USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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Archive for June, 2014

Israeli Assaults on Palestinian Youth: Putting the Abduction of Israeli Teens in Context

Posted by uscsjp on June 18, 2014

International media ignore Israel’s abduction of Palestinian teens

In the first ten days of June, seventeen teenage boys were abducted in the occupied West Bank. The youngest was thirteen, the oldest seventeen.

Some were dragged at gunpoint from their homes and family in the middle of the night; others were seized from the streets in broad daylight.

All of the abductions were documented by the Palestinian Monitoring Group. None were reported by the international media. No Western politicians called for the release of the boys.

On 12 June, three more teenage boys went missing in the West Bank. Their disappearance sparked worldwide media coverage, cries of terrorism and demands for their release by the US Secretary of State and the UK Foreign Secretary.

Those three are Israeli. The seventeen others are Palestinian.

And, if the case of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, taken by Palestinian forces in Gaza in 2006 and released in 2011, is any indication, Western interest in the case of these three Israelis will not wane until they are found…

–The Electronic Intifada, June 17th, 2014



Israeli Forces Round Up 150 Palestinians, Kill 1 in Search for Teens

Israeli forces have killed a Palestinian and rounded up 150 others, including the speaker of the Palestinian Parliament, as part of a massive hunt for three Israeli teens who went missing in the West Bank last week. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the Palestinian group Hamas of kidnapping the teenagers. Israeli forces have flooded residential areas, searching homes and effectively sealing off the city of Hebron. Earlier today an Israeli soldier shot and killed a 20-year-old Palestinian near Ramallah, accusing him of throwing rocks. At a rally in Gaza City this morning, protesters, including Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri, condemned Israel’s actions and voiced support for Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails.

Mushir al-Masri: “The main reason behind the tension is the Israeli occupation, which did not respond to the demands of the hunger-striking prisoners who have been fasting for over 50 days. There are 5,000 prisoners facing slow death, who have spent long decades in the Zionist enemy’s jails. So the life of Zionists is not more sacred than the life of the over 5,000 prisoners in the enemy’s jails. We warn Israel against the consequences of any stupidities, including the violation of international law.”The search for the Israeli teens comes a month after Israeli forces killed two Palestinian teenagers in the West Bank. An autopsy on one of the teens has confirmed he was killed by live bullets. Human Rights Watch has called the killings an “apparent war crime.”

–Democracy Now, June 16th, 2014



Human Rights Watch: Killing of Children Apparent War Crime

(Jerusalem) – Video footage, photographs, witness statements, and medical records indicate that two 17-year-old boys whom Israeli forces shot and killed on May 15, 2014 posed no imminent threat to the forces at the time. The boys, who had been participating in a demonstration in the West Bank, were apparently shot with live ammunition, Human Rights Watch said.

Video footage clearly shows Israeli soldiers firing in the direction of the boys, Nadim Nawareh and Mohammed Salameh, and the boys falling to the ground. Medical records indicate that the two boys, as well as 15-year-old, Mohammed Azza, whom Israeli forces also shot and seriously wounded, suffered wounds to the chest caused by live ammunition. Nawareh and Salameh were shot right through the chest. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch they heard the sound of live ammunition being fired, quite distinct from the sound of rubber bullet fire, at the time the three boys were shot…

…Israeli forces have repeatedly used live ammunition against Palestinians during demonstrations, including recently in Beitunia, and shot Palestinians who posed no threat to them. On April 4, Israeli forces shot Mohammed Yassin, a volunteer cameraman with B’Tselem, with live ammunition while he was filming a protest in Beitunia. Video filmed by a second cameraman, which Human Rights Watch viewed, shows that Yassin was filming the demonstrations from the side of the street, was not participating, and posed no threat to Israeli forces. Yassin, who was wearing a fluorescent yellow vest, was shot in front of the same building and about 10 meters from where Nawareh and Salameh were killed. B’Tselem reported that Israeli forces shot five other people with 0.22 caliber bullets in Beitunia on April 4, and that the victims were taken to the Ramallah hospital.

Human Rights Watch documented fatal shootings by Israeli forces in the West Bank of two Palestinian boys who posed no threat to them, in January and December 2013 respectively. The military has not prosecuted anyone in either case. An autopsy recovered the bullet that killed Wajih al-Ramahi, 15, whom Israeli forces shot in the back from a distance of about 200 meters near the Jalazon refugee camp in December 2013. Al-Haq, a Palestinian rights group, said that the Palestinian authorities have not been able to transfer the bullet to Jordan for ballistic analysis because the Israeli military has not given the approval required to take it across the Israeli-controlled border crossing.



–Human Rights Watch, June 9th, 2014



 Israeli Forces Kill 6 in Occupied Territories


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BDS South Africa: “Israel’s War on the Youth of Palestine”

Posted by uscsjp on June 18, 2014

As we commemorate Youth Day and Youth Month in South Africa, we recall the countless young people who fought (and died) in our struggle for liberation. The young people who took to our streets, slung stones, sometimes even took up arms and protested against Apartheid South African. Our freedom was, indeed, not free. We are also painfully reminded of the hundreds of thousands of other children in Swaziland, Western Sahara and elsewhere who are deprived of a childhood. In particular we are reminded of the Palestinian youth and young children who are systematically and routinely targeted, detained and abused by the Israeli army and regime (including the over 200 Palestinian children, several under the age of 16, currently imprisoned by the State of Israel).
Click here to watch a recent ABC Television Networks (Australia) documentary by reporter John Lyons produced for Australia’s current affairs TV program, Four Corners. The documentary was produced following a joint investigation by Four Corners and an Australian newspaper into how the Israeli army routinely and systematically targets Palestinian boys and youth for arrest and detention. Click here for a short 5 minute version or click here for the longer and complete 45 minute version.
In 1948 (the same year that apartheid became official policy in South Africa) the Modern State of Israel (different but sometimes –deliberately– confused with the Biblical Land of Israel) was established in Palestine at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians. Since 1948, the Modern State of Israel has increased its occupation of Palestine by colonizing more and more Palestinian land – isolating the indigenous Palestinian population (Christians, Muslims and others) into small cantons or bantustans (click here for images of relevant maps).
Under Apartheid in South Africa some tried to justify Apartheid South Africa as a promise from God. However, the South African liberation struggle insisted that God cannot be reduced to a real estate agent and that God, in all situations, takes the side of the oppressed. Similarly today, some Israelis claim that the Modern State of Israel is a promise from God. Similar to some white South Africans at the time of apartheid, some Israelis today claim that they have a covenant with God who has decided to give them the land of Palestine regardless of its indigenous Palestinian inhabitants. Perhaps one of the only viable solutions for Palestine-Israel is for the indigenous Palestinians and the Israelis to share a common future. Similar to the shared common future that we South Africans (indigenous Africans, Whites and all others) now share in South Africa – a democratic country for all inhabitants.
In 2005, with Israel‘s occupation, colonization, discrimination, human rights abuses, violations of International Law and illegal Israelisettlement activity increasing, Palestinians (inspired by the successful boycott and isolation of Apartheid South Africa) called on the international community to support a non-violent campaign ofboycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until Israelcomplies with international law and respects human rights.
The BDS campaign is not a malicious, blunt or punitive campaign to punish Israelis but rather, it is a practical, non-violent, goal-orientated and strategic campaign to hold the Modern State of Israelaccountable to international law. The BDS campaign is also increasingly supported by (progressive) Israelis. The international isolation of Israel it is hoped will lead to the necessary conditions for a just peace to be negotiated – similar to what occurred in South Africa and brought about a democratic country for all our people.
Israel and its supporters have invested millions of rands and dollars into countering the growing BDS campaign. Earlier this year, for example, Israel‘s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting with several Israeli cabinet ministers to discuss the growing boycott and isolation of Israel. The meeting, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reports, discussed (amongst other items) dedicating a budget of 100 million shekels (over 310 million rands or 28 million dollars) for the implementation (by Israel‘s Ministry of Strategic Affairs) of a large scale anti-BDS plan, which would include an aggressive legal and media campaign against the BDS movement. In their own acknowledgements, however, the Israeli government and lobby have several times admitted to being outplayed by the Palestinian solidarity and BDS movement (click here for a relevant anecdotal article).
We need your support. BDS South Africa (a registered South African NPO and PBO) is the local South African office (together with other Palestine solidarity groups, trade unions, political formations and human rights organizations) advancing the international BDS campaign against Israel. BDS South Africa relies solely on donations from the general public and it is only through the continued support of many individuals, like yourself, that we are able to carry out our work for equality and freedom in Palestine-IsraelPlease consider making a contribution to the organization, and thus enable us to continue our work and campaigns. BDS South Africa is a registered Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) with Section 18A tax-deductible status.This means that any donations made to us can be used to apply for tax exemptions.
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BDS South Africa is a registered Non-Profit Organization. NPO NUMBER: 084 306 NPO
BDS South Africa is a registered Public Benefit Organisation with Section 18A status. PBO NUMBER: 930 037 446

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Jonathan Cook: Difficult Tests Await the New Palestinian Unity Government

Posted by uscsjp on June 10, 2014

In last week’s celebratory atmosphere as the Palestinian unity government was sworn in, ending a seven-year feud between Fatah and Hamas, it was easy to overlook who was absent.

Hamas had agreed to remain in the shadows to placate Washington, which is legally obliged to refuse aid to a government that includes a designated terrorist group. The new Palestinian cabinet looked little different from its predecessor. Hamas’s input was limited to three independents, all in low-level ministerial positions.

And because this transitional government is still operating within the confines of Israeli occupation, the three ministers from Gaza were refused permits to travel to the West Bank for the swearing-in ceremony.

The appointment of a temporary government of technocrats is likely to be the easiest phase of the reconciliation agreed in late April. The deal has endured so far because Hamas, in even more desperate straits than its rival, Fatah, has capitulated.

For that reason, the US and most of the world hurried to offer their blessing. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, made dire warnings about the “strengthening of terror” and approved 3,300 settler homes to punish the Palestinians.

A far trickier stage is still to come: the Palestinian cabinet under President Mahmoud Abbas needs to oversee a bitterly contested national election between Fatah and Hamas.

The elections, expected next year, are vital. Palestinians have had no say in who rules them since 2006, when Hamas was victorious. A year later, Hamas and Fatah created separate fiefdoms in Gaza and the West Bank. Both need to prove their legitimacy at the ballot box. Should voting take place, and Hamas win again, the US and others can be expected to boycott the new government as they did back in 2006.

Other aspects of the earlier election’s conduct are instructive. In the months prior to voting eight years ago, Israel initiated a wave of arrests of Hamas leaders in an attempt to disrupt the democratic process. Israel also hoped to block voting in occupied East Jerusalem, which it considers part of its “eternal, indivisible” capital. But the White House – realising a ballot without Jerusalem would lack credibility – pressured Israel into grudging acquiescence.

Less well remembered is that Fatah quietly conspired with Israel to try to postpone the national vote. Fearing that Hamas would sweep the board, Fatah hoped to use Israeli intransigence in Jerusalem as the necessary pretext to delay the wider elections to a time more favourable to its candidates.

Mr Netanyahu has already announced that he will not allow an election in East Jerusalem, as well as indicating that Hamas will be barred from running elsewhere. That is hardly surprising: Israel has spent the past eight years eradicating Hamas from Jerusalem by jailing its leaders or expelling them.

But Fatah’s behaviour in 2006 hints at an even bigger obstacle to consummating the reconciliation. The reality is that Hamas and Fatah have entered the process only out of mutual despair.

Hamas’s political and geographical isolation in Gaza has plumbed new depths since the Egyptian regime turned hostile. Blockaded on all sides, Hamas has seen its support erode as the enclave’s economic crisis has deepened. A deal with Fatah seems the only way to open the borders.

The credibility of Fatah and Mr Abbas, meanwhile, has been steadily undermined by years of cooperation with Israel – all while the settlements have expanded – in the hope of extracting a concession on statehood.

Mr Abbas’s new strategy – creating a momentum towards statehood at the United Nations – requires that his government-in-waiting establish its democratic credentials, territorial integrity and a national consensus behind the diplomatic option.

The priority for Mr Netanyahu is not only to void the elections but to weaken the two sides’ commitment to unity by punishing them for their insolence. He can do so given Israel’s control over all aspects of Palestinian life.

Israel has begun not only with another fierce round of settlement building, but by declaring war on the Palestinian economy, refusing to accept shekel deposits from Palestinian banks, and by imposing collective daily blackouts on Palestinians for unpaid bills to Israel’s electricity company.

Mr Abbas, now responsible for paying the salaries of tens of thousands of public employees in Gaza each month, will be even more vulnerable to Israeli threats to refuse to transfer tax and customs revenues. It emerged yesterday that Israel is also lobbying foreign capitals to hold the Palestinian president directly responsible for any rockets fired from Gaza.

Hamas faces a no less difficult period ahead. If it strays too far from Fatah’s dictates, it will be blamed for destroying the unity pact, but if it adheres too close to Fatah, it will lose its identity and risk being outflanked by more militant groups like Islamic Jihad.

Samah Sabawi, a political analyst, observed of the unity government: “What we need more than ministries and authorities is resistance and liberation.” The unity government – whether of technocrats or elected officials – will still operate within the limitations imposed by Israel’s occupation.

In fact, the unity government simply breathes new life into the illusion – created by the Oslo accords of two decades ago – that good governance by the Palestinian Authority can change the Palestinians’ situation for the better.

In practice, such governance has entailed submitting to Israel’s security demands, a Palestinian obligation Mr Abbas termed “sacred” last week.

As Ms Sabawi suggests, an occupied people needs not better rubbish collection or street lighting but an effective strategy for resistance.

Palestinians will not benefit from a PA that polices the occupation simply because it becomes more “unified”. Rather, their struggle to attain real freedom will grow that bit more daunting.


–The National, 9 June, 2014

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