.5 years, 1.7 million people have been collectively punished and cut off from the outside world. Impunity, and the international community’s failure to prevent this ongoing crime, has resulted in the distinct possibility that the closure will become institutionalised, and effectively endorsed by the United Nations and the international community.

The consequences of impunity are evident in the expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank; in the continued construction of the Wall; and in the house demolitions and evictions carried out in occupied East Jerusalem.

Equally, the consequences of sacrificing the rule of international law in the name of ‘political progress’ are evident in the abject failure of the Oslo process.

It is imperative that the international community fulfil its legal obligations, and ensure respect for international law. Those suspected of committing international crimes must be investigated and prosecuted. Israel must be held responsible for its internationally wrongful acts.

Impunity serves only to encourage continued violations of international law. Without accountability, how can the civilians of the Gaza Strip feel safe again?

British secret file confirms israeli nukes

A newly released British document confirms that Israel has possessed nuclear weapons for more than three decades.

Secret files released by Britain's National Archives said on Wednesday that British officials feared Tel Aviv would use its nuclear weapons in case of another war with Arab countries in the region.

Israel, which is considered as the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, has never confirmed or denied that it has produced nuclear warheads. It has also refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has also adamantly rejected international inspection of its nuclear facilities.

Former US President Jimmy Carter acknowledged for the first time in May 2008 that Tel Aviv has 150 nuclear warheads in its arsenals.

In 1986, Israeli nuclear technician, Mordechai Vanunu, leaked the news that Israel had between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons.

Vanunu was a former worker at the country's Dimona nuclear reactor in the Negev desert.

In May 2010, the UK's Guardian newspaper said secret South African documents reveal that in 1975, Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the then-apartheid regime in South Africa.

According to documents obtained by the newspaper, a secret meeting between the then-Israeli defense minister, Shimon Peres, and his South African counterpart, P.W. Botha, ended with an offer for the sale of warheads “in three sizes.”

The Guardian claimed that those “sizes” referred to conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.

Israel has initiated several wars in the region in its 60-year-old history of occupation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

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israel's genocidal aggression on Gaza revisited

By Khalid Amayreh

The Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip two years ago, which lasted for three weeks, was pornographically criminal and graphically genocidal. Israel knowingly and deliberately targeted innocent civilians, including children, using state-of-the-art machines of death.

Entire families were simply exterminated at the pretext that a member was involved with the resistance. Homes, hospitals, mosques and other public buildings were obliterated. Even terrified and thoroughly terrorized people raising white banners were mercilessly riddled with bullets.

The sheer criminality of the Israeli army gave the impression that Israeli soldiers were probably trying to mimic Old Testament savagery by murdering men, women, and children, and by destroying and annihilating all that breathe!!

The genocidal onslaught on Gaza is sufficient to render Israel an illegitimate state. No state under the sun, Jewish or otherwise, should behave in such a nefarious manner and remain legitimate.

Don't mention the holocaust. In the final analysis, since when did Israel have the right to utilize one holocaust in order to commit another? Or use it as red herring to divert attention from its genocidal atrocities against its victims?

To cover her crimes against humanity, Israel used her effective lying machine to the fullest. It claimed that Israel was coming under attack from Gaza and that it was merely exercising self-defense.

Such a claim, coming from a country that is based on mass murder, ethnic cleansing and land theft, is very much analogous to an imagined claim by the Third Reich that it was forced to deal stringently with Jews because SS soldiers had been coming under attack from Jewish resistance fighters at Ghetto Warsaw.

I am making this comparison because as soon as Israel ostensibly left Gaza in 2005, it imposed a hermetically tight blockade on the coastal enclave, turning it into the largest open- air prison in the world. Gazans were tormented and savaged and starved in manners unseen since Ghetto Warsaw, or probably the great Ukrainian starvation under Stalin.

Israel simply wanted Gazans to die unwept and as quietly as possible. However, when Gazans found out that they had nothing to lose; they decided to die standing on their feet, rather than walking meekly to the Israeli slaughterhouse.

Israel rained death on Gaza for 21 consecutive days, hoping to get the people of Gaza to crawl on their hands and feet, begging for mercy from an army that combined all the elements of barbarianism and brutality of the Wehrmacht, Gestapo and SS combined.

However, much of the so-called international community kept up looking on as Gaza was being killed and raped as if these abominations were occurring on a distant planet.

There is no doubt the pornographic apathy with which the so-called civilized world related to the shameful Israeli aggression in Gaza two years ago represented an all-time low in the world's morality.

What else can be said of powerful states, some of which are considered cornerstones of the international system, which related to the attempted lynching of nearly 2 million Gazans by merely saying that "Israel has the right to defend itself."!! What kind of fornication with language is this, coming from the President of the most powerful nation on earth?

To be sure, moral depravity was by means the lot of an evil empire that allowed itself to be transformed into a big whore by Israel and her supporters. Many other countries betrayed and continued to betray Gaza, including countries that shamelessly claim to be Arab and Islamic.

Unfortunately, the passage of two years since the clouds of death were hovering over Gaza has not brought any solace. The brutal ugliness of a manifestly fascist Israel is as conspicuous as ever. And Israel continues to gang up on Gaza, barring the victims of the 2008-2009 aggression from rebuilding their homes by preventing building materials from getting through into Gaza.

It is true that the overall humanitarian situation in Gaza is slightly better in comparison to what it was two years ago. However, it is also true that whatever improvement there has been is not a result of Israeli magnanimity but rather a cynical attempt to enhance her tarnished image.

This is why the free-minded people of the world must stay focused on Gaza lest Israel decides to reactivate her genocidal instincts and gang up on Gaza's children again.

We must not allow ourselves to forget the cardinal fact that the murder of Palestinian children has always been a well-guarded Zionist tradition. Unfortunately, there is no evidence whatsoever suggesting that the Zionist entity is about to forgo this evil but intrinsic tradition which for most Zionists constitutes a way of life.

Youth groups paint murals in to mark Gaza war

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Two youth groups in Gaza marked the second anniversary of Israel's war on the Strip by painting murals on the walls of the destroyed government compound in Gaza City.

The Cultural Club and Free Spectrum organized the activity, commemorating the 22-day offensive which left more than 1,400 dead and injured over 5,000.

Israeli airstrikes targeted the compound of ministerial buildings several times during the war.

Free Spectrum coordinator Mohammad Al-Herbawi said the painting expressed Palestinians' demand "to live in dignity and freedom like other nations around the globe. We are asking all the free people around the world to stand by our people until they gain their freedom."

Al-Herbawi called on Palestinian leaders to unify, and to end the national division, which he said encouraged Israel to commit more crimes against unarmed Palestinians.

Many murals were painted, depicting scenes of Palestinian suffering, and condemning the war and Israel's siege of the coastal enclave.

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israeli secret report on inhumane conditions of detainees disclosed

GAZA, (PIC)-- Haaretz newspaper published a confidential report prepared by the Israeli association of jurists revealing the tragic and inhumane incarceration conditions which the Palestinian prisoners imprisoned in solitary cells are living in.

The report pointed out that hundreds of Palestinian detainees were locked up over the past years in solitary confinement and most of them were leaders of prisoners.

The Israeli activists who made the report worked as official inspectors sent by the association of jurists to visit Israeli prisons and meet with Palestinian detainees.

According to the report the isolation cells in all Israeli prisons, especially in Ayalon and Shikma jails, are like the cells of dungeons, small, infested with insects, smelly, cold, without windows and totally unsuitable for humans.

The report pointed out that the isolation of detainees from other prisoners in solitary for a long period of time has psychological effects on them and many of them develop mental problems inside these cells.

In another incident, the same newspaper said that about 90 percent of Palestinian prisoners being interrogated by the Shin Bet security apparatus are prevented from consulting with an attorney, according to a report published by the public committee against torture in Israel and the Palestinian prisoners' society.

The Shin Bet refused in the past to provide data on the numbers of prisoners who are prevented from meeting with a lawyer, but Haaretz quoted the Shin Bet as saying that it has legal clearance to keep certain detainees from lawyers.

According to this report, during prolonged periods when prisoners are kept from meeting with lawyers, the Shin Bet utilizes interrogation methods that run contrary to international law, Israeli laws and Israeli commitments to avoid such methods.

Among these interrogation methods are tying prisoners for a long time to a chair with their hands behind the back, sleep deprivation, threats usually of harming family members, humiliation and being kept for long periods in unsanitary cells.

The report said that the numbers of those whose right to an attorney was blocked between 2000 and 2007 ranged between 8, 379 to 10, 773 detainees.

  Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Two Years after the Massacre: A Letter from Gaza

By Various Authors - Gaza, Palestine

We the Palestinians of the besieged Gaza Strip, on this day, two years on from Israel's genocidal attack on our families, our houses, our roads, our factories and our schools, are saying enough inaction, enough discussion, enough waiting – the time is now to hold Israel to account for its ongoing crimes against us. On the 27th of December 2008, Israel began an indiscriminate bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The assault lasted 22 days, killing 1,417 Palestinians, 352 of them children, according to main-stream Human Rights Organizations. For a staggering 528 hours, Israeli Occupation Forces let loose their US-supplied F15s, F16s, Merkava Tanks, internationally prohibited White Phosphorous, and bombed and invaded the small Palestinian coastal enclave that is home to 1.5 million, of whom 800,000 are children and over 80 percent UN registered refugees. Around 5,300 remain permanently wounded.

This devastation exceeded in savagery all previous massacres suffered in Gaza, such as the 21 children killed in Jabalia in March 2008 or the 19 civilians killed sheltering in their house in the Beit Hanoun Massacre of 2006. The carnage even exceeded the attacks in November 1956 in which Israeli troops indiscriminately rounded up and killed 275 Palestinians in the Southern town of Khan Younis and 111 more in Rafah.

Since the Gaza massacre of 2009, world citizens have undertaken the responsibility to pressure Israel to comply with international law, through a proven strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions. As in the global BDS movement that was so effective in ending the apartheid South African regime, we urge people of conscience to join the BDS call made by over 170 Palestinian organizations in 2005. As in South Africa the imbalance of power and representation in this struggle can be counterbalanced by a powerful international solidarity movement with BDS at the forefront, holding Israeli policy makers to account, something the international governing community has repeatedly failed to do. Similarly, creative civilian efforts such as the Free Gaza boats that broke the siege five times, the Gaza Freedom March, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and the many land convoys must never stop their siege-breaking, highlighting the inhumanity of keeping 1.5 million Gazans in an open-air prison.

Two years have now passed since Israel’s gravest of genocidal acts that should have left people in no doubt of the brutal extent of Israel’s plans for the Palestinians. The murderous navy assault on international activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea magnified to the world the cheapness Israel has assigned to Palestinian life for so long. The world knows now, yet two years on nothing has changed for Palestinians.

The Goldstone Report came and went: despite its listing count after count of international law contraventions, Israeli “war crimes” and “possible crimes against humanity,” the European Union, the United Nations, the Red Cross, and all major Human Rights Organizations have called for an end to the illegal, medieval siege, it carries on unabated. On 11th November 2010 UNRWA head John Ging said, “There's been no material change for the people on the ground here in terms of their status, the aid dependency, the absence of any recovery or reconstruction, no economy…The easing, as it was described, has been nothing more than a political easing of the pressure on Israel and Egypt.”

On the 2nd of December, 22 international organizations including Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, and Medical Aid for Palestinians produced the report ‘Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade’ calling for international action to force Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade, saying the Palestinians of Gaza under Israeli siege continue to live in the same devastating conditions. Only a week ago Human Rights Watch published a comprehensive report "Separate and Unequal" that denounced Israeli policies as Apartheid, echoing similar sentiments by South African anti-apartheid activists.

We Palestinians of Gaza want to live at liberty to meet Palestinian friends or family from Tulkarem, Jerusalem or Nazareth; we want to have the right to travel and move freely. We want to live without fear of another bombing campaign that leaves hundreds of our children dead and many more injured or with cancers from the contamination of Israel’s white phosphorous and chemical warfare. We want to live without the humiliations at Israeli checkpoints or the indignity of not providing for our families because of the unemployment brought about by the economic control and the illegal siege. We are calling for an end to the racism that underpins all this oppression.

We ask: when will the world’s countries act according to the basic premise that people should be treated equally, regardless of their origin, ethnicity or colour – is it so far-fetched that a Palestinian child deserves the same human rights as any other human being? Will you be able to look back and say you stood on the right side of history or will you have sided with the oppressor?

We, therefore, call on the international community to take up its responsibility to protect the Palestinian people from Israel’s heinous aggression, immediately ending the siege with full compensation for the destruction of life and infrastructure visited upon us by this explicit policy of collective punishment. Nothing whatsoever justifies the intentional policies of savagery, including the severing of access to the water and electricity supply to 1.5 million people. The international conspiracy of silence towards the genocidal war taking place against the more than 1.5 million civilians in Gaza indicates complicity in these war crimes.

We also call upon all Palestine solidarity groups and all international civil society organizations to demand:

- An end to the siege that has been imposed on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of their exercise of democratic choice.

- The protection of civilian lives and property, as stipulated in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law such as The Fourth Geneva Convention.

- The immediate release of all political prisoners.

- That Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip be immediately provided with financial and material support to cope with the immense hardship that they are experiencing.

- An end to occupation, Apartheid and other war crimes.

- Immediate reparations and compensation for all destruction carried out by the Israeli Occupation Forces in the Gaza Strip.

- Boycott Divest and Sanction, join the many International Trade Unions, Universities, Supermarkets and artists and writers who refuse to entertain Apartheid Israel. Speak out for Palestine, for Gaza, and crucially ACT. The time is now.


General Union for Public Services Workers
General Union for Health Services Workers
University Teachers' Association
Palestinian Congregation for Lawyers
General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers
General Union for Agricultural Workers
Union of Women’s Work Committees
Union of Synergies—Women Unit
The One Democratic State Group
Arab Cultural Forum
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
Association of Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Info
Palestine Sailing Federation
Palestinian Association for Fishing and Maritime
Palestinian Network of Non-Governmental Organizations
Palestinian Women Committees
Progressive Students’ Union
Medical Relief Society
The General Society for Rehabilitation
General Union of Palestinian Women
Afaq Jadeeda Cultural Centre for Women and Children
Deir Al-Balah Cultural Centre for Women and Children
Maghazi Cultural Centre for Children
Al-Sahel Centre for Women and Youth
Ghassan Kanfani Kindergartens
Rachel Corrie Centre, Rafah
Rafah Olympia City Sisters
Al Awda Centre, Rafah
Al Awda Hospital, Jabaliya Camp
Ajyal Association, Gaza
General Union of Palestinian Syndicates
Al Karmel Centre, Nuseirat
Local Initiative, Beit Hanoun
Union of Health Work Committees
Red Crescent Society Gaza Strip
Beit Lahiya Cultural Centre
Al Awda Centre, Rafah

israel warlike on wartime anniversary

israeli military chief, speaking on the anniversary of Israel's deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip, says his forces are ready for a new war on the besieged enclave.

Israeli Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi said on Monday in Tel Aviv, "We see the Hamas as responsible for the situation in Gaza and we take him (Hamas) as accountable for that. We don't want to escalate the situation but we will be ready for any development," the Associated Press reported.

The comments came in apparent reference to home-made projectiles, reportedly flown from Gaza, which are seldom known to have caused any casualties or considerable damage to Israeli properties.

Under the pretext of responding to the rocket attacks, Israel's military launches regular disproportionate attacks on Gaza, not refraining from inflicting human or material losses.

On Sunday, Israeli troops killed two Palestinians in the east of the southern city of Khan Younis in the strip, AFP reported. Earlier in the month, at least five people were killed by an Israeli aerial assault on the town of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza.

Ashkenazi said earlier in December that "the next round (of fighting) will be extensive," Israeli website Ynetnews had reported.

The December 2008-January 2009 operations killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, inflicting a damage of above $1.6 billion on the coastal sliver's economy.

The war either destroyed or badly damaged thousands of homes in Gaza, putting the enclave on a long road to recovery amid a strict siege, which has been in place since mid-June 2007.

The United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict has found Tel Aviv guilty of committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the deadly operation.

The report by the UN mission blamed Israel for deliberate targeting of civilians and using white phosphorus bombs in residential areas, notably on the UN Relief and Works Agency compound in the Gaza City as well as two Gaza-based hospitals.


  Monday, December 27, 2010

Jesus is Palestinian and why it matters

by Jehanzeb Dar

Because of modern alarmist reactions to the word “Palestine,” many non-Arabs and non-Muslims take offense when it is argued that Jesus was a Palestinian (peace be upon him).

Jesus’ ethnicity, skin color, and culture often accompany this conversation, but few people are willing to acknowledge the fact he was non-European. A simple stroll down the Christmas aisle will show you the dominant depiction of Jesus: a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white man.

Islamophobia and anti-Arab propaganda have conditioned us to view Palestinians as nothing but heartless suicide bombers, “terrorists,” and “enemies of freedom and democracy.” Perpetual media vilification and demonization of Palestinians, in contrast to the glorification of Israel, obstructs us from seeing serious issues such as the Palestinian refugee crisis, the victims of Israel’s atrocious three-week assault on Gaza during the winter of 2008-2009, the tens of thousands of homeless Palestinians, and many other struggles that are constantly addressed by human rights activists around the world.

To speak from the perspective of the Palestinians, especially in casual non-Arab and non-Muslim settings, generates controversy because of the alignment between Palestinians and violent stereotypes. So, how could Jesus belong to a group of people that we’re taught to dehumanize?

When I’ve spoken to people about this, I’ve noticed the following responses: “No, Jesus was a Jew,” or “Jesus is not Muslim.” The mistake isn’t a surprise to me, but it certainly is revealing. Being a Palestinian does not mean one is Muslim or vice versa. Prior to the brutal and unjust dispossession of indigenous Palestinians during the creation of the state of Israel, the word “Palestine” was a geographic term applied to Palestinian Muslims, Palestinian Christians, and Palestinian Jews. Although most Palestinians are Muslim today, there is a significant Palestinian Christian minority who are often overlooked, especially by the mainstream Western media.

That dominant narrative not only distorts and misrepresents the Palestinian struggle as a religious conflict between “Muslims and Jews,” but consequentially pushes the lives of Palestinian Christians into “non-existence.” That is, due to the media's reluctance to report the experiences and stories of Palestinian Christians, it isn’t a surprise when white Americans are astonished by the fact that Palestinian and Arab Christians do, in fact, exist. One could argue that the very existence of Palestinian Christians is threatening, as it disrupts the sweeping and overly-simplistic “Muslim vs. Jew” Zionist narrative. To learn about many Palestinian Christians opposing Israeli military occupation, as well as Jews who oppose the occupation, is to reveal more voices, perspectives, and complexities to a conflict that has been immensely portrayed as one-sided, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Muslim.

Yeshua (Jesus’ real Aramaic name) was born in Bethlehem, a Palestinian city in the West Bank and home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. The Church of the Nativity, one of the oldest churches in the world, marks the birthplace of Jesus and is sacred to both Christians and Muslims. While tourists from the around the world visit the site, they are subject to Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks. The Israeli construction of the West Bank barrier also severely restricts travel for local Palestinians. In April of 2010, Israeli authorities barred Palestinian Christians from entering Jerusalem and visiting the Church of Holy Sepulchre during Easter. Yosef Zabaneh, a Palestinian Christian merchant in Ramallah, said: “The Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank doesn't distinguish between us, but treats all Palestinians with contempt.”

Zabaneh’s comments allude to the persistent dehumanization of Palestinians, as well as the erasure of Palestinians, both Christians and Muslims. By constantly casting Palestinians as the villains, even the term “Palestine” becomes “evil.” There is refusal to recognize, for example, that the word “Palestine” was used as early as the 5th century BCE by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus. John Bimson, author of “The Compact Handbook of Old Testament Life,” acknowledges the objection to the use of “Palestine”:

The term ‘Palestine’ is derived from the Philistines. In the fifth century BC the Greek historian Herodotus seems to have used the term Palaistine Syria (= Philistine Syria) to refer to the whole region between Phoenicia and the Lebanon mountains in the north and Egypt in the south… Today the name “Palestine” has political overtones which many find objectionable, and for that reason some writers deliberately avoid using it. However, the alternatives are either too clumsy to be used repeatedly or else they are inaccurate when applied to certain periods, so “Palestine” remains a useful term…

Deliberately avoiding the use of the name “Palestine” not only misrepresents history, but also reinforces anti-Palestinian racism as acceptable. When one examines the argument against Jesus being a Palestinian, one detects a remarkable amount of hostility aimed at both Palestinians and Muslims. One cannot help but wonder, is there something threatening about identifying Jesus as a Palestinian? Professor Jack D. Forbes writes about Jesus’ multi-cultural and multi-ethnic environment:

When the Romans came to dominate the area, they used the name Palestine. Thus, when Yehoshu'a [Jesus] was born, he was born a Palestinian as were all of the inhabitants of the region, Jews and non-Jews. He was also a Nazarene (being born in Nazareth) and a Galilean (born in the region of Galilee)… At the time of Yehoshu'a's birth, Palestine was inhabited by Jews-descendants of Hebrews, Canaanites, and many other Semitic peoples-and also by Phoenicians, Syrians, Greeks, and even Arabs.

Despite these facts, there are those who use the color-blind argument: “It does not matter what Jesus’ ethnicity or skin color was. It does not matter what language he spoke. Jesus is for all people, whether you’re black, white, brown, yellow, etc.” While this is a well-intentioned expression of inclusiveness and universalism, it misses the point.

When we see so many depictions of Jesus as a Euro-American white man, the ethnocentrism and race-bending needs to be called out. In respect to language, for instance, Neil Douglas-Klotz, author of “The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus,” emphasizes the importance of understanding that Jesus spoke Aramaic, not English, and that his words, as well as his worldview, must be understood in light of Middle Eastern language and spirituality. Douglas-Klotz provides an interesting example which reminds me of the rich depth and meaning of Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi words, especially the word for “spirit”:

Whenever a saying of Jesus refers to spirit, we must remember that he would have used an Aramaic or Hebrew word. In both of these languages, the same word stands for spirit, breath, air, and wind. So ‘Holy Spirit’ must also be ‘Holy Breath.’ The duality between spirit and body, which we often take for granted in our Western languages falls away. If Jesus made the famous statement about speaking or sinning against the Holy Spirit (for instance, in Luke 12:10), then somehow the Middle Eastern concept of breath is also involved.

Certainly, no person is superior to another based on culture, language, or skin color, but to ignore the way Jesus’ whiteness has been used to subjugate and discriminate against racial minorities in the West and many other countries is to overlook another important aspect of Jesus’ teachings: Love thy neighbor as thyself. Malcolm X wrote about white supremacists and slave-owners using Christianity to justify their “moral” and “racial superiority” over blacks. In Malcolm’s own words, “The Holy Bible in the White man's hands and its interpretations of it have been the greatest single ideological weapon for enslaving millions of non-white human beings.” Throughout history, whether it was in Jerusalem, Spain, India, Africa, or in the Americas, white so-called “Christians” cultivated a distorted interpretation of religion that was compatible with their racist, colonialist agenda.

And here we are in the 21st century where Islamophobia (also stemming from racism because the religion of Islam gets racialized) is on the rise; where people calling themselves “Christian” fear to have a black president; where members of the KKK and anti-immigration movements behave as if Jesus were an intolerant white American racist who only spoke English despite being born in the Middle East. It is astonishing how so-called “Christians” like Ann Coulter call Muslims “rag-heads” when in actuality, Jesus himself would fit the profile of a “rag-head,” too. As would Moses, Joseph, Abraham, and the rest of the Prophets (peace be upon them all). As William Rivers Pitt writes:

The ugly truth which never even occurs to most Americans is that Jesus looked a lot more like an Iraqi, like an Afghani, like a Palestinian, like an Arab, than any of the paintings which grace the walls of American churches from sea to shining sea. This was an uncomfortable fact before September 11. After the attack, it became almost a moral imperative to put as much distance between Americans and people from the Middle East as possible. Now, to suggest that Jesus shared a genealogical heritage and physical similarity to the people sitting in dog cages down in Guantanamo is to dance along the edge of treason.

Without acknowledging Jesus as a native Middle Eastern person — a Palestinian — who spoke Aramaic — a Semitic language that is ancestral to Arabic and Hebrew — the West will continue to view Islam as a “foreign religion.” Hate crimes and discriminatory acts against Muslims, Arabs, and others who are perceived to be Muslim will persist. They will still be treated as “cultural outsiders.” Interesting enough, Christianity and Judaism are never considered “foreign religions,” despite having Middle Eastern origins, like Islam. As Douglas-Klotz insists, affirming Jesus as a native Middle Eastern person “enables Christians to understand that the mind and message” of Jesus arises from “the same earth as have the traditions of their Jewish and Muslim sisters and brothers.”

Jesus would not prefer one race or group of people over another. I believe he would condemn today’s demonization and dehumanization of the Palestinian people, as well as the misrepresentations of him that only fuel ignorance and ethnocentrism. As a Muslim, I believe Jesus was a prophet of God, and if I were to have any say about the Christmas spirit, it would be based on Jesus’ character: humility, compassion, and Love. A love in which all people, regardless of ethnicity, race, culture, religion, gender, and sexual orientation are respected and appreciated.

And in that spirit, I wish you a merry Christmas. Alaha Natarak (Aramaic: God be with you).

The author blogs at Muslim Reverie. He recently wrote a chapter in "Teaching Against Islamophobia" on the demonization of Muslims and Arabs in mainstream American comics.

List of Palestinian Localities destroyed after the (1948) creation of "israel"

Written by an atheist^

  Sunday, December 26, 2010

Meet the Oppressed - The People of the Year in the Middle East

By RANNIE AMIRI, CounterPunch

The 2010 Middle East People of the Year are:

The Palestinians in Gaza, desperate to let the world know that nearly two years after the end of the 2008-2009 war, the cruel embargo on the territory persists; the siege by air, land and sea continues; and the impoverished population is still held captive in their land.

The Bahraini Shia, the island’s indigent and marginalized majority, ruled by the wealthy Sunni al-Khalifa royal family who routinely orders an imported security service to round up and torture democracy and human rights advocates. Excluded from government, the public sector and law enforcement by overt sectarian discrimination, they have risked life and limb to protest their disenfranchised state.

The Egyptians, who have suffocated under a repressive U.S.-backed regime that has governed by Emergency Law for 30 years and stifled the freedom of expression, assembly and press. The inability to replace their parliamentary representatives by a fair ballot this year makes voting a cruel reminder that the “status quo” is the only candidate ever up for election.

The Iraqis, who endured seven years of occupation and a few daily hours of electricity under a blistering summer sun as unrelenting as the explosions, bombings and suicide attacks that wracked cities and killed thousands. The simple will to stroll on neighborhood streets, take a trip to the market, drop the children off at school or attend Friday prayers are testaments to bravery that should put Iraqi politicians only interested in retaining power to shame.

The Saudi Ismaili, Shia and Sufi Muslims, harassed, arrested and jailed for practicing their religion or demanding the right to do so. The doors of their mosques have been sealed shut by the Interior Ministry as has the potential for civic and socioeconomic advancement. They are the “apostates” denied basic dignities enjoyed by other citizens.

The Yemenis of Saada governorate, who became the malnourished “internally displaced” refugees caught in the country’s long civil war. Pummeled by Saudi airstrikes to the north and shelled by Yemen’s army from the south, they suffered famine and destruction in a humanitarian catastrophe ignored by the world.

The 2010 Mideast People of the Year? The Oppressed.

Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator.

Egypt building watchtowers near Gaza

Egypt is building surveillance towers along the border with the Gaza Strip as part of its measures to step up restrictions on the besieged coastal enclave.

Egyptian security officials said on Saturday that the first of the steel and concrete towers, measuring almost 100 feet (30.5 meters) in height, near the Rafah Crossing, is almost completed, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the structures were being built to improve the monitoring of movements along the border.

Cairo is also constructing an underground steel wall to disrupt a network of tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, which the Palestinians use to import basic food items and other supplies into the blockaded territory.

Egyptian authorities regularly fill the tunnels with gas or flood them with water and the underground lifelines are frequently bombed by Israeli fighter jets.

The construction of the steel wall and observation towers has caused tension between Egypt and other countries in the region.

In 2009, Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah criticized Egypt over the construction of the underground steel wall, saying it would "terminate the thin veins, which are giving some life and some hope to Gaza."

Israel has imposed a crippling land and sea siege on the Gaza Strip for over three years, pushing the densely-populated coastal sliver, which is home to 1.5 million Palestinians, to the verge of starvation.


A Hero’s Welcome for Mavi Marmara in Turkey

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Fisherman injured by israeli fire in northern Gaza

800 colonial killers raid flashpoint section of Nafha prison

Al-Dhari: israeli firms operate in Iraq

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israel hints at launching new aggression on the Gaza Strip

Palestinian Youth Assaulted Near Nablus For Not Understanding Hebrew

Igor lieberman demands Turkey apologize for Mavi Marmara massacre (video)

Gaza celebrates mass wedding

  Friday, December 24, 2010

♥ M E R R Y ♥ C H R I S T M A S ♥


Gaza-bound Asia 1 arrives in Lebanon

Christmas joy sweeps Lebanon (video)

israelis attack demo on Christmas Eve

Thousands join Palestinians celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem

israeli army levels Araqib village for eighth time

Supremacist Jews rally to kick Arabs out of Bat Yam

israel orders evacuation of Nablus village

Thousands hold anti-US rally in Karachi (video)

Rachel Corrie trial postponed indefinitely

White House Drafts Executive Order for Indefinite Detention

israeli at center of Kosovo organ trafficking scandal


Gaza: Two Years after the Horror

Turkey probes US nukes at airbase

When will the time come?

Fresh Gaza assault on cards for Tel Aviv (video)

iOA forces Jerusalemite to raze his own home

The delusions of the peace process

israeli settlements being used to blackmail children

A truce offer from Hamas (video)

ethnic cleansing surge: How many more Palestinian homes must be demolished before western governments act?

European Jewish Congress 'repulsed' by Greek priest's anti-Semitic remarks

Political prisoners critical after four weeks on hunger strike

iOF terrorize family of administrative detainee for his refusal of exile offer

Study: The poor are 55 times less likely to gain entry to prestigious universities (video)

israel deploys high-tech tanks to kill Gazans

israel approves 13,000 settlement units (video)

Colony Construction Witnessing Rapid Increase

israel/West Bank: Separate and unequal



The future of the Middle East is in the grip of israeli extremism

Nine israeli Youths’ Assault against Arabs “Extraordinarily Cruel”

Were you offended by the 'Christmas' sign at City Hall?

  Sunday, December 19, 2010


By Harmony Daws
14 Dec 10

A Talmudic scholar is in charge of whether the internet remains a free and open forum and whether big internet providers can shuttle unpopular sites into the bandwidth slow lane. This does not surprise. Our last article defends Helen Thomas’ maligned but truthful (flacmp3) statements about Jewish power and dominance in America. Here is further evidence. On December 21, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski will be meeting with the four other politically appointed commissioners to vote on his Dec. 1 proposal for “net neutrality.” Many Americans immediately cried foul about the proposal, knowing it will endanger free speech and falls far short of any real guarantee of equal access for all viewpoints.

As the Jewish Forward reports, power over government regulation of the internet “which affects the flow of information and culture, the growth of the economy and the future of communications, education and democracy itself — rests largely in the hands of Julius Genachowski, a 48-year-old Jew from Long Island with knowledge of Talmud and an appointment to one of the most critical policy posts in Washington.” Forward tells us Genachowski is “proud and open about the cultural component of his Judaism” and was raised by Lithuanian parents who fled Germany. Genochowski’s brother is president of the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach, and his cousin is a rabbi and CEO of the Orthodox Union’s Worldwide Kosher Division. His great uncle even served in the Israeli Knesset. Genachowski attended Orthodox day school as a boy and attended a Talmudic academy for high school, winning the Talmud award. After graduation, he spent a year studying Gemara (Talmudic commentary) in Jerusalem. Today, Forward says, he attends a conservative synagogue weekly.

Genochowski’s Talmudic streak was evident in his recent proposal on regulating the internet. In a speech December 1, Genachowski outlined what he called the “rules of the road” for regulation. They included an obligation of transparency for ISPs, the prohibition of ISPs from blocking content, gutting “unreasonable discrimination” on the flow of internet traffic, and allowing providers to charge different prices for different amounts of broadband use and different speeds.

The chairman’s proposal has been called a “pretend net neutrality” scheme that threatens internet free speech and democracy. The chairman claims to oppose letting (or making) big companies give faster service to some websites over others. But Save the Internet Coalition and others analyze that his proposal would let big companies split the internet into fast and slow lanes.

Genachowski and the FCC may give AT&T, Comcast and other big companies some real incentive to do just that. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps—who will cast a deciding vote on Dec. 21—recently preached to a Columbia University journalism audience that “forcing openness” (controlling media content) is so important that “we should just do it and get it over with.”

As most news followers know, Copps this week argued for a “community values test” in order for media outlets to stay licensed. Copps wants to require media to hire ethnic quotas, and he also wants media to have to check with the government about their upcoming programs. (It stands to reason that if they refuse, the FCC can pressure their internet providers to put them in the slow lane or otherwise penalize them.) Copps and others certainly want FCC regulation to go in the direction of content supervision.

He told the BBC, "We are not producing the body of news and information that democracy needs to conduct its civic dialogue, we're not producing as much news as we did five, 10 years, 15 years ago and we have to reverse that trend or I think we are going to be pretty close to denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need to have in order to make intelligent decisions about the full direction of their country.”

Wait, he said “we” aren’t producing news for “our citizens?” I don’t remember the Founding Fathers writing “direct news media” into the jobs for the state or federal government.

Copps’ words prompted Congressman Joe Barton to demand, “I hope ... that you do not mean to suggest that it is the job of the federal government, through the Federal Communications Commission, to determine the content that is available for Americans to consume.” Barton and my readers should know that this is exactly what Copps and other powerful information appointees do want. Copps responded to Barton’s letter by saying he is not in favor of a reinstated Fairness Doctrine, but he does want diversity of media; and that’s exactly why he wants more regulation—“shorter license renewal periods, more detailed reporting requirements, and more specific public interest obligations for broadcasters.” Copps claims this is within the boundaries set by the Communications Act of 1934 which created the FCC.

Five—just five!—commissioners appointed by the President (not the American people) run the Federal Communications Commission for five-year terms. They are tasked with regulating interstate and international communications by all types of media: TV, satellite, cable, wire and radio. This gives them tremendous potential power to squash free speech on the airwaves and online. As political appointees, they are not even as accountable to Americans as elected officials. This means that freedom of speech via modern media—which is the foundation and sustainment of our democracy—is in a very dangerous position.

Cass Sunstein and Shepherding American Minds

Like Genachowski, another politically appointed Jew with great power in this arena is Cass Sunstein, who works as Obama’s “information czar.” He administrates the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He has publicly stated his desire for a reformulation of the First Amendment so it is no longer seen as supporting a “free marketplace of ideas.” In his book Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech, Sunstein declares that government should regulate media so as to “reinvigorate processes of democratic deliberation, by ensuring greater attention to public issues and greater diversity of views.” In 2008, Sunstein advocated criminalizing conspiracy theories. He suggests, "Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories."

With incredible boldness, Sunstein has declared his desire that websites be forced to post the opposing viewpoint from their own. Of course, it is unlikely that leftist anti-white sites like will be forced to publish the views of white supremacists! No, it is politically incorrect views that will be forced to provide a platform for the opposition. Sunstein, like so many supremacist Jews driven bring “tikkun olam” (to repair) the Gentile world, feels that Americans shouldn’t decide what media to imbibe. He is worried about “the growing power of consumers to “filter” what they see.” He fears that conservative Americans could stop exposing themselves and their children to liberal propaganda against the civilization built by white Christian males and their devout, stay-at-home wives.

Sunstein complains in a 2001 Boston Review column: “As a result of the Internet and other technological developments, many people are increasingly engaged in a process of “personalization” that limits their exposure to topics and points of view of their own choosing.” Oh, horrors. To Sunstein, it’s a bad thing that I can select classical music and soft Hawaiian love songs as my music of choice and only read news about the government. In his world, I should definitely be exposed to death metal and ESPN updates. More importantly, I should be unable to select media sources with which I agree—at least, if they are conservative, Christian or only white.

(Hmm, that brings up a paradox. Sunstein wants “diversity” on the internet, but he and other liberal Jews don’t seem to care much about diversity among the selectors of diversity. They aren’t exactly crying out for more evangelical Christians appointed by Obama! They aren’t afraid that Jews are unfairly overrepresented, being present in the US Senate at six and a half times the extent of their presence in the general population.)

Here is Sunstein’s curriculum:

In a heterogeneous society, such a system [a “well-functioning system of free expression”] requires something other than free, or publicly unrestricted, individual choices. On the contrary, it imposes two distinctive requirements. First, people should be exposed to materials that they would not have chosen in advance. Unanticipated encounters, involving topics and points of view that people have not sought out and perhaps find irritating, are central to democracy and even to freedom itself. Second, many or most citizens should have a range of common experiences. Without shared experiences, a heterogeneous society will have a more difficult time addressing social problems and understanding one another.

Sunstein reasons that the government’s job is to keep public spaces open for all kinds of expression. Parks have to be open for speeches and protests even if the neighbors want peace and quiet. In the same way, websites are public spaces that must host diverse viewpoints. He seems to ignore the fact that websites, like books, are unique creations of their author. They are not public; they are private. If a person only wants to read Ann Coulter, that doesn’t mean Coulter should be forced to print Al Franken on every second page! But Sunstein thinks that should happen on the internet. Heaven forbid people be allowed to keep their cherished beliefs and surround themselves with like-minded thinkers. At least, not if they’re conservative, religious “fundamentalists” or otherwise an intellectual threat to the Jewish agenda for America.

This Jewish commissioner is deeply worried about “group polarization,” in which blacks tend to watch certain TV shows and whites another; this allegedly fractures social groups in a negative way. Sunstein sounds awfully like social engineers who dream of a golden brown society where the heterogenic uniqueness of various religious, ethnic and social groups has been watered down into one deliciously moldable mass. In North Korea—the opposite end of the spectrum from American freedoms—that has certainly happened. No one can think for himself. Everyone looks and lives the same, imbibing exactly the same government radio blared from public speakers, watching the same government-run TV shows, consuming the selection of “diversity” that is sanctioned by the greatest “information czar” of all, Kim Jung-Il.

Sunstein frets, “If the public is balkanized, and if different groups design their own preferred communications packages, the consequence will be further balkanization, as group members move one another toward more extreme points in line with their initial tendencies.” Human nature being what it is, he may be right. But government control is no solution.

If you want to know what happens when government runs the media, watch National Geographic’s documentary on North Korea. It streams on Netflix. Seriously, watch it. Government control of media has never led to greater diversityof available viewpoints. That is, of course, because government is much much smaller and less diverse than the population and also because government tends to be corrupt. In the case of the American government, we have a third problem: Our government and traditional media are largely run by intelligent, ambitious, and committed activist Jews who desire to undermine white Christian society (link to past article). The Talmud on Genochowski’s bedside table teaches that Gentiles and especially Christians run society counter to God’s will; Jews must rule them and thus pave the way for the coming of the true messiah (anti-Christ). The Christians’ Messiah is an evil impostor, and Gentiles themselves are hopelessly and intrinsically inferior to the Chosen Race. They are relentlessly and irrationally “anti-Semitic,” and their animalistic passions must be controlled by Jewish Noahide laws.

All Americans should be tremendously concerned that Talmudic Jews are running our information universe—just as Israelis would have reason to worry if a Bible-believing, evangelical Christian were in charge of their media world. These two identities are fundamentally opposed. Unfortunately, only Jews seem aware of that fact. Only one of the fighters knows he is in the ring. The other is oblivious that a fight is even going on.

Take Action!

The FCC will make its final decision on December 21. Save the Internet Coalition asks us to sign a petition to Michael Copps and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. Also, call your Congressmen at 1-877-851-6437 toll-free with this message provided by the Coalition:

“More than 1.9 million Americans have expressed support for Net Neutrality at Congress and the FCC. They want control over the Internet to remain in the hands of the people who use it every day. Please stand with the public by protecting Net Neutrality once and for all.”

It is very important that all lovers of freedom trumpet the fact that federal Jewish appointees are attempting to take away our free speech. It could well be that these Jewish conspirators, fearing that Jews could receive blame for a very unpopular FCC initiative, might decide the country and internet are not quite ripe for takeover and the potential anti-Jewish backlash is not worth the risk.

Harmony Daws is a writer for National Prayer Network. To greater understand the illogic behind hate laws, read her article “Top Eleven Reasons You Should Fight Hate Laws.”

Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.

TALK SHOW HOSTS: Interview Rev. Ted Pike on this subject. Call (503) 631-3808.

The freedom-saving outreach of Rev. Ted Pike and the National Prayer Network is solely supported by sale of books, videos and your financial support. All gifts are tax-deductible.

National Prayer Network

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  Saturday, December 18, 2010

Family takes stock after mass Lod demolition

By Anne Usher flac mp3
"LOD, israel" (Ma'an) -- The 67 members of the extended Abu Eid family assessed the remains of their six concrete homes on Wednesday, two days after police in Lod demolished them amidst sheets of rain and blustery winds.

The six buildings were among more than 100 in the city under immediate demolition orders, following a fall Knesset decision to destroy an estimated 4,000 illegal housing structures in a plan said to cost millions of shekels.

A dozen other homes have been bulldozed in previous years, sparking periodic protests by hundreds of Arab residents. Yousef Asfour, coordinator with Amnesty International’s Israel branch, said an earlier incident in October saw two homes in the same neighborhood of the mixed Jewish-Arab city bulldozed.

The most high-profile demolition to date was Monday's demolition of the entire Abu Eid family compound.

Most of the extended family members said they were home at around 8 a.m. when an estimated 500 police officers in tactical gear stormed the courtyard of the compound, broke through doors and quickly turned the men, women and children out into the season's worst storm without shoes or jackets. Police made no arrests.

Eleven-year-old Odei was home alone with his 12-year-old sister when police broke through his door. “They pointed rifles at me and said ‘don’t move,’” he related. Once outside, he said, "I was wet and cold. They were like gangsters,” he added of the young police in face-concealing riot gear.

All that remained after the five-hour bulldozing operation was chewed-up grey concrete, bent fans, broken air-conditioners and furniture beneath rubble. A paddock containing goats was partially broken and nearly half of what the family said was 100 animals went missing.

Family members said they were not allowed to rescue of their possessions and watched as refrigerators were destroyed and food was thrown to the floor. Five allege that they were shoved or kicked, including Shareen, 27, who is three months pregnant and had re-entered her home to try to assist her mother.

Sinam, a mother of seven, claims that officers took gold jewelry she had in safekeeping to use as dowry for her two engaged daughters. A ring with precious stones was returned, she said, but a gold chain remains missing.

Thirteen-year-old Noor claims he watched as a soldier threw his puppy – tied up and barking – and then shoot it in the stomach. “I came over and it was dying,” he said quietly as other boys noted his tears that morning.

Lod’s police chief and mayor declined multiple requests for comment.

Contesting demolitions

The family claims the six houses and small office destroyed Monday were built more than 50 years ago. Each family said it had been paying rent for decades to a state-owned company to use the land, but was 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. Expansions were nonetheless made and retroactive permits sought. After many court appeals, family members were told to expect the demolitions at the end of December.

Some 30 homeowners in same area have received notices that their houses will also be bulldozed at the end of the month.

Families whose homes are demolished are asked to pay the municipality for the steep cost of the action or be jailed; some Arab residents in Lod have taken to demolishing their own homes because it is cheaper.

Arab homes principal target in larger plan

It is a scene being repeated across Israel with increasing frequency. Some 42,000 Arab homes built without required permits are threatened with demolition: 13,000 could be carried out at any time and 30,000 are at some stage in local courts, said Ameer Makhoul, director of Ittijah, a Palestinian civil society organization.

Last year, 165 of these homes were bulldozed, Amnesty International said.

“It’s the same story for all the mixed cities: destruction and construction,” said Busayna Dabit, a project coordinator with the New Israel Fund and a Ramle resident. These “mixed” cities also include Haifa, Yaffa and Acre.

More than two-thirds of Arabs in Ramle and nearby Lod are living in illegally built houses. Hundreds have demonstrated periodically in Lod, where, the roughly 27,000 Arabs represent a third of the population.

The phenomenon is pervasive across Israel, from targeting Arab homes in mixed cities to the homes of Bedouins in the unrecognized villages. A collection of some 40 small population centers the villages house an estimated 40 percent of the Bedouins in the Negev, have been settled locations for decades and in some cases used as seasonal encampments for centuries. The areas are not demarcated on maps, receive no water, electricity, road repair or other municipal services.

In Shameer, an unrecognized village of some 4,000 Bedouins near Lod, virtually every home has been issued a demolition order. A portion of the houses, however, are being legalized under a master plan that involved negotiations between the city, the Israeli Land Authority and Shameer’s inhabitants, including amounts that the government will pay as compensation.

Next door, some 13 families in the neighboring village of Dahmash, are awaiting a court order to determine not only the fate of their homes - which are also under demolition orders - but whether Lod or the adjacent city of Ramle will be forced to absorb them into their municipalities, or whether a plan it has drawn up to make its residences legal retroactively will be approved.

The roughly 600 residents of Dahmash say the government told its original families to move there after they were forced off their lands from 1951 through the mid-1980s. While some houses have stood for more than 60 years – and one pre-dates the war – no municipal services, such as water, electricity or sanitation, have been provided to its residents. After three Dahmash children were killed crossing the railroad tracks on foot, the village won a recent court fight to bus them to schools in Ramle.

The Dahmash residents facing expulsion have been told to seek housing Ramle’s Juarish neighborhood, where thousands of Arabs were concentrated after the 1948 War of Independence but have never been given residential building licenses because the city has not registered their names.

National and local officials are intentionally not granting Arab-Israelis planning rights to allow them to develop any land, charged Amnesty International’s executive director for Israel, Itay Epshtain. “It is a form of diminished citizenship because a lot of the services you depend on are at the municipal level.”

Emek Lod’s leader, Minache Mosche, denies that Dahmash exists.

“There is no settlement or village by the name of Dahmash and there never has been one,” he said. He claimed that, with the exception of one pre-war house, there was nothing on the land except for two farm storage buildings until illegal construction of homes began in 1990.

Asked where the villagers should move, Ramle mayor Yoel Lavi said: “It’s a free market. You can buy everywhere.” “They are poor in culture, poor in behavior. No ambition.”

The cost

A kilometer away from the Abu Eid family, the wreckage of the homes of nine other families whose homes were destroyed in 2008 remains visible, across some railroad tracks from where one of the sons of a former homeowner now sleeps in a lot with dozens of sheep and his car repair shop.

The Wihwah brothers and five of their neighbors paid 15,000 shekels altogether to wreck their own homes two years ago after receiving an initial demolition order in 2003. The owners of the other two homes “didn’t think they would come,” said Telal. One week later, each had to pay 90,000 shekels when the police carried out the demolitions.

Talal said his family had to pay 250,000 shekels ($69,624) in back city taxes, despite not having received municipal services. He and his brothers say they are afraid to open bank accounts, out of fear that the city would confiscate any deposits.

“It’s very painful to look at these stones,” said Ahmad, one of his two brothers. “My grandfather owned this land. Now, I suffer from claustrophobia.”

Anne Usher is a freelance journalist based in Tel Aviv. She has written for The Christian Science Monitor and Ynet since moving to Israel and is a former editor for Cox Newspapers. Her bio is at

demolished 47 Palestinian structures in one week

CAIRO, (PIC)-- OCHA, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, issued a report Saturday documenting 47 Palestinian-owned structures that were ripped down in the West Bank's Area C in one week for allegedly missing building permits.

43 of those structures destroyed in the period Dec. 8 to 14 were erected in housing complexes in areas announced to be closed military zones, known also as “shooting zones”, the report said. The area is under Israeli security and civil control.

Israeli authorities sparked the widest-ranging demolition process in the Nablus village of Kirba Tana with 29 buildings crushed, 11 of them residential structures, 17 barns, an elementary school, ejecting 61 people from their homes, including 13 children. 100 others were affected. “This was the third time since 2005 this village was subjected to intense demolition activity,” OCHA reported.

The lives of 960 people and 4,000 animals in the Al-Khalil area were affected after 14 wells were destroyed. Four fruit and vegetable stands were knocked down in the Jordan valley affecting four families.

Israeli authorities issued orders to stop construction on six buildings in the area, four of them in the Dir Abu Mishaal village in Ramallah.

46 people constituting four families in that time span were evicted from their homes near the Ramallah village of Al-Mughayyir, because their rural compound fell in a closed military zone. The Israelis demolished two other homes in east Jerusalem, affecting two families and fourteen people.

Farmer: Settlers burned my sheep alive

NABLUS (Ma’an) -- A farmer said he watched a group of settlers in the northern West Bank gather his sheep and set them on fire Saturday afternoon.

When he returned to the area, he told officials, he found 12 sheep burned alive, five with severe burns and two others that were only lightly burned. "I've lost at least $12,000," he said, calling the act abominable.

Mayor of Aqraba, the village near where the attack took place, Jawdat Bani Jabir, identified the farmer as 40-year-old Samir Muhammad Bani Fadl.

Fadil said he was out pasturing his sheep in the eastern part of the village when a group of armed settlers approached him in a white car and asked him to come and speak with them. Feeling threatened, in an area where rights organizations recorded a ballooning number of settler attacks and vandalism during the month of October, Fadil fled and watched the group from an adjacent hill.

According to the farmer's testimony, the settlers gathered all the sheep into an area thick with brush, and set fire to the bushes.

Mayor Jabir called the attack vicious, and blamed the residents of the settlements encircling the area: Maale Efraym, Itamar, and Hetzit.

"Fadil has nine daughters who depend on him and he has sustained a deep loss today," the mayor said, calling for an inquiry into the incident.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official in charge of following up with settlement activities in the northern West Bank, condemned the attack demanding pressure on Israel by the international community to quell settler violence.