Israeli MPs try to assault Haneen Zoabi

This 9-minute video, showing Israeli Jewish MPs’ reaction to a speech by Haneen Zoabi today, offers a very revealing insight into how Israel’s tribal democracy works. And it isn’t pretty.

Even in the British parliament, which is imploding at the moment, it is impossible to imagine scenes like these.

Zoabi made the speech after Israel agreed this week very belatedly to pay compensation to the families of nine humanitarian activists killed by Israeli commandos in 2010 on the Mavi Marmara, as it plied international waters on its way to deliver aid to Gaza. In fact, it would be more accurate to say Israel assassinated the activists, as a way to deter others from following in their wake.

The Marmara was a Turkish vessel and the compensation was part of Israel’s reconciliation deal with Turkey.

Zoabi was the only Israeli MP on the ship, and was accused of treason by Knesset members for participating in the aid flotilla. She became public enemy number one and received many death threats at the time, including some barely veiled ones from Jewish MPs.

All the exchanges in this video are in Hebrew, but that doesn’t really matter. You don’t need to understand the language to understand what is going on. One Jewish MP, Oren Hazan, of Netanyahu’s Likud party, heckles Zoabi non-stop for more than four minutes, with the Speaker doing nothing more than politely asking him to calm down and refrain from interrupting.

Remember that Palestinians MPs are regularly ejected from the Knesset for far less than this kind of barracking and violation of parliamentary protocol. Notice also that the Knesset TV spends as much time, if not more, focusing on the heckler than Zoabi, implicitly legitimising his anti-democratic behaviour.

But when Zoabi accuses the soldiers of “murder” at about 4.30-min into the video, all hell breaks loose. A dozen or more Jewish MPs rush to the podium and start circling Zoabi like a pack of baying hyenas. By this stage, when Zoabi is being physically threatened by a number of MPs in the parliament chamber, you might think it would be time for some of them to be forcefully ejected, if only to indicate that this subversion of the democratic process will not be tolerated. But not a bit of it. They are treated with kid gloves.

The Knesset guards simply try to block the violent Jewish MPs from reaching the single Palestinian MP in their sights, presumably fearful that were she to be physically assaulted that might make headline news and make Israel look bad.

Paradoxically, the only MP you can see on the film being pushed out of the Knesset chamber is Zoabi’s party leader, Jamal Zahalka, who from the look of things is interceding because he’s worried she is in danger. Hazan was finally removed, though after more than eight minutes of heckling, threats and belligerence.

Another paradox: Zoabi and her fellow party MPs have only recently been allowed to speak in the Knesset again, after the ethics committee (dominated by Jewish MPs) suspended them for several months because of their “unacceptable” political views.

I doubt very much that any of these Jewish MPs, even though they have threatened and tried to physically harm another MP, one from the wrong tribe, will suffer any consequences at all for their behaviour.

Zoabi said in her speech: “I stood here six years ago, some of you remember the hatred and hostility toward me, and look where we got to. Apologies to the families of those who were called terrorists. The nine that were killed, it turns out that their families need to be compensated. I demand an apology to all the political activists who were on the Marmara and an apology to MK Haneen Zoabi, who you’ve incited against for six years. I demand compensation and I will donate it to the next flotilla. As long as there’s a siege, more flotillas need to be organized.”

In addition to the violent reception from MPs visible on film, there was widespread incitement from other MPs. Michael Oren, who a while back was Israel’s ambassador to the US, sounded like Avigdor Lieberman as he said Zoabi’s speech proved she was not loyal and should be permanently stripped of her parliamentary status, under a soon-to-be-passed Suspension Law.

In true colonial style, the government’s chief whip, David Bitan, was reported to have told Palestinian voters in Israel after Zoabi’s speech: “We need to make sure she doesn’t stay in the Knesset. We’ve had enough of this and she doesn’t even represent you properly.”

Jonathan Cook

Israel can’t avoid the fallout from a disunited Europe


There were no tears shed in the Israeli government over Britain’s vote last month to leave the European Union. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli right blame Europe for many of Israel’s woes.

Internal wrangles about how to manage Brexit, they hope, will shift member states’ focus away from criticising Israel. The longer-term fallout could be a clamour from voters in other European countries to follow Britain’s lead. A weakened Europe, according to this theory, will be less effective as a counterweight to Washington, which invariably prefers Israel’s interests.

As an added bonus, a Europe with an uncertain future, and one where nativist sentiment makes identifiable minorities less welcome, could be boon to those, such as Mr Netanyahu, who believe Israel is the only true home for Jews.

Committed to beating the Palestinians in a battle of numbers, Mr Netanyahu already exploits every terror attack in Europe to urge Jews to move to Israel. Now he can milk rising racism too.

For these reasons Regavim, an organisation representing the illegal Jewish colonies in the occupied territories that enjoys close ties to the Netanyahu government, campaigned loudly for British Jews to back Brexit.

Sensing the danger, British prime minister David Cameron reassured the Jewish community shortly before the June 23 vote that Britain was “Israel’s greatest friend” and would be “powerless” to help if it left the EU.

The Israeli right is almost certainly misreading developments in Europe and beyond.

True, the EU has been a thorn in Mr Netanyahu’s side, especially since his government effectively quashed the Oslo peace process. Europe leads the diplomatic opposition to the settlements, and is introducing a labelling system to identify settler products.

Also, last month the French tried to revive the moribund peace process by dragging it out of Washington’s orbit. Later this year a Paris summit may give Europe the chance to embarrass Mr Netanyahu.

But the deeper reality is that the EU has been a loyal friend to Israel, and one almost as central to preserving its strategic interests as the United States.

The labelling of a few settlement items has done nothing to dent Europe’s role as Israel’s largest trading partner. While Washington has watched Israel’s back with military aid and tireless diplomatic support, the EU has created an economic haven for Israeli goods.

Trade, worth $5 billion (Dh18.4bn), has doubled in the past decade. Israel also benefits from important EU research grants and cooperative projects.

In addition, Europe foots much of the bill for Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, effectively underwriting the costs of Israel’s occupation.

All of this would be in jeopardy if the Israeli right’s fantasy – of an EU collapse – actually occurred. But assuming the EU survives Brexit relatively unscathed, Britain’s absence will nonetheless be felt by Israel, as Mr Cameron warned.

Since the end of the Second World War, Britain has been Washington’s key ally in Europe – its eyes and ears. With Britain out of the EU, Washington fears its influence in the region will be diminished.

Calmer heads in Israel agree. They warn that EU countries more critical of Israel, especially Sweden, Ireland and Slovenia, will soon have a greater weight in discussions about whether and how to sanction Israel.

But Brexit should be a wake-up call to Israel for another reason. It is the latest symptom of a backlash among western voters against political elites seen as distant and unaccountable.

The anger has been directed not only at supranational bodies such as the EU but at domestic politics too. It is reflected in polarised debates about issues that were once embraced by a safe consensus, as well as the rise of radical challengers, of the right and left, to the old order.

In Britain, the established left and right are beset by insurrections: Jeremy Corbyn has fought to make the Labour Party more accountable to its base, while the right has been destabilised by the rapid rise of the anti-immigrant party, UKIP.

Parallel developments are obvious in other European states – and in the United States. Donald Trump successfully smashed the rule of the Republican establishment, and Bernie Sanders came within a hair’s breadth of doing the same to the Democrats.

This has revived an interest in politics among those who long felt disempowered. In the long run, that can only be harmful to Israel.

Surveys have repeatedly shown that western voters deeply distrust Israel, with only North Korea and Iran more disliked. The conflict with the Palestinians is seen as a sore fuelling an Islamic extremism that poses an ever greater threat.

The grass roots boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has bypassed local politicians. It is slowly turning the Palestinians into a cause for international solidarity equivalent to the popular campaign against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s.

Brexit is a warning sign that western leaders will pay a price if they continue overlooking popular concerns. Israel would be foolish to assume that it can remain immune indefinitely from the upheavals consuming Europe and the US.

Jonathan Cook/The Nation

Israeli Army Injures A Child, Kidnap Two Persons In Bethlehem


Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, Beit Fajjar town, and Aida refugee camp, in the West Bank district of Bethlehem, shot and injured a Palestinian child, and kidnapped two young men.

Several military vehicles invaded Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem, violently searched many homes, interrogated many Palestinians and kidnapped two.

The Bethlehem office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the two kidnapped Palestinians have been identified as Fares Khader Zreina, 20, and Mohammad Khaled al-Kurdi, 19.

The soldiers also occupied many rooftops, fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at Palestinians who hurled stones and empty bottles at the military vehicles.

In addition, the army invaded Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem, clashed with many youngsters, who hurled stones and empty bottles at the military vehicles, while the soldiers fired several live rounds, gas bombs, and rubber-coated steel bullets.

Medical sources in the town said a child, 16, was shot with a live round in his leg, while many other Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.


Army Kidnaps Two Palestinians In Nablus And Tubas


The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Tuesday at dawn, two Palestinians in the West Bank district of Nablus and Tubas.

The PPS said the soldiers invaded a home in the al-Makhfeyya neighborhood, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and kidnapped Sharhabeel Ahmad Awwad, 31, after searching his property.

In Tubas, in central West Bank, the soldiers kidnapped a young man, identified as Abada Daraghma, after stopping him in the center of the city, after the army invaded it.

In addition, the army invaded Bani Neim town, east of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and kidnapped one Palestinian. The soldiers also delivered a demolition order to a family in the town.

Also at dawn, the soldiers invaded Beit Fajjar town and Aida refugee camp, in the West Bank district of Bethlehem, shot and injured a child, and kidnapped two young men.


Army Kidnaps Six Palestinians In Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, on Tuesday at dawn, at least six Palestinians in different parts of occupied East Jerusalem, and took them to a number of interrogation facilities, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported.

Silwanic said that the soldiers kidnapped Odai Gheith, 16, and Eyad Gheith, 16, after invading and searching their homes in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The soldiers also invaded Qalandia refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, and kidnapped a young man, identified as Abdul-Rahman az-Zeer, from his home.

Two Palestinians were also kidnapped at dawn, in Bab al-‘Amoud, one of the gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Hizma town, north of Jerusalem. Their names remained unknown until the time of this report.

Furthermore, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Tuesday at dawn, two Palestinians in the West Bank district of Nablus and Tubas.

In addition, the army invaded Bani Neim town, east of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and kidnapped one Palestinian. The soldiers also delivered a demolition order to a family in the town.

Also at dawn, the soldiers invaded Beit Fajjar town and Aida refugee camp, in the West Bank district of Bethlehem, shot and injured a child, and kidnapped two young men.



Jail terms extended for seven Palestinian teens held without charge or trial


Ramallah, July 2, 2016—Abdul-Rahman Kmail was hit with a four-month extension to his administrative detention order on June 11. He was only 15 years old when he was incarcerated without charge or trial five months ago.

During Kmail’s 15-minutes of questioning at Salem military base, near the West Bank city of Jenin, he admitted to telling his friends “a lie that I wanted to stab an Israeli soldier, but I never had the intention to do so.”

The Israeli interrogator also asked Kmail if he knew the three Palestinians from his hometown of Qabatiya, south of Jenin, that carried out an attack against Israeli police officers just outside Jerusalem’s Old City on February 3. “I told him I did not know them and I had nothing to do with them,” Kmail said.

When asked if he had thrown any stones, Kmail also denied that accusation.

Over some thoughts that Kmail, now 16, had shared with friends and admitted to his interrogator without knowing his right to silence or consulting an attorney, he faces an indefinite term behind bars.

At least six other teenagers find themselves in similar circumstances to Kmail, each having received renewals to their administrative detention order in June.

Administrative detention permits military commanders or government officials to incarcerate individuals without charge or trial based on secret evidence.

“We’re disturbed by Israel’s renewed use of administrative detention against Palestinian children,” said Brad Parker, attorney and international advocacy officer at Defense for Children International – Palestine. “Jailing children without charge or trial for indefinite periods amounts to unlawful and arbitrary detention. Israel should either charge these children, and grant them their due process rights, or immediately release them.”

The longest extension of six months was handed down to Mohammad Abu al-Rob, 17, also from Qabatiya. And, much like Kmail, Abu al-Rob was accused of wanting to stab a soldier, but had not carried out an attack when he was arrested on February 7.

Abu al-Rob told DCIP that his questioning at Salem was brief: “He [the interrogator] just asked me if I had the intention to stab a soldier, and I denied it. He repeated the question several times, and that’s it.”

If the appeal before an Israeli military court to reduce the term of his administrative detention fails, Abu al-Rob will turn 18 while incarcerated and lose his protected status as a minor. A precarious situation that Mohammad Dairieh, from Bethlehem, now faces having turned 18 a month into his four-month administrative detention order.

International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, demand that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort and must not be unlawfully or arbitrarily detained.

Since unrest broke out in October last year, DCIP has documented the use of administrative detention against 16 Palestinian children. The Israel Prison Service’s latest data showed that it had 13 Palestinian children under administrative detention in April.

In the occupied West Bank, where military law applies to the Palestinian population only, Israeli Military Order 1651 permits administrative detention for up to six months, subject to indefinite renewals. Prior to October, Israel had not held a Palestinian child from the West Bank under administrative detention since December 2011.

Israeli authorities rely on the Emergency Powers Law to authorize the use of administrative detention in Jerusalem.

Up until October 2015, DCIP had never documented cases of administrative detention for Palestinian children from East Jerusalem. That month, the measure was used against three East Jerusalem youths. Each spent three months in jail without charge.

In December 2015, Israeli authorities issued a six-month administrative detention order against a fourth Jerusalem youth, 17-year-old Mohammad Hashlamoun.

Hashlamoun was denied access to an attorney, and subjected to repeated prolonged interrogation sessions while being held in solitary confinement for 22 days. He denied accusations that he was planning to carry out unspecified future attacks, even when the interrogator threatened to have his family home demolished.

“The last time I appeared in the magistrates’ court in Jerusalem, the court decided to release me on bail,” Mohammad told DCIP. “But before my family could post the bail, an intelligence officer came to the detention center and asked me to sign a document stating that I had received an order of administrative detention.”

The administrative detention order against Hashlamoun expired on June 20. Israeli authorities released him without filing any charges against him.

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year that lack fundamental fair trial rights.

DCIP considers all persons below the age of 18 to be children in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.


‘I hope that peace will be here’: 10yo girl reports from West Bank to highlight her people’s plight


Janna is not your average Palestinian child. While other kids are happily playing, the 10-year-old prefers to take her camera and report from the front lines of demonstrations in the West Bank as she tries to bring Palestine’s plight to a wider audience.

Janna Jihad, as she is known, is something of a veteran. She began her reporting career at the age of seven.

“There were not enough journalists covering things that happened, like when my friend was killed and when lots of people were injured. Others were arrested and things like that, and it was not reported by anybody,” she told RT.

Janna was referring to the death of her cousin Mustafa, who was killed by a gas canister, while one of her uncles, Rushdie Tamimi, also died after being shot in the stomach by a bullet that pierced his kidney.

It is no coincidence that Janna became interested in journalism, as her Uncle Bilal is a photographer who has captured the violent methods used by Israeli soldiers in the village of Nabi Saleh where they both live.

Just when you thought this mercurial child couldn’t have any more surprises up her sleeve, well she does. Not content with just reporting in her native Arabic, she also produces material in English, which she has learnt while studying at school.

“I report in English because English is the world language and I can send my message to the whole world,” she mentioned.

Janna, who is in the fourth grade, takes her school work very seriously and would not contemplate missing lessons in order to film material for her blog or reports.

“After school I can go and make a report on any village or any place, but my future is my school and if I don’t learn about my history, there will never be freedom, there will never be peace and children in Palestine will not be able to live like those around the world,” she told RT.

We smelled a lot of gas

Reporting from demonstrations and protests can be a dangerous occupation, especially when one takes the heightened tensions between the Palestinians and Israeli security forces into account. Janna admits that her size and age makes it easy for her to avoid the soldiers, but says she’s had a few brushes with trouble all the same.

She recalls a protest when Palestinians were trying to reach a spring, but were pushed back by Israeli troops.

“The army began to target us with tear gas, and I felt that we were in a cloud of tear gas. It was a very difficult time for us. We smelled a lot of gas,” she said. “In the end we were able to run away, but it was very difficult.” 

Like any good journalists, Janna learns from her experience and showed an RT film crew some of the essential pieces of equipment she carries with her – like remedies to help her combat the effects of tear gas.

One video in particular shows the brutal world that Janna exists in. She is standing next to a young boy just a year younger than her who is lying on the ground motionless.

“He has been hit by a rocket,” Janna explains in her report.

Janna’s message is one of peace – something that she hopes will eventually come to Palestine.

“Our God promised us that Palestine would be free one day. I hope that peace will be here and Palestine will be like the whole world,” she explained, recalling all the bloodshed and killings that have taken place in recent times.

Janna has had to grow up quickly, and some would say too quickly. The fourth grader admits that she would prefer to be playing with her friends and would rather not “be in a field where there is shooting or killing.”

However, she has had to adjust to her surroundings. After she finished speaking to RT, the film crew followed her outside as she approached a group of heavily armed Israeli soldiers. Not even the apparent sound of gunfire could put her off as she approached them to deliver a message.

“Why do come in the night? I can’t sleep at night because you are coming every night.”


Turkish aid ship reaches Gaza following reconciliation deal with Israel

Turkish ship

The first Turkish ship with humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip arrived in Israel a week after Turkey and Israel reached an agreement normalizing their diplomatic relations that were suspended in 2010 after a deadly IDF raid against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

The Lady Leyla container vessel, carrying more than 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip, reached the Israeli port of Ashod after departing on Friday from the Turkish city Mersin, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported Sunday. It took Lady Leyla 35 hours to reach its destination, the agency added.

The delivery, which comes days ahead of the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, includes food packages, toys, clothes and shoes to the people in Gaza, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority.

Diplomatic ties between the two countries suffered a setback after an incident in 2010 when Israeli troops attacked the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara aid ship in international waters, killing eight Turkish and one Turkish-American activists.

The six ships sent by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH) were carrying humanitarian and construction supplies to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his regret for the attack as long ago as 2013, but it has taken three years to normalize diplomatic relations. The agreement was brokered with the help of the US.

Under the deal, Israel will agree to Turkey’s humanitarian presence in Gaza, which among other things involves the completion of a hospital in the Palestinian enclave and the construction of a new power station as well as a plant for desalination of water, local media reported.

Israel rendered an apology and will also pay $20 million in compensation to a special fund dedicated to the families of the victims killed by the IDF soldiers.

Turkey agreed to pass a law that would put an end to lawsuits from the families of the victims killed in the raid. It also demanded that Israel lift the Gaza blockade, but Israel refused to fulfill this condition.


Israeli forces launch airstrikes on several sites in Gaza

gaza attacks

Israeli forces in the early morning on Saturday launched airstrikes at several sites allegedly used by Palestinian political factions in the besieged Gaza Strip in response to a rocket fired from the small Palestinian territory into an Israeli city Friday evening, Israeli and local sources said. Local sources said Israeli warplanes launched rockets at two sites reportedly used by the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, in the southern part of Gaza City, and targeted missiles at five other locations allegedly used by the al-Qassam Brigades and the al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad. Missiles struck a site in Beit Lahiya, a blacksmith workshop in the neighborhood of Zaytoun, a site near the al-Irsal tower east of Jabaliya, empty land near an al-Quds Brigades’ site northwest of Beit Lahiya, and a shed near an agricultural college east of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, according to locals.

However, an Israeli army statement reported that the Israeli army targeted four locations in the northern and central Gaza Strip that were “components of Hamas’ operational infrastructure.”
No injuries were reported, despite heavy property damage. The statement said that the airstrikes on the besieged enclave were in response to a rocket launched from Gaza on Friday evening at southern Israel, striking the Israeli city of Sderot and causing damage to a building. Israel holds the Hamas movement responsible for all rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, although other Palestinian militant groups are active in the small Palestinian enclave.Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner said that the rocket attack in Sderot was a “horrific reminder of the intentions of terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip to target communities, people, men women and children.”
The Israeli airstrikes come some two months after an upturn in violence in the besieged enclave, as Israeli forces sustained airstrikes in Gaza for several consecutive days in May, allegedly in response to cross-border mortar shelling and a rocket being fired from the Gaza Strip during Israeli operations inside the borders of the small territory to uncover Hamas-built tunnels.

The majority of the more than 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to a near-decade long military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border.

The crippling blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip and Fatah in control of the occupied West Bank.

PFLP warns of dangerous Turkish-Israeli agreement built on looting the natural gas of the Palestinian people

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine notes that the Turkish-Israeli agreement for “normalization of relations” between the two countries is a suspicious and threatening agreement, indicating a development in relations and strategic cooperation that rests on a history of long-standing relations since the declaration of the occupation state.

The Front noted that the agreement reflects the interests and priorities of the Erdogan government, which never broke its economic, military or security ties with “Israel” despite the misinformation and Turkish official propaganda that sought to tie the normalization of relations between the states to an end to the siege of the Gaza Strip. This was a deceptive attempt to play the Palestinian card in the framework of regional conflicts, especially with the outbreak of the so-called “Arab spring.”

The Front noted that the Israeli-Turkish agreement stems from the necessity to forge a regional alliance for economic and strategic interests, especially around the subject of natural gas development and their common political role in the region. This reality refutes the Turkish official claims regarding the siege on Gaza, which have now been forgotten as a relic of the past.

The Front calls on the Palestinian factions to unite to face the dangers posed by this new alliance, which is part of the siege on the forces of resistance in the region, especially the Palestinian resistance.

Palestinian leftist writer Comrade Khaled Barakat said that “the bilateral relations between Turkey and the Zionist state are deep and abiding, going beyond the phrases of ‘normalization’ or ‘restoration of relations.’”

He noted that the volume of trade between the states did not decrease in the last period, but rather doubled in the recent era. “The functional alliance between Turkey and the Zionist entity works to oppose any Arab revolutionary advancement in the region, especially that which seeks to return the compass to confrontation of the Zionist state and its schemes to loot the natural gas of the Palestinian people. This is an $800 billion partnership, which is far more valuable to the Turkish bourgeoisie and the Zionist entity, than all of the Arab people.”

“At a time when the Palestinian people are urging a boycott of the Zionist state, Erdogan is strengthening his ties with the Zionists at the expense of the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza,” Barakat said.

He noted that the boycott movement in Turkey will be issuing a call in the coming days to build a movement in Turkey to reject the gas deal and normalization, in particular the partnership in the looting of the natural gas of occupied Palestine, which is the property of the Palestinian people and its rightful national wealth.