1 – Israeli “Justice”: Paul Larudee Denied Entry to Palestine by Israel
2 – HRW: “Israeli artillery fire was to blame” in Gaza Beach Massacre
3 – Bil’in Unites in Solidarity With Gaza
4 – ISM Brighton to Hold Freedom Summer Induction
5 – Israeli Soldiers in Hebron Refuse to Prevent Attacks Against Palestinians, Internationals
6 – Fire Dancing in Hebron
7 – Counterpunch: “For Arabs Only – Israeli Law and Order”
8 – Haaretz: No Scanning Machines, No Arabs!
9 – Chicago Tribune: “Palestinian issue dominates Caterpillar meeting”
1 – Israeli “Justice”: Paul Larudee Denied Entry to Palestine by Israel
UPDATE, 19th of June: Judge Pilpel yesterday ruled that Paul will be denied entry. Paul has now left the country. There are now 15 days to file an appeal against the denial of entry. At this time, a decison on whether to do this or not has not been made.
17th June: Israeli friends who came to attend the court hearing Thursday of Paul Larudee, Ph.D., a 60-year-old piano tuner from California, were shocked at how the so-called trial transpired. After opening statements from both the defence and prosecution lawyers, Judge Pilpel requested a private conference in the judge’s chambers with secret service agents who presented her with “secret evidence” explaining why Paul should be denied entry to Israel.
Paul’s denial of entrance to Israel means denying Paul access to the occupied Palestinian territories where he was planning to support Palestinian nonviolent resistance with the ISM (the International Solidarity Movement) and has twenty engagements scheduled for tuning pianos. Israel continues to control all the border crossings in and out of the West Bank plus the only border crossing for use of internationals in and out of Gaza. Israel has denied entry to thousands of peace activists in the past three years and completely denies foreign nationals the right to visit Gaza.
To the dismay of Paul’s attorney, Gaby Lasky, Judge Pilpel came back from her session with the secret service saying that she thinks that there is no reason to discuss the other points brought up in the defence. The reason for Paul’s detention was not questioned nor presented to the public. This kind of “trial” is common in Israel’s military legal system, through which thousands of Palestinians have been sentenced to renewable periods of “administrative detention” based on secret charges that are, in turn, based on secret evidence.
It is inevitable that democratic values in the Israeli civil legal system, such as an individual’s right to defend himself in court, have been eroded under such a system. Democratic values cannot co-exist in an apartheid system. The Israeli civil court system cannot respect human rights as long as there is a parallel military legal system in which the human rights of Palestinians are disregarded.
Paul has been held in detention since the 4th of June. Judge Pilpel will give her decision on Sun June 18th at 8:00 AM
From his holding cell, Dr. Larudee made this statement,
“Am I a security threat to Israel?”
“Numerous ISM volunteers have been denied entry, for no more than the infamous ‘secret security’ reasons that no one is allowed to see. Case closed.
“What could the mysterious security reasons for my detention be? Perhaps there are clues. Let’s assume that it has something to do with my participation in the International Solidarity Movement, which practices nonviolent resistance against Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights. First, let’s acknowledge that Israeli authorities are no fans of the ISM. We support Palestinian nonviolent resistance to the occupation on a regular basis. This may be against Israeli regulations, but that is the nature of nonviolent civil disobedience, and our actions have spared lives, both Israeli and Palestinian.
“Let me acknowledge that my treatment here is not onerous. The cells are as comfortable as one could reasonably expect in what is, in effect, a prison. The guards are courteous and make every effort to accommodate special needs. There are, however differences between my treatment and that of other detainees. I have been isolated from the rest of the population and am usually the only person in a single cell. Second, I am not permitted use of any mobile phone, while all others have this privilege. More than once, I have been told “not to talk to journalists.” Finally, I was not even permitted paper and pencil until a flood of calls and a visit from the US Consul managed to reverse that draconian condition. These restrictions point towards suppression of free speech and dissent as the real motivation, not security concerns.”
2 – HRW: “Israeli artillery fire was to blame” in Gaza Beach Massacre
UPDATED, 18th June: A follow-up report from HRW and an investigation by the Guardian, that cast further doubt on the Israeli military’s “investigation” of itself, can both be found at the end of this report.
Human Rights Watch report: “Israel: Investigate Gaza Beach Killings”
Artillery Strike Probably Killed Palestinian Family
(Gaza City, June 13, 2006) – Israel should immediately launch an independent, impartial investigation of a June 9 Israeli artillery strike on a beach north of Gaza City, Human Rights Watch said today. Seven Palestinian civilians picnicking on the beach were killed that day and dozens of others were wounded.
Human Rights Watch researchers have visited the site to examine the fatal crater and have interviewed victims, witnesses, security and medical staff.
“There has been much speculation about the cause of the beach killings, but the evidence we have gathered strongly suggests Israeli artillery fire was to blame,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and Africa division at Human Rights Watch. “It is crucial that an independent investigative team, with the necessary expertise, verify the facts in a transparent manner.”
The independent investigation should involve the use of external, international experts. Human Rights Watch called on the Palestinian Authority to permit such an investigation, including allowing access to the site by the investigative team. Israel has carried out an internal army probe into the incident and released its findings this evening, saying the explosion was not caused by an Israeli artillery shell. However, such internal investigations by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have generally fallen short of international standards for thorough and impartial investigations and have rarely uncovered the truth or held to account the perpetrators of violations, as documented in a 2005 Human Rights Watch report, Promoting Impunity: The Israeli Military’s Failure to Investigate Wrongdoing.
The head of the IDF’s southern command, General Yoav Galant, has said that IDF forces fired six artillery shells at an area described as approximately 250 meters away from the fatal incident between 4:32 p.m. and 4:51 p.m. on Friday, June 9. Human Rights Watch investigations indicate that the evidence overwhelmingly supports the allegations that the civilians were killed by artillery shells fired by the IDF.
The attack at the beach comes amidst an intensified Israeli response to Qassam rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups operating in the area. Human Rights Watch, which is also investigating the use of Qassams against Israeli civilians, has previously called on Palestinian armed groups to cease such unlawful attacks. The Qassam attacks violate international law because they fail to discriminate between military targets and civilians. Qassam rockets are highly imprecise, homemade weapons that are incapable of being targeted at specific objects.
Human Rights Watch researchers currently in Gaza interviewed victims, witnesses, Palestinian security officers and doctors who treated the wounded after the incident. They also visited the site of the explosion, where they found a large piece of unoxidized jagged shrapnel, stamped “155mm,” which would be consistent with an artillery shell fired by the IDF’s M-109 Self-Propelled Artillery.
Human Rights Watch spoke to the Palestinian explosive ordnance disposal unit who investigated three craters on the beach, including the one where the civilians were killed. According to General Salah Abu `Azzo, head of the Palestinian unit, they also gathered and removed shrapnel fragments consistent with 155mm artillery shells.
Eyewitnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch described between five and six explosions on the beach between 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., the time frame when the IDF fired artillery onto the beach and when the seven civilians were killed. Two survivors said they heard the sound of an incoming projectile and saw a blur of motion in the sky before the explosion that killed the seven civilians. Residents of northern Gaza are familiar with the sounds of regular artillery fire.
Doctors also confirmed to Human Rights Watch researchers that the injuries from the attack, which were primarily to the head and torso, are consistent with the heavy shrapnel of artillery shells used by the IDF. Doctors said the shrapnel they removed from Palestinian patients in Gaza was of a type that comes from an artillery shell.
According to readings from a Global Positioning Satellite taken by Human Rights Watch, the crater where the victims were killed was within the vicinity of the other artillery craters created by the IDF’s June 9 artillery attack and was the same shape and size. One crater was 100 meters away from the fatal crater, and the rest were 250 to 300 meters away.
Some Israeli officials have suggested the explosion may have been caused by a mine placed by Palestinian militants, rather than one of their artillery shells, despite the fact that they cannot account for the final landing place of one of their six shells.
However, according to on-site investigations by Human Rights Watch, the size of the craters and the type of injuries to the victims are not consistent with the theory that a mine caused the explosion. The craters are too large to be made by bounding mines, the only type of landmines capable of producing head and torso injuries of the type suffered by the victims on June 9. Additionally, Palestinian armed groups are not known to have, or to have used, bounding mines; the Palestinian government bomb squad said it has never uncovered a bounding mine in any explosive incident.
Since its September 2005 pullout from Gaza, the IDF has regularly struck northern Gaza with artillery shelling, in response to Qassam rocket attacks from the area by Palestinian armed groups. In the last 10 months, Israel has admitted to firing more than 5,000 artillery shells into the area. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs puts the number at 5,700 IDF shells fired since the end of March 2005.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, IDF artillery fire has killed 47 Palestinians, including 11 children and five women, and injured 192 others since September 2005. It has also damaged dozens of homes in northern Gaza.
Human Rights Watch researchers visiting the area say almost every house on the periphery of areas of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia in northern Gaza has holes in it indicative of Israeli artillery shrapnel. In a June 10 interview with the New York Times, General Aviv Kochavi, the Israeli commander for the south, indicated that the purpose of the artillery shelling is to deter future attacks and punish area residents: “The message we are trying to convey, you can call it deterrence, but it’s ‘Ladies and gentlemen, there is an equivalence: so long as you shoot qassams at us, we’ll shoot at you.'”
International law requires attacking forces to distinguish between soldiers and civilians, targeting only the former. It prohibits indiscriminate attacks, which use a method or means of warfare that cannot distinguish between the two groups. It also prohibits disproportionate attacks in which the civilian harm outweighs military necessity.
“The IDF has a legal duty to do everything feasible to verify that targets are military objectives and to avoid civilian deaths,” Whitson said. “The investigation should determine how the beach picnickers died and whether international law was violated. If that’s the case, it must consider how best to compensate the victims and how to prevent future deaths.”
Human Rights Watch researchers have been in Sderot and Gaza on a fact-finding mission documenting the impact of Palestinian Qassam fire from Gaza into Israel and Israeli artillery shelling into northern Gaza. In Israel, the team was in Sderot when the town was hit by two Palestinian Qassams on Thursday, June 8, and also witnessed two more Qassams hitting Nativ Ha’asara the same day; there were no apparent injuries as a result of those attacks. Since Human Rights Watch’s visit to the Western Negev, the Israeli media has reported that 54 Qassam rockets have been fired at Sderot. According to news reports, on Sunday one rocket seriously wounded Yonatan Engel, a 60-year-old resident of Sderot.
According to witnesses, the Ghalya family went to the beach on June 9 for a family outing. After shells fell nearby, the father, `Ali, hurriedly gathered his family together and called for a car. An explosion then occurred in the middle of the family group.
“Their legs I could see inside. Their intestines I could see spilling out,” said Mohammed Sawarka, 28, who rushed to the scene to help. “A 1-month-old child was dead inside its carriage.” He also found a hand in the sand. Doctors at the Shifa Hospital corroborated this testimony.
Amani Ghalya, 22, suffered severe abdominal injuries and lost her arm. Her sister, Latifa, 7, has brain damage. Both were still in the intensive care unit on Sunday, June 11. Their mother Hamdia, 40, `Ali’s second wife, suffered a compound fracture and lost a chunk of flesh in her arm. She also pointed to shrapnel wounds to her abdomen and upper leg.
The family members killed in the attack, and their ages, were: `Ali `Isa Ghalya, 49; Ra’issa Ghalya, 35; Haitham Ghalya, 1; Hanadi Ghalya, 2; Sabrin Ghalya, 4; Ilham Ghalya, 15; and `Alia Ghalya, 17.
Shrapnel from the blast also pierced a nearby car where Hani Radwan Azanin’s daughters Nagham, 4, and Dima, 7, were hiding. They suffered serious injuries to their backs and arms. Human Rights Watch visited the car and found multiple shrapnel holes and a piece of shrapnel.
“All of the patients are suffering from multiple injuries. There was massive destruction of bone, muscle, skin,” said Dr. Nabil Al-Shawa of Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, who treated some of the victims. The research team took photographs of some of the survivors, available on the Human Rights Watch website.
* * *
Israel: More Evidence on Beach Killings Implicates IDF
Palestinians Agree to Independent Inquiry
(Gaza, June 15, 2006) – A digitally dated and time-stamped blood test report of a victim treated at a Palestinian hospital that admitted wounded from the June 9 killings on a Gaza beach suggests that the attack took place during the time period of an Israeli artillery attack, Human Rights Watch said today. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have denied responsibility for the killings, saying that although they fired six artillery shells onto the beach between 4:32 p.m. and 4:51 p.m., the fatal incident must have occurred after that.
Human Rights Watch first challenged this conclusion, concluding that the IDF most likely caused the killings, in a press release based on an investigation by its researchers in Gaza.
Human Rights Watch researchers examined the computer-generated record from the Kamal Adwan hospital, which documents the blood test of a victim from the beach incident being taken at 5:12 p.m. on June 9. Furthermore, hand-written hospital records log patients from the incident as having been admitted starting at 5:05 p.m. If the records are accurate, based on the time needed to dispatch an ambulance and drive from the hospital to the beach and back, this suggests that the fatal explosion took place at a time when the IDF said it was firing artillery rounds. Both sets of records also directly call into question the account of the IDF that ambulances did not reach the beach until 5:15 p.m. that day.
Altering the records would require re-setting the computer’s clock and re-writing pages of the hospital’s admissions log. Human Rights Watch researchers said that the pages they saw documented patients un-related to the beach incident, followed by two pages of victims from the beach. The first of those were admitted at 5:05 p.m. The researchers saw no evidence that the times might have been altered.
Israeli military officials have also suggested the explosion, which killed seven members of the Ghalya family and wounded many others, might have been caused by a mine. But Human Rights Watch researchers also examined blood-crusted shrapnel given to them by the father of a 19-year-old male who suffered abdominal wounds in the beach explosion. They determined that the shrapnel is a piece of fuse from an artillery shell.
“The likelihood that the Ghalya family was killed by an explosive other than one of the shells fired by the IDF is remote,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. “This new evidence highlights the urgent need for Israel to permit an independent, transparent investigation into the beach killings.”
Human Rights Watch received a fax today from the office of Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, saying that the president’s office, which is holding much of the shrapnel removed from the blast victims, would cooperate and share evidence with an independent inquiry team.
* * *
Who really killed Huda Ghalia’s family?
Guardian investigation undermines military claim that Israeli shells could not have been responsible for death of girl’s family
Chris McGreal in Beit Lahia, Friday June 16, 2006, The Guardian
Heartrending pictures of 10-year-old Huda Ghalia running wildly along a Gaza beach crying “father, father, father” and then falling weeping beside his body turned the distraught girl into an instant icon of the Palestinian struggle even before she fully grasped that much of her family was dead.
But the images of the young girl who lost her father, step-mother and five of her siblings as picnicking families fled a barrage of Israeli shells a week ago have become their own battleground.
Who and what killed the Ghalia family, and badly maimed a score of other people, has been the subject of an increasingly bitter struggle for truth all week amid accusations that a military investigation clearing the army was a cover-up, that Hamas was really responsible and even that the pictures of Huda’s grief were all an act.
However, a Guardian investigation into the sequence of events raises new and so far unanswered questions about the Israeli military probe that cleared the army of responsibility. Evidence from hospital records, doctors’ testimony and witness accounts challenges the military’s central assertion that it had stopped shelling by the time seven members of the Ghalia family were killed.
In addition, fresh evidence from the US group Human Rights Watch, which offered the first forensic questioning of the army’s account, casts doubt on another key claim – that shrapnel taken from the wounded was not from the kind of artillery used to shell Gaza.
The pictures of Huda’s traumatic hunt for her father garnered instant sympathy around the world and focused unwelcome attention for Israel on its tactic of firing thousands of shells into Gaza over recent weeks, killing more than 20 civilians, to deter Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli towns.
The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, initially apologised for the killings but the military swiftly realised it was confronting another PR disaster to rival that of the killing of Mohammed al-Dura, the 12-year-old boy who died in his father’s arms amid a barrage of gunfire six years ago and became the first iconic victim of the intifada.
The army quickly convened a committee to investigate the deaths on the beach and almost as swiftly absolved itself of responsibility.
The committee acknowledged the army fired six shells on and around Beit Lahia beach from artillery inside Israel. But it said that by coincidence a separate explosion – probably a mine planted by Hamas or a buried old shell ó occurred in the same area at about the same time, killing the family.
The army admitted that one of the six shells was unaccounted for but said it was “impossible”, based on location and timings, for the sixth shell to have done the killing. The investigation also concluded that shrapnel taken from some of the wounded was not from artillery used that day.
The military declared its version of events definitive and an end to the matter. Others went further and saw a Palestinian conspiracy. An American pro-Israel pressure group, Camera, which seeks to influence media coverage, went so far as to suggest that the film of Huda Ghalia’s trauma was faked: “Were the bodies moved, was the girl asked to re-enact her discovery for the camera, was the video staged?”
But the army’s account quickly came in for criticism, led by a former Pentagon battlefield analyst, Marc Garlasco, investigating the deaths for Human Rights Watch.
“You have the crater size, the shrapnel, the types of injuries, their location on the bodies. That all points to a shell dropping from the sky, not explosives under the sand,” he said. “I’ve been to hospital and seen the injuries. The doctors say they are primarily to the head and torso. That is consistent with a shell exploding above the ground, not a mine under it.”
Mr Garlasco produced shrapnel from the site apparently marked as a 155mm shell used by the army that day.
Timing a key issue
The key part of the military’s defence hinged on timings. It says it fired the six shells toward the beach between 4.30pm and 4.48pm, and that the artillery barrage stopped nine minutes before the explosion that killed the Ghalia family.
The military concluded that the deadly explosion occurred between 4.57pm and 5.10pm based on surveillance of the beach by a drone that shows people relaxing until just before 5pm and the arrival of the first ambulance at 5.15pm.
Major General Meir Kalifi, who headed the army’s investigation committee, said the nine-minute gap is too wide for Israel to have been responsible for the deaths. “I can without doubt say that no means used by the Israeli defence force during this time period caused the incident,” he said.
But hospital admissions records, testimony from doctors and ambulance men and eyewitness accounts suggest that the military has got the timing of the explosion wrong, and that it occurred while the army was still shelling the beach.
Palestinian officials also question the timing of video showing people relaxing on the beach undisturbed just before 5pm if the army, by its own admission, was dropping shells close by in the previous half an hour.
Several of those who survived the explosion say it came shortly after two or three other blasts consistent with a pattern of shells falling on the beach.
Among the survivors was Hani Asania. When the shelling began, he grabbed his daughters – Nagham, 4, and Dima, 7 – and moved toward his car on the edge of the beach. The Ghalia family was gathered on the sand nearby awaiting a taxi.
“There was an explosion, maybe 500 metres away. Then there was a second, much closer, about two minutes later. People were running from the beach. I carried my girls and put them in the car but I forgot my mobile phone and I ran back to get it,” said Mr Asania.
“Maybe two minutes later there was a third shell. I could feel the pressure of the blast on my face it was so strong. I saw pieces of people. I looked at my car and my girls were screaming.”
This sequence is backed by others including Huda’s brother, Eyham, 20.
Annan Ghalia, Huda’s uncle, called an ambulance.
“We were sitting on the sand waiting for the taxis, the men on one side and the women on the other. The shell landed closer to the girls,” he said. “I was screaming for people to help us. No one was coming. After about two minutes I called the ambulance on my mobile phone.”
The first ambulance took children to the Kamal Odwan hospital. Its registration book records that five children wounded in the blast were admitted at 5.05pm. The book contains entries before and after the casualties from the beach, all of whom are named, and shows no sign of tampering.
The hospital’s computer records a blood test taken from a victim at 5.12pm. Human Rights Watch said altering the records would require re-setting the computer’s clock.
The distance from the beach to the hospital is 6km. Even at speed, the drive through Beit Lahia’s crowded back streets and rough roads would not take less than five minutes and would be slower with badly wounded patients on board.
Dr Bassam al-Masri, who treated the first wounded at Kamal Odwan, said allowing for a round trip of at least 10 minutes and time to load them, the ambulance would have left the hospital no later than 4.50pm – just two minutes after the Israelis say they stopped shelling.
Factoring in additional time for emergency calls and the ambulances to be dispatched, the timings undermine the military’s claim that the killer explosion occurred after the shelling stopped.
A second Beit Lahia hospital, the Alwada, also received a call for ambulances. Doctors say records were completed after treating the patients so they have no written account of timings.
But the first ambulance man to leave the hospital, and a doctor summoned to work, say they have a clear recollection of the time. The ambulance driver, Khaled Abu Sada, said he received a call from the emergency control room between 4.45 and 4.50pm.
“I went to look for a nurse to come with me but he couldn’t because there had been a shooting in a family feud and he was treating people,” he said. “I left the hospital at 4.50pm and was at the beach by 5pm.”
The Alwada’s anaesthetist, Dr Ahmed Mouhana, was woken by a call from a fellow doctor calling him to the hospital.
“I looked at the time. That’s what you do when someone wakes you up. It was 4.55pm. Dr Nasser couldn’t tell me what was going on so I called Abu Jihad [Mr Abu Sada] and asked him. He said he didn’t know but I should get to the hospital quickly as it sounded bad,” he said.
Mr Abu Sada remembers receiving the call while driving to the beach. Dr Mouhana left for the hospital immediately.
“It only takes 10 minutes from my house so I was there by 5.10pm or 5.15pm at the latest. I went to reception and they had already done triage on the children,” he said.
If the hospital records and medical professionals are right, then the emergency call from the beach could not have come in much later than 4.45pm, still during the Israeli shelling.
From the number of shells counted beforehand by the survivors, Mr Garlasco, the former Pentagon analyst, believes the killer shell was one the army records as being fired at 4.34pm.
A military spokesman, Captain Jacob Dalal, said the army stood by its interpretation of timings.
Military investigators said shrapnel taken from wounded Palestinians treated in Israeli hospitals was not from 155mm shells fired that day.
“We know it’s not artillery,” said Capt Dalal. “We donít know what it is. It could be a shell of another sort or some other device.”
The military has suggested that the explosion was rigged by Hamas against possible army landings but Palestinian officials say that would only be an effective strategy if there were a series of mines or Hamas knew exactly where the Israelis would land.
Mr Garlasco said the metal taken from the victims may be detritus thrown up by the explosion or shards from cars torn apart by shrapnel. He said shrapnel collected at the site of the explosion by Human Rights Watch and the Palestinian police was fresh and from artillery shells.
The former Pentagon analyst said that after examining a blood-encrusted piece of shrapnel given to him by the father of a 19-year-old man wounded in the beach explosion, he determined it was a piece of fuse from an artillery shell.
“The likelihood that the Ghalia family was killed by an explosive other than one of the shells fired by the Israeli army is remote,” he said.
Capt Dalal defended the army’s investigation.
“We’re not trying to cover-up anything. We didn’t do the investigation to exonerate ourselves. If it was our fire, we’ll say it,” he said.
4.30 to 4.48pm: Six shells fired at beach
4.57pm: Video drone records calm on beach
4.57 to 5.10pm: Explosion kills Ghalia family
5.15pm: Drone records arrival of first ambulance
4.30 to 4.40pm: Two shells hit the beach
4.40 to 4.45pm: Explosion kills Ghalia family
4.45 to 4.50pm: Ambulance man receives emergency call
4.50pm: Ambulance leaves hospital for beach
4.55pm: Palestinian doctor called to hospital
5.05pm; First casualties arrive at hospital
5.12pm: Hospital computer records blood test of beach casualty
3 – Bil’in Unites in Solidarity With Gaza
By Sunbula and Jennie
Photos by Sunbula available at:
June 17th: Yet again, the people of Bil’in were joined in solidarity by international and Israeli peace activists on a Friday afternoon after midday prayers to protest the annexation of the village’s land by the illegal Apartheid Wall. The Israeli presence here is constant, and there is a camaraderie among the people here, sharing together a comfort that is almost surreal considering what we are about to face.
We gathered in front of the house where a few Internationals are staying, and made our way to the metal gate in front of the Wall where 2 hummers full of Israeli Border Police with guns and cameras were waiting. They knew to expect us and it was another Friday demo for those who participate weekly.
The theme of this Friday’s demonstration was the massacre on the Gaza sea shore where 7 members of the Ralia family were murdered by Israeli artillery fire. The demonstrators carried 7 mock open coffins to symbolize them and made a mock grave in front of the wall.
It was obvious today how the border police were there just to beat people. Everybody was committed to getting past the wall. We walked together down the road, and had a relatively quiet demo until the soldiers responded to a couple of stones thrown by the children. You have to understand that a stone, no matter how well thrown, is no match for the guns, sound bombs and tear gas which were the response from the soldiers. The mock graves were still successfully laid side by side next to the barrier.
A couple of people even managed to get amongst the Border Police jeeps and at times it seemed that they didn’t quite know what to do with such determined people. Nevertheless, they threw five or six sound bombs, one of which lightly injured Palestinian ISM activist Mohammad Mansour.
They also engaged in indiscriminate beating and shoving of protestors, including women and children, when they refused to move back.
A bunch of people responded by sitting down where they were and chanting. Some of them were forcibly picked up and manhandled by the soldiers.
A young man from the village received a rubber bullet in the side of his torso. As they have been doing in the past few weeks, after the protest was called off and people started to walk back to the village, the soldiers started firing tear gas cannisters at us. It seemed that they wanted to punish us for demonstrating, but an Israeli peace activist gave a more banal explanation: they need to expend all the tear gas earmarked in their budget for each demonstration otherwise it will appear later as if they weren’t doing their job properly! Overall though, the protest lasted longer and was a lot less violent than the protests of the past few Fridays.
I’ll quote what Mohammad said to me later: we are doing this for the Israeli children as much as for anyone else, so that they can play and swim together with our kids as one in the future, without thinking who is Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Arab or Israeli. It’s a simplistic thought but still a nice one to keep in the back of your mind when you’re here as an activist to remind yourself, in stressful situations, why you came here.
4 – ISM Brighton to Hold Freedom Summer Induction
Sunday 25th June – An Introduction to ISM’s 2006 Freedom Summer Campaign
1-4pm Friends Meeting House, Ship St, Brighton, UK
The International Solidraity Movement is a Palestinian led movement aimed at supporting non-violent Palestinian resistance. ISM is calling for international volunteers to join them in Palestine this Summer.
Come along to this introductory session hosted by ISM Brighton to find out more about ISM. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you’re coming.
More info on our website: ism.brightonpalestine.org
5 – Israeli Soldiers in Hebron Refuse to Prevent Attacks Against Palestinians, Internationals
Photos available at:
June 14th: At approximately 12:30 PM, two Human Rights Workers (HRWs) on Shuhada Street noticed a group of between 8 and 10 settlers boys between the ages of 9 and 12 carrying plastic bags filled with water. The boys were coming out of the Beit Hadassah settlement and were headed up the stone stairs towards Qurtoba, a Palestinian school building. The HRWs followed the boys to the stairs and were attacked with the bags of water. The soldier on duty at the Israeli military post spoke to the HRWs in Hebrew and made gestures for them to leave. The HRWs told the soldiers they only spoke English and asked him to get the kids to stop attacking them. The soldier did nothing and the children began throwing rocks at the HRWs.
The HRWs went to the top of the stone stairs where Palestinian workers were constructing a cement wall along the pathway toward the Qurtoba school. The HRWs asked them if they were having problems with the settlers and they said that rocks had been thrown at them. A soldier who spoke English told the HRWs to leave but because the kids who were throwing the rocks and bags of water were still present, the HRWs refused to leave.
The Palestinian workers informed the HRWs that they would be going on a lunch break and asked the HRWs to stay at the site because they were afraid the settlers would destroy the cement while it was still wet. The HRWs agreed to do so.
Soon thereafter a jeep with four soldiers arrived. One of them angrily confronted the HRWs and said that if they didn’t leave, that the police would be called. The HRWs agreed that that would be a good idea if the police were called considering the soldiers weren’t preventing the kids from throwing things. The solider said that they must leave because it was a Jewish-only place. One HRW informed this soldier that she, in fact, was Jewish and that she could thus remain. The soldier then insisted, “No, you are not Jewish.” The soldiers then threatened to arrest the HRWs and the two proceeded up the staircase a few feet.
After some time, the HRWs went back to Shuhada street following some of the same settlers who were acting suspiciously. As the HRWs were on the street, the solider approached them. One of the settler children followed behind him, hiding a very sharp pencil behind his back. It appeared as if he wanted to use this as a weapon against the HRWs.
At this point, the police arrived. They asked if anything was wrong and the HRWs informed them of the settler violence that had ensued. The HRWs, soldiers, and police talked for about 10 minutes. The policeman said a complaint could be filed if desired, otherwise- the HRWs weren’t allowed to film the soldiers. The HRWs informed that they were only filming because the settlers were throwing rocks and water–first at the Palestinian workers, and later at the HRWs themselves. After this, the police and soldiers left and a shift switch at the soldier post occurred.
Soon after, four settler kids entered the soldier’s post. One of the settlers emerged and lunged threateningly toward a Palestinian woman and her son as they began to walk down Shuhada street away from Beit Hadassah settlement. An HRWs shouted “Stop!” which frightened the settler children and caused them to move back into the soldier’s post.
Two settlers began throwing large rocks at the HRWs. The HRWs pleaded with the soldier to make the settlers stop, but he said, “No, I can’t!” The HRWs said that it was his job and he replied, “I don’t give a fuck about my job…Go back to England!” The settlers continued to throw many rocks at close range, attempting to steal the camera, and hitting one HRW with his fists. All of this happened as the solider watched, doing nothing. One of the HRWs was bleeding on her leg and arm. The police were called and the settlers stopped throwing rocks. When the HRW asked the police to come, they refused because the settlers had retreated. The police said they would only come if the settlers were still attacking- but the HRWs informed the police that the settler violence would start back up very shortly. Sure enough, as the phone call ended, the settlers began throwing rocks again.
Since the police would not help, the HRWs called Christian Peacemakers Teams (CPT) and Ecumenical Accompaniment Program for Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) and asked if they could come help. They agreed to come.
It should be pointed out now how absurd it was that the only people interested in trying to resolve and de-escalate the situation were unarmed human rights workers from EAPPI and CPT, instead of the people whose job it is to protect the population of the neighbourhood – the soldiers and police. Another HRW called the police again and the police said they would come only after they were informed that a female HRW was bleeding as a result of the attacks. A settler van arrived in front of Beit Hadassah and the settler boys got in and left.
About seven minutes later, a police jeep drove by but did not stop. An HRW followed the jeep on foot. She found it at Checkpoint 56 and told the police that the settlers had been extremely violent. The police officer suggested that she go to Kiryat Arba police station and file a complaint. She agreed to do so. At this point two women from CPT and seven members of EAPPI arrived.
At Kiryat Arba police station, the testimony took four hours to record. The police officer was sympathetic and appeared to be rather shocked at the video footage and especially at the soldier refusing to intervene. He found out who the soldier was and said he would speak to him.
Meanwhile, back in Tel Rumeida the CPT and EAPPI were informed about what had been happening, who the soldier was, and where the kids were throwing rocks. They were also were shown the wet cement that was recently constructed. The CPT remained at the checkpoint while the EAPPI toured Hebron.
The solider who was allowing the settlers to throw the rocks engaged in throwing stones at the settler kids, in a playful manner. In exchange, the settlers would then throw rocks from the parking lot below the pathway to Qurtoba school at the remaining HRWs above. The kids would hide behind the Israeli ambulance that was parked there, which the solider hit a few times as he threw his rocks at the settlers. A few Palestinians were escorted along Shuhada street because some of the stone-throwing settlers were still present.
The Palestinian workers returned and asked the HRWs to come back at 7am the following day to ensure there would be a presence there should the settlers return and harass them. The HRWs agreed.
As the situation calmed, the HRWs began to return home. As they walked past the checkpoint, they noticed four Palestinian women being detained. EAPPI and CPT were present as well. The two soldiers at the checkpoint weren’t allowing them to enter because they didn’t have the proper papers. One woman called her husband to bring her passport, which was an American passport. The HRWs tried to speak with the soldiers but they would not engage in conversation. One of the soldiers even pulled out his wire handcuffs and threatened to use them on one of the HRWs. The three other Palestinian women at the checkpoint who did not have their papers were refused entry. Dialogue with the soldiers was attempted by all the HRWs, but entry was still denied.
During all of this, a new regiment of soldiers was touring Hebron. One soldier informed an HRW that these new soldiers would be even harsher than the ones that had been present that day…Let us hope not, insha’allah!
6 – Fire Dancing in Hebron
Photos available at:
June 17th: Today, during the daytime, we were sitting near some Border Police. Sometimes they like to joke and be friendly with us. What follows actually happened: one of them TOOK OFF his helmet, flak jacket and gun, put them down next to us and started doing back flips and no handed cartwheels in front of us. He was showing off and it was quite amusing. He would have been in so much trouble if his commander had seen his gun laying on the ground!
There’s a new volunteer here from San Francisco. We know some of the same people and he also spins fire. We were able to put that to good use today in terms of nonviolent resistance.
We told the people in the neighborhood that we were going to give a fire performance tonight. During the day we practiced while out monitoring the streets.
At one point we were walking past the checkpoint, an often problematic area, and we noticed about 6 border police, including the guy who had done back flips and cartwheels for us earlier, detaining and mistreating to 5 Palestinian men who were our neighbors. There were about 6 adult settlers hanging around and we figured the border police were acting like this because the settlers had urged them to.
Anyhow, we decided to try to deescalate the situation with these border police at the checkpoint by being clowns.
My friend took out his juggling pins and I took out my fire chains. I announced to everyone present that there was now going to be a circus performance. So he started juggling and I started spinning the poi. We were being a little bit silly and ridiculous. After about 5 minutes we bowed and the Palestinians and one or two of the border police clapped. The settlers didn’t! But it seemed that everyone had lightened up and after about 5 minutes the police let the men go.
We stayed there for awhile longer because soon after, a new group of Palestinian men were detained and we did our routine again and they were only detained for maybe 15 minutes or so which is pretty good.
When it got dark, we lit our fire chains and did a performance for our neighbors. I have never had such an enthusiastic audience!
Maybe circus tricks will become a new strategy of nonviolent resistance to arrest…
7 – Counterpunch: “For Arabs Only – Israeli Law and Order”
by Jonathan Cook
Imagine the following scenario. A Palestinian gunman boards a bus inside Israel and rides it to the city of Netanya. Close to the end of the line, he walks over to the driver, levels his automatic rifle against the man’s head and pumps him with bullets. He turns and empties the rest of the magazine — one of 14 in his backpack — into the passenger behind the driver and two young women sitting across the gangway.
As bystanders in the street outside look on in horror, our gunman then reloads his weapon and sprays the bus with yet more fire, injuring 20 people. He approaches a woman huddled beneath a seat, trying to hide from him, lowers the gun to her head and pulls the trigger. The magazine is empty. As he tries to load a third clip, she grabs the burning barrel of the gun while other passengers rush him.
Seeing their chance, the onlookers storm the bus and fuelled by a mixture of passions — fury, indignation and fear of further attack — they beat the gunman to death.
As the news breaks, Israeli TV prefers to continue its coverage of a local football match rather report the killings. Later, when the channels do cover the deaths, they start by showing the picture of the gunman with the caption “God bless his soul” — in the same manner as they would normally relate to the victim of a terror attack.
Despite the Prime Minister denouncing the gunman as a terrorist to the world, domestically the media and police concentrate instead on the “lynch mob” who killed the gunman. The police launch a secretive investigation which after 10 months leads to the arrests of seven men on charges of murdering him, and the promise of more arrests to come. A police spokesman describes the men’s act against the gunman as one of “cold-blooded murder”.
Fanciful? Ridiculous? Well, exactly these events have unfolded in Israel over the past year — except that the location was not the Jewish city of Nentanya but the Arab town of Shafa’amr in the Galilee; the gunman was not a Palestinian but an Israeli soldier using his army-issue M-16; and the victims were not Israeli Jews but Israeli Arabs.
See how it now starts to make sense.
The killing of four Palestian citzens of Israel by the 19-year-old soldier Eden Natan Zada on 4 August last year, shortly before the disengagement from Gaza, has been quietly forgotten by the world. After the Arab victims were buried, the only question that concerned Israelis was who killed Zada. Yesterday they appeared to get their answer: seven men from Shafa’amr were rounded up by Israeli police to stand trial for his “cold-blooded” murder.
No one was interested in the official neglect of the families of Shafa’amr’s dead, all of whom were denied the large compensation payments given to Israeli victims of Palestinian terror. A ministerial committee ruled that, because Zada was a serving soldier, his attack could not be considered a terrorist incident. Apparently only Arabs can be terrorists. To this day the state has not given the families a penny of the compensation automatically awarded to Jewish families.
There was no investigation of why Zada, well-known for his extremist views, had been allowed to go AWOL for weeks from his unit without attempts to trace him. Or how his family’s repeated warnings that he had threatened to do something “terrible” to stop the disengagement had been ignored by the authorities. No one questioned why, a few days before his attack, the police had sent Zada away after he tried to hand in his gun.
Even more disturbingly, no one discussed why Zada, who openly belonged to a racist and outlawed movement, Kach, which demands the expulsion, if not eradication, of Arabs from the Holy Land, had been allowed to serve in the army. How had he and thousands of other Kach supporters been left in peace to promote their obscene ideas? Why were these Kach activists, mostly young Israelis, demonstrating openly against the Gaza disengagement, assaulting policemen and soldiers, when the group was supposedly underground?
And why did the authorities not round up and question Zada’s Kach friends in his West Bank settlement of Tapuah after the attack? Why was their possible involvement in its planning never considered, nor their role in inciting him to his deed?
The point was that the Israeli authorities wanted Zada to be dismissed as a lone, crazy gunman — like Baruch Goldstein before him, the army doctor who in 1994 opened fire in the Palestinian city of Hebron, killing 29 Muslim worshippers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and wounding 125 others.
Although Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister then, denounced Goldstein as an “errant weed”, a shrine and park was built for him nearby, in the settlement of Kiryat Arba, venerating him as a “saint” and “a righteous and holy man”. Far from being isolated, his shrine regularly attracts thousands of Israeli Jews who congregate deep in Palestinian territority to honour him.
Instead of seeking out and eradicating this growing strain of Jewish fundamentalism in the wake of the Shafa’amr terror attack, Israel claimed that finding and punishing the men who killed Zada was the priority. It was a matter of law and order, said Dan Ronen, the police force’s northern commander. He told the Hebrew media: “In a country with law and order, despite the sensitivity, people can’t do whatever they see fit. I hope the Arab sector will display maturity and responsibility.”
This sounds like an outrageous double standard to the citizens of Shafa’amr, and to the country’s more than one million Palestinian citizens. Enforcing the law has never been a major consideration when the offenders are Jewish and the victims are Arabs, even when the killings occur inside Israel.
Arab citizens have not forgotten the massacre of 49 men, women and children by a unit of soldiers who enforced a last-minute curfew on the Israeli village of Kfar Qassem in 1956, executing the villagers — Arabs, of course — at the checkpoint one by one as they innocently returned home from a day’s work in the fields.
During their trial, the Haaretz newspaper reported that the soldiers received a 50 per cent pay increase and that it was obvious the men were “not treated as criminals but as heroes”. Found guilty of an “administrative error”, the commander was given a one penny fine.
Nor was anyone held to account when six unarmed Arab citizens were shot dead by the security services in the Galilean town of Sakhnin in 1976 as they protested against another wave of land confiscations that deprived rural Arab communities of their farm land. The prime minister of the day, Rabin again, refused even to launch an investigation.
Some 25 years later, an inquiry was held into the killing by the police of 13 unarmed Arabs in the Galilee in October 2000 as they protested the deaths of Palestinians at the Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem — the trigger for the intifada. Six years on, however, not a single policeman has been charged over the deaths inside Israel. Even the commanders who illegally authorised the use of an anti-terror sniper unit against demonstrators armed only with stones have not been punished.
Israel’s Arab citizens are also more than familiar with the story of the “Bus 300 affair” of 1984, when two Palestinian gunmen from the occupied territories were captured after hijacking a bus inside Israel. Led away in handcuffs by the Shin Bet security service, the two men were later reported dead.
No one was ever charged over the killings, even though it was widely known at the time who had killed the men and later one senior Shin Bet operative, Ehud Yatom, admitted breaking the men’s skulls with a rock. In 1986, to forestall the threat of any indictments, the president of the day, Chaim Herzog, gave all the Shin Bet agents involved an amnesty from prosecution.
If it is shown in court that Zada was in fact beaten to death after the crowd knew he had been restrained, then this history — of the state’s repeated denial of justice to the Arab victims of its violence — must be taken into account. No one can reasonably have expected the onlookers to stay calm knowing that Zada, like other Jewish emissaries of the state before him, would receive either no punishment or a few years of jail and a pardon because he killed Arabs rather than Jews.
Israel has shown time and again that it selectively enforces law and order, depending on the ethnicity of killer and victim.
Commander Ronen observed at a press conference after the Shafa’amr arrests: “Since October 2000 we have come a long way in our relations with the Arab sector.” If that is true, which is doubtful, the authorites have again made every effort to tear apart what little is left of that trust.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the author of the forthcoming ” Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State” published by Pluto Press, and available in the United States from the University of Michigan Press. His website is www.jkcook.net
8 – Haaretz: No Scanning Machines, No Arabs!
“Rights groups petition PM to stop ‘Jews only’ flight from north”
by Zohar Blumenkrantz and Jack Khory, Haaretz, 14th Jun 2006
The Adalah Legal Center on Wednesday demanded Prime Minister Ehud Olmert immediately rescind a Shin Bet order barring Arabs from traveling on flights from Rosh Pina and Kiryat Shmono in the north, to Tel Aviv in the center of the country.
An investigation by Haaretz has revealed that there is a Jewish passengers only policy on these flights.
The Transportation Ministry, acting on instruction from the Shin Bet security service, decided that Arabs would not be allowed on the flights following a financial dispute that prevented the use of luggage scanning machines in airports in the north.
Adalah, a center for Arab minority rights in Israel, also requested that Olmert and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz expose to the public all other Shin Bet instructions having to do with security checks at airports.
The center for the struggle against racism has also petitioned Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to cancel immediately the Transportation Ministry’s decision.
Both rights groups are considering asking the High Court of Justice to close airports that do not agree to allow Arab citizens board flights.
The flights from the north to the center of the country are operated by Tamir Flights, which won a Transportation Ministry tender in March. To operate the flights, the company bought a scanning machine, to inspect passengers’ suitcases and carry-on items.
The machine was to have been placed at the new terminal in Kiryat Shmona, but a difference of opinion over the use of the terminal has ensued between Tamir Flights, the Transportation and Industry and Trade Ministries, as well as the Kiryat Shmona municipality.
In April, the Industry and Trade Ministry stopped funding providing the NIS 30,000 monthly cost for security for the building, saying, “The new operator must bear responsibility for securing both the the equipment and the building.” As a result, the necessary security checks are not conducted, and non-Jewish passengers are not allowed to board flights.
Udi Tamir, one of Tamir Flight’s owners, confirmed Tuesday that non-Jews are not permitted on flights, saying he cannot allow all passengers on flights, because there is no scanning machine at the airport in Kiryat Shmona. Tamir added that he is operating according to security forces’ instructions.
According to the Transportation Ministry, “This is not discrimination, but a technical malfunction. We are trying to find an immediate solution that will permit all of the country’s citizens to fly from northern Israel, without restrictions.”
9 – Chicago Tribune: “Palestinian issue dominates Caterpillar meeting”
By James P. Miller, Tribune staff reporter, Published June 15, 2006
Caterpillar Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Owens told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Wednesday that because the heavy-equipment giant has “strong economic winds at our back,” prospects for continued growth appear promising.
Owens clearly wanted to discuss the record earnings the Peoria-based company has recorded in each of the past two years because of a worldwide surge in commodity prices and the company’s strategy for coming years.
To his obvious frustration, however, with the exception of his prepared remarks the stockholder meeting held in downtown Chicago was devoted almost entirely to a discussion about geopolitics.
Although Caterpillar’s earthmoving equipment, mining trucks and other products are made for peaceful applications, opponents of Israel’s Palestinian policies have focused on the fact that Caterpillar sells bulldozers to Israel and that Israeli military forces use them to demolish Palestinian homes and property.
For more than two years, those opponents have made Caterpillar the focus of a high-profile public relations campaign.
As was the case at last year’s shareholder gathering, the street outside Wednesday’s meeting site was thronged with protesters holding signs that condemned Caterpillar. Counterprotesters, meanwhile, told passersby that the attacks on Caterpillar were “anti-Israel propaganda.”
The issue is a hot button only for a small minority: At last year’s meeting, 97 percent of shareholders voted down a proposal that called for the company to review its sale of bulldozers to the Israeli government. There was no similar proposal on this year’s agenda, but the topic dominated the meeting nonetheless.
More than a dozen people stepped to the microphone to call the company to task for selling equipment to Israel.
The first up was Craig Corrie, a Washington state resident whose daughter Rachel died in 2003 after being crushed by an Israeli bulldozer as she sought to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home.
“Maybe you don’t want to choose sides,” Corrie argued quietly while Owens listened from the podium, but by selling the equipment to Israel, he said, “you’re choosing the side that uses these machines as a weapon.”
Before the meeting ended, many more people, including Rachel Corrie’s mother, took the floor to send the same message.
At one point, a representative from a pro-Israel group addressed the restless stockholders, saying, “We knew this meeting would be used as a platform for politics,” and urging the crowd to “get both sides of the story” on the issue.
Another stockholder complained that the meeting was being “hijacked” by people with a non-business agenda.
Caterpillar has argued it doesn’t have the right, or the means, to police how buyers use its bulldozers.
Owens emphasized at one point late in the meeting that “99.995 percent of our products are used for peaceful, constructive purposes.”
Shareholders voted down a number of corporate-governance proposals that management had opposed. Perhaps the most interesting vote involved a proposal that would require director nominees to receive a majority of votes to win their seats, rather than a simple plurality. Such measures, designed to make boards more accountable, have been proposed with increasing frequency in recent years.
The proposal was put forward at last year’s meeting, but 68 percent of shareholders voted against it. This year, the vote was dramatically closer, with 46 percent opposed and 42 percent in favor.
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