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Why Israel’s Gilboa Prison Break has Palestanians Celebrating

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/09/2021 - 3:39am in

GILBOA PRISON, PALESTINE — It is said that Palestinians are the most incarcerated people in the world. Rarely does one find a Palestinian who has not been a victim of the Israeli prison system and when one does find one such person, he or she will have a sibling, parent or another close relative who serves or has served time in an Israeli prison. Opportunities for Palestinians to celebrate as a nation are few and far between. When the news broke of the escape of six high-profile Palestinian prisoners from one of Israel’s most secure prisons, it was a reason to celebrate. This was a reason not only for Palestinians to celebrate but indeed for all people who believe in justice and freedom.

This escape, which Reuters described as a “Hollywood-style escape,” was a daring and courageous operation. It had Palestinians celebrating in the streets and provides the Palestinian Authority and the countries that surround Palestine an opportunity to demonstrate to whom they are loyal. The world will see whether they will support the efforts of the oppressor to catch the freed political prisoners or support the cause of freedom and help these six brave men find safety.

Gilboa prison Break

A guard stands at northern Israel’s notorious Gilboa prison, Sept. 6, 2021. Sebastian Scheiner | A{P

 

The prison

Gilboa Prison is located in northeastern Palestine in what used to be known as the Baisan District. It is a beautiful and very fertile region and home to some of Israel’s most prosperous settlements, many of them established prior to 1948.

According to Addameer, the Palestinian prisoner support and human rights association, Gilboa Prison was established in 2004 next to Shatta Prison in the Baisan area. It is a high-security prison described as “the most intensely secured of its kind where occupation authorities incarcerate Palestinian prisoners.”

According to a report by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, at Gilboa Prison every group of six “security prisoners” is housed in cells that are 22 square meters (c. 230 square feet) in size, including a shared toilet and bathroom. The cells contain three bunk beds and the inmates are unable to maintain social distancing. The beds are situated less than 1.5 meters from each other and the top bunks are positioned just 80 centimeters (c. 30 inches) above the bottom bunks.

Gruesome Details Emerge of Israel’s Torture of Palestinian Prisoners

 

The Israeli security apparatus fails

The ineptitude of the Israeli security apparatus is well known, although it is not often publicized. Now the entire Israeli security system is desperately trying to come to grips with this breach of security and enormously embarrassing failure. The circumstances of the escape seep slowly to the press and show an enormous hole, no pun intended, in the system. The few details that have emerged through the Israeli press reveal human error, carelessness, and perhaps even the help of officers within the prison, which all led to the success of the prison break.


A hole in a floor is seen after six Palestinian prisoners escaped from the Gilboa prison in north Israel, Sept. 6, 2021. Photo | Israeli Prisons Service via AP

Initially, it was reported that the tunnel through which the prisoners escaped was structural, or part of the prison. Later, it was reported that it had apparently been dug over a five-month period, and then the reports claimed it took an entire year of planning. Then, the guard who was supposed to look over the area where the tunnel entrance was located was asleep while on duty and the prison guards at the command center, where several computer screens show images of every inch of the prison, were just not paying attention.

To add to that, prison authorities were not aware that the prisoners had escaped until several hours after the escape. It began when a civilian called the police and reported seeing “suspicious” looking men crossing a field. It took a couple of hours before the prison was notified and then apparently some time elapsed before the prison authorities realized that the six men were gone. In other words, the prisoners had a head start of several hours before authorities began searching for them, which means they could be anywhere in, or even out of, the country.

As these words are being written, several days have passed since the prisoners escaped and all that the Israeli authorities have been able to accomplish is to ignite riots within the various prisons that hold Palestinians and intense riots throughout Palestine. Jenin, which is the home of all six men, is particularly celebratory and the Jenin Refugee Camp is sealed off by armed Palestinian resistance fighters, keeping the Israeli military and others who might collaborate with the Israeli authorities out.

It has also been reported in the Israel press that four of the six had tried to escape before and were categorized as “high risk of escape.” Still, they were placed together in the same cell.

The Israeli Defense Forces: The Most Inept Army in the World

 

The Six

Zakaria Zubeidi is the one Palestinian prisoner who is well known both locally and internationally. He is featured in the film Arna’s Children. The movie was directed by Juliano Mer-Khamis, who documented a number of promising child actors in a theatre group he founded with his mother, Arna, at the Jenin refugee camp during the First Intifada. Juliano returned to Jenin Refugee Camp in April 2002 in the aftermath of an Israeli massacre in the camp to see what happened to the children he knew and loved. He found that all but one were killed; the lone survivor was Zakaria Zubeidi, who is featured in the film as a child and then as a commander of Palestinian resistance in the camp.

Zubeidi has been in and out of the Israeli prisons and has survived several assassination attempts. I recall seeing him speak after a showing of the film in Jenin during the Jenin Film Festival several years ago. He was arrested in 2019 and has not yet been sentenced.

Zakaria Zubeidi

Zakaria Zubeidi is carried by supporters during a presidential elections campaign rally in support of Mahmoud Abbas in 2004. Nasser Nasser | AP

Mahmoud Abdullah Ardah, 46, from Jenin, was the leader of the Gilboa Prison escape operation, according to a piece in Middle East Eye that quotes the Palestinian armed group al-Quds Brigades. Ardah was arrested in 1996 and sentenced to life in prison on charges of being a member of the al-Quds Brigades and for his involvement in the killing of Israeli soldiers. He reportedly tried to escape in 2014 from Shatta prison by digging a tunnel, but his plan was unsuccessful.

Mohamed Qassem Ardah, 39, is from Jenin and was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to life in prison. He too was charged with belonging to al-Quds Brigades and being involved in the killing of Israeli soldiers.

Yaqoub Mahmoud Qadri — 49, from Bir al-Basha, Jenin — was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to life in prison on charges of belonging to al-Quds Brigades and killing an Israeli settler. In 2014, he and a number of other prisoners, including Mahmoud Abdullah Ardah, tried to escape from Shatta prison through a tunnel, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

Ayham Nayef Kamanji, 35, is from Kafr Dan. He was arrested in 2006 and sentenced to life in prison on charges of killing an Israeli settler and participating in other armed activities against Israeli targets.

Munadil Yaqoub Nfeiat, 26, is from Ya’bad, southwest of Jenin. He has been jailed without charge since 2019.

The international community must come out in defense of these six men and demand that they be safe from the Israeli authorities. Furthermore, guarantees must be given for the safety of their relatives and the communities these men are from, which will undoubtedly be the victims of more Israeli violence.

Editor’s Note | Shortly after this article was published, Yaqoub Kadri and Muhammad Ardah were captured by Israeli forces in Nazareth. Follow MintPress News on Twitter to read more.

Feature photo | Palestinians ride a motorcycle decorated with a poster that shows pictures of six Palestinian prisoners who escaped from Israel’s notorious Gilboa Prison. Nasser Nasser | AP

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Why Israel’s Gilboa Prison Break has Palestanians Celebrating appeared first on MintPress News.

Revealed: Mercer Street’s Parent Shipping Company a Front for Israeli Intelligence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/09/2021 - 6:08am in

GULF OF OMAN — Earlier this summer, the Israeli-operated oil tanker Mercer Street was attacked by drones, allegedly emanating from Iran, disabling the ship and killing two people on board. The incident, portrayed as an unprovoked attack on a civilian vessel, caused worldwide outrage, and marked a new low in Iranian relations with Israel and its Western allies. But a MintPress investigation can now reveal that Zodiac Maritime, the Mercer Street’s operator, has a long history of working closely with both the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and Israeli intelligence unit Mossad, using its ships to ferry arms and operatives around the region for covert operations, including assassinations.

 

Zodiac Killers

Zodiac Maritime is a worldwide shipping conglomerate owned and operated by the Ofer family. Brothers Eyal and Idan Ofer are Israel’s third and ninth richest billionaires, respectively, having taken over the business from their father, Sammy. The company also has a long history of working alongside the Israeli government on special operations.

Defying American sanctions, for years, Zodiac ships continued to trade with the Islamic Republic, docking regularly in Iranian ports. By the time of Sammy’s death in 2011, the U.S. government was investigating the firm and the Treasury Department had announced sanctions against it for supposedly helping Iran skirt round the American-imposed blockade.

Why such a well-established Israeli firm would breach sanctions and collaborate with an enemy state in Iran also mystified many Israeli officials, who launched their own inquiry. However, the government hearing on the affair was abruptly shut down after the chair was passed a note by a “very high-ranking security official” — that official rumored to have been Mossad Director Tamir Pardo. As soon as Committee Chairman Carmel Shama read the message, he immediately ordered all press to leave the meeting and finished the event behind closed doors. “Let’s just be clear: the note is not from a political figure and not from a business figure. It turns out that reality is much more complex, much more complicated and touchy than the average imagination can handle,” Shama offered as an explanation. The reaction from both the Knesset and the United States government suggests that this agreement was extremely secret indeed, with operations going on behind both of their backs.

The news, which Israeli media had christened “OferGate,” was immediately dropped and glossed over, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisting that the elderly Sammy Ofer, who died the same week, was a “Zionist through and through.” Meir Dagan, who had recently retired as director of Mossad, concurred, stating that the case had been “blown out of proportion,” and hinted that the Ofer family may have actually been acting in the service of the state.

Among such known missions are Zodiac Maritime cargo ships with modified hulls being used to ferry Israeli Black Hawk helicopters to Iran, where they were used by elite commando teams in reconnaissance missions against the Islamic Republic’s alleged nuclear programs. Zodiac Maritime’s business relationship with Iranian ports and shipping companies was crucial to this endeavor, providing both the cover and the means to enter Iranian waters without attracting suspicion.

The year before OferGate blew up in Israeli media, the billionaire clan’s boats were used in a successful assassination mission against Palestinian leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Mossad killed the Hamas official, responsible for procurement of weapons, in his Dubai hotel room, causing a worldwide outrage. Secret agents traveled to the United Arab Emirates on Ofer’s ships, posing as workers and using forged foreign passports. Reports suggest that al-Mabhouh was drugged, electrocuted and suffocated with a pillow in his room, with some operatives escaping on the same ship they arrived on.

Although successful, the mission did not go as smoothly as planned, as Emirati police were able to identify a number of the perpetrators. Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland expelled Israeli diplomats in protest at Mossad’s use of faked passports from their countries as cover for the operation.

Going further back, in 1988, elite Israeli forces, under the command of future Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon, used modified cargo ships to smuggle soldiers and helicopters into Tunisia, where they stormed into Tunis and killed Deputy Leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Khalil al-Wazir, before returning to the ship and making a hasty retreat.

The long history of Zodiac Maritime and other Israeli civilian shipping companies aiding the government in acts of international terrorism raises the question whether perhaps Iranian intelligence suspected something about the Mercer Street that is not publicly known. The vessel was travelling from Africa to the United Arab Emirates, and, when hit, was about to enter the Gulf of Oman — the narrow maritime passage between the Arabian peninsula and Iran. There was reportedly no cargo on board.

Yet any possibility of clandestine activities has been overlooked by corporate media when reporting on the Mercer Street attack. Instead, all such outlets preferred to echo Western governments’ framing of the events as an “unacceptable and outrageous attack on commercial shipping,” in the words of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

https://twitter.com/BWoodward_UN/status/1423703969394745349?ref_src=twsr...

 

The British connection

The 28,400 ton vessel was attacked by drones on July 29 and July 30. The two casualties reported are an unidentified Romanian worker and Adrian Underwood, a soldier with a long and distinguished record in the British army. Underwood had recently joined private security group Ambrey.

Based in the provincial English city of Hereford, Ambrey boasts that its 600 operatives work in over 20 countries worldwide, providing security and training services around the globe. Hereford is also the headquarters of the SAS, Britain’s most elite fighting force. Because of the SAS, the city of barely 60,000 people has become arguably the worldwide center for mercenaries, a recent report noting that no fewer than 14 private military and security companies are based there. Ambrey itself has deep connections to the British armed forces, with most of its directors serving long tours of duty in its ranks.

The United Kingdom has close links with the Israeli national security state, supplying the IDF with over $500 million worth of weapons since 2015, much of this being aircraft or high tech machinery. British units provide training to their Israeli counterparts and there is even a small British force stationed inside the Jewish state. The U.K. and Israel now conduct joint war games as well as share intelligence. As Declassified UK noted, the United Kingdom also plays a crucial role in maintaining Israeli nuclear weapons, supplying submarine components that maintain the country’s nuclear capabilities.

PalAction: Shutting Down the British Arms Trade to Israel

Israel also enjoys significant influence in the U.K., selling weapons and funding political groups. Indeed, a recent investigation found that one third of the British cabinet, including Prime Minister Johnson, have been directly financed by Israel or pro-Israli lobby groups. Earlier this year, former Conservative Minister Alan Duncan claimed that he was blocked from being appointed Middle East Minister by Israeli pressure groups “for no other reason than that I believe in the rights of the Palestinians.” “The Israelis think they control the Foreign Office. And they do!” he added — a statement that goes beyond even the wildest remarks of Labor politicians accused of anti-Semitism.

Zodiac Maritime and the Ofer family also have close connections with Great Britain. Sammy Ofer himself served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. And although Zodiac Maritime is legally based in Monaco, its day-to-day operations are run from London, with much of its fleet registered in Britain. Ofer donated substantial sums to British institutions, giving £20 million (around $27 million) to the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich in East London and £3.3 million (~ $4.5 million) to restore the historic ship Cutty Sark. There is now an entire wing of the National Maritime Museum named in his honor. In 2008, he was awarded the title of Honorary Knight of the British Empire. Ofer’s sons Eyal and Idan also reside in London, and both have continued their father’s tradition of giving ostentatiously to local art and cultural institutions.

 

Anatomy of an attack

Although the Mercer Street is operated by Zodiac Maritime, it is actually owned by a subsidiary of the Japanese shipping conglomerate Nippon Yusen Group. And despite Zodiac being an Israeli-owned and controlled company, it is, as previously noted, headquartered in London and technically registered as a Monaco-based operation. On top of all this, the Mercer Street flies a Liberian flag, as around one in ten big ships do. Such is the tax-avoiding world of international big business.

Built in 2013, the Mercer Street sailed throughout Africa, Europe and Asia. It was hit by a sustained attack from suicide drones on the evening of July 29 and the morning of July 30. In addition to the two human fatalities, the ship suffered considerable damage to its bridge, rendering it out of action. Zodiac Maritime refused to answer questions about the extent of the damage, reveal the identity of the Romanian individual killed, or confirm or deny its relationship with the Israeli government when asked by MintPress.

Responding to distress calls, the U.S. Navy sped to the ship, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ronald Reagan escorting it to a safe port. U.S. Central Command conducted an investigation into the affair, concluding that three UAV drones were used in the attack, and that military-grade explosives were used to blast a 6-foot hole in the topside of the pilot house, badly damaging its interior as well. Meanwhile, Britain immediately flew a team of 40 SAS commandos to eastern Yemen, acting on the theory that Iranian-supported Houthi rebels could have been behind the attack. That the United States and United Kingdom were so quick to act raises questions about how closely they are coordinating with each other and against Iran.

Mercer Street

The Mercer Street is seen moored off Fujairah, UAE, on Aug. 4, 2021, one week after it was attacked. Jon Gambrell | AP

The U.S. and Israel both blamed Iran for the incident. “Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack,” said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. “We are working with our partners to consider our next steps and consulting with governments inside the region and beyond on an appropriate response, which will be forthcoming.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was even more confident — and belligerent. “I determine, with absolute certainty, Iran carried out the attack against the ship,” he stated. “The intelligence evidence for this exists and we expect the international community will make it clear to the Iranian regime that they have made a serious mistake… We know how to send a message to Iran in our own way,” he added.

Iran, for its part, has rejected the accusations. “Regarding the politically motivated statements made by the United States and the United Kingdom in this meeting against Iran concerning the Mercer Street vessel incident, I reiterate, once again, our firm rejection of these unsubstantiated allegations,” said Zahra Ershadi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, who stressed that “the Islamic Republic of Iran is highly interested in, and attaches great importance to, maritime security.”

 

Tit-for-Tat spats

This is, however, far from the first time Iran has been linked with attacks on Israeli vessels. Indeed, earlier that month, a UAE-bound ship in the Strait of Hormuz, previously owned by Zodiac Maritime, was hit, with Israeli officials pointing the finger at Iran. The Times of Israel speculated that the incident could have been a response to an Israeli attack on an Iranian centrifuge production site in June.

Israeli-owned ships have also come under fire in April, March, and February of this year, each time Jerusalem suspecting Iran. The last of these, the attack on the MV Helios Ray, damaged its hull. Ambrey operatives were also providing security for that ship. “This was indeed an operation by Iran. That is clear,” Netanyahu told the press at the time. Iran also denies responsibility for these attacks. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh stated that Netanyahu suffered from “Iranophobia” and suggested that he was using the incidents as a distraction to Israel’s domestic problems.

However, few seem to believe that Iran is entirely guilt free. National security blogger Richard Silverstein described the Mercer Street incident as Iran repaying Zodiac Maritime in kind for its role in helping the Israeli military. “President Raisi seems intent on conveying a strong message: whatever you may have thought of [former President Hassan] Rouhani, he was a walk in the park compared to what I will be,” Silverstein wrote.

Receiving less press attention, Israel has also been carrying out a campaign against Iranian ships, targeting at least 12 Syria-bound vessels, most of them carrying Iranian oil. One such attack earlier this year backfired heavily on Israel, however. IDF commandos successfully attached a mine on an Iraninan oil tanker in the Mediterranean. But the resulting blast led to over 1,000 tons of oil leaking into the sea and washing up on Israeli beaches, causing the worst ecological disaster in the country’s history. Animals and coastal areas were covered in oil, forcing the government to close Israeli beaches for weeks afterward, as thousands of people worked to clean up the spill.

In April, Iranian military ship MV Saviz was attacked in the Red Sea. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz stopped short of claiming responsibility, but stated that “Israel must continue to defend itself,” adding that, “Any place we find an operational challenge and necessity, we will continue to act.” But officials in Gantz’s government reportedly privately confirmed to the U.S. that it was indeed responsible for the attack. An Iranian military vessel also mysteriously caught fire and sank in early June of this year.

Israel has also carried out numerous attacks on the Iranian nuclear program, the most notable of which was perhaps the assassination of top scientist Moshen Fakhrizadeh last November. While traveling between a meeting and a university lecture in Tehran, Fakhrizadeh was gunned down, with many reports suggesting that a remotely operated gun mounted on a truck was responsible. Former Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen strongly hinted his agency was involved in the killing.

Iran is currently in negotiations with the United States about a redesigned nuclear deal, something that Israel strongly opposes. In 2018, President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Barack Obama’s nuclear deal, but later tried to convince other nations to sanction Iran based on the Islamic Republic’s non-adherence to the agreement he had personally scuppered. The recent series of attacks have done nothing to help the prospect of a long-term accord being reached.

American sanctions have already inflicted serious hardship on Iran, sending the prices of consumer goods soaring and the value of its currency, the rial, plummeting. Oil production has sputtered, as the country can find few buyers for its primary national export. The price of food has also become a serious issue for many. “The sanctions deliberately target ordinary Iranians, women and children,” Seyed Mohammad Marandi, Professor of English Literature at the University of Tehran, told MintPress last year. “They are designed to kill hospital patients and to create poverty. They have had partial success.”

How US Sanctions are Hurting Iran: A Firsthand Report

The assault on the Mercer Street provokes many questions. If Iran did indeed attack the ship, why did it do so? Did they suspect or know anything about what was on board? Or was this simply another episode in the tit-for-tat spat that has been escalating between the two countries for years? How closely does Zodiac Maritime work with the Israeli security services? What is the role of the British mercenary group in all this? And to what extent does Israel work with the U.S. and U.K. on these issues? As with so much in the world of espionage, the truth rarely comes out quickly, if at all.

Editor’s note | Additional support and research for this article were provided by MintPress News staffer, Lowkey

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Revealed: Mercer Street’s Parent Shipping Company a Front for Israeli Intelligence appeared first on MintPress News.

Privatizing the Occupation: How Israeli Corporations Came to Police the Palestinians

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/09/2021 - 4:14am in

OCCUPIED WEST BANK — On any given morning, masses of Palestinians are packed like sardines at the Qalandiya checkpoint at the edge of Ramallah in the Occupied West Bank. Here, the Israeli army, border police, and Israeli police are all on patrol. But another group of officers — nearly indistinguishable from the state authorities — also stands guard. These are the employees of Israeli private security behemoth Modiin Ezrachi. The security corporation is part of a plethora of private companies carrying out state functions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

 

Private security at the checkpoints

The process of transferring military operations to private security contractors commenced during the Second Intifada (Palestinian uprising against the Israeli state) from 2000 to 2005. An Israeli government decision handed over the powers to civilian and police control in 2005 and established the Crossing Points Authority as the body responsible for maintaining the checkpoints.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) stated the reasoning behind this decision was to preserve Palestinians’ “fabric of life.” The fabric of life refers to the basic minimum conditions a person needs to work, study, and live. Dr. Shir Hever, a political economist and author of the book “The Privatisation of Israeli Security,” explained Israel’s security interest in protecting Palestinians’ fabric of life as arising not out of moral duty but rather as a diplomatic strategy. “The whole point is that the Israeli security operations need to disrupt that fabric as little as possible in the fewest instances possible because this impacts the Israeli image abroad,” Hever told MintPress News.

“The presence of 18-year-old soldiers in the checkpoints, where the soldiers are not trained and not experienced in dealing with civilian populations, causes embarrassing issues,” Hever continued. In order for the MoD to avoid potential gaffes on the world stage, trained security personnel replaced the army.

Yet security professionals appear just as inept at interacting with civilians as does the Israeli army.

Maram Saleh Hassan Abu Ismail was attempting to cross the Qalandiya checkpoint with her teenage brother, Ibrahim Taha, when the siblings were shot dead by two civilian security guards on April 27, 2016. Israel Police claimed the woman threw a knife at an officer, prompting the fatal shooting. A police investigation was opened and abruptly closed the following August with no indictments.

This is just one of many violent incidents perpetrated by private security guards against Palestinians at checkpoints, settlements, and various Israeli public places. The Israeli government’s objective for privatization was for more professional interaction between Palestinians and security forces. But Dr. Hever explained that the way privatization was structured actually eliminated all interaction. “Everything’s done remotely and mechanically, meaning there’s a voice coming from the wall telling you to put your bag into the machine, put your identity card into the slot, move through the turnstile, and you don’t see anybody. You don’t speak with anybody,” Hever said.



 

The companies operating at the checkpoints

According to Machsom Watch, an Israeli women’s organization monitoring the checkpoints, there are 593 checkpoints in the West Bank — including 23 border checkpoints. The border checkpoints have been undergoing privatization efforts since 2006. Research center Who Profits details all of the checkpoints along the Apartheid Wall — which the Israeli government refers to as the Separation Barrier, between the West Bank and 1948-Occupied Palestine (or modern-day Israel) — that are to be privatized. Fifteen checkpoints are currently privatized and one is partially privatized.

The following are the companies involved in the checkpoints:

Sheleg Lavan

Sheleg Lavan is an Israeli firm providing cleaning and security services. In 2019, it won a tender from the Israel Police to provide security operations to the area of the Apartheid Wall surrounding Jerusalem (Israel Police declined to provide an interview for this story; Sheleg Lavan and the Crossing Points Authority did not respond to requests for comment).

The company has inspectors and guards at the following checkpoints in Gaza and the West Bank: Tarqumia, Meitar, Maccabim, Habika, Eliyahu, Hashmonaim, Sha’ar Efraim, and Kerem Shalom. The company’s revenue stands at 600 million shekels or nearly $190 million.

Modiin Ezrachi

Modiin Ezrachi is one of the largest Israeli security companies, with a revenue of 700 million shekels or nearly $220 million. It has security guards and inspectors at the following checkpoints in the West Bank, Gaza, and Occupied East Jerusalem: Gilboa, Reihan, Eyal, Hotze Shomron, Qalandiya, Sheikh Sa’ad, Anata, and Al-Jib. The two security guards responsible for Abu Ismail and Taha’s deaths were employed by Modiin Ezrachi.

G1 Secure Solutions

This Israeli security firm’s luggage- and body-scanning machines are used at the Erez checkpoint in Gaza, and at the Qalandiya, Bethlehem and Sha’ar Efraim checkpoints in the West Bank. The company had a contract with the Israel Civil Administration (ICA) for maintenance of metal gates designed by U.S. corporation Rapiscan and installed at ICA checkpoints. The contract was renewed until April 2018. G1 Secure Solutions did not respond to comments on whether it still retains this contract. The company’s current revenue is 821.4 million shekels or roughly $260 million.

Malam Team

Malam Team is an Israeli information technology firm. The company has an estimated revenue of $711 million shekels or $220 million. Malam Team’s subsidiary, Eltel, has scanning equipment at several West Bank checkpoints and at the Erez checkpoint in Gaza. It also maintains scanning equipment in the following checkpoints in the West Bank and Gaza: Hotze-Shomron, Eyal, Barta’a, Eliyahu, Jalme, Metar, Metzudut Yehuda, Sha’ar Efraim, Maccabim, Tarqumya, and Habika.

T&M Protection Resources Holdings Israel

This Israeli security company won a tender published by the Israel Police in 2019 for nine checkpoints in Jerusalem near the Apartheid Wall. These checkpoints are: a-Sheikh Sa’ed, a-Sawahrah, a-Za’ayem, Mazmuriyeh, Ein Yael, The Tunnels, Anata, Checkpoint 300, and a-Zaitun. The firm also provides guarding services to the Crossing Points Authority.

T&M Israel is the highest-ranked company in Israel’s security and cleaning industry. Its 2021 revenue stands at 1.175 billion shekels or $367 million. The company’s CEO, Shimon Talmor, served as a combat fighter in the Israeli army.

International Institute for Nonviolent Action

Credit | International Institute for Nonviolent Action | Creative Commons

 

Private security in the settlements

Many of the private companies operating at the checkpoints also provide security services to the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In 2008, the Israeli military decided to transfer the security of 40 settlements to private security personnel. The military attributed its decision to the installation of army equipment having made the presence of soldiers in the settlements obsolete, and maintained that trained professionals would be able to offer better security than soldiers.

Modiin Ezrachi, G1 Secure Solutions, Malam Team, and T&M Israel are all involved in the settlements.

Modiin Ezrachi provides security to settlements in East Jerusalem, including working with the settler organization El’ad; nine settlements in the West Bank; and has been contracted by the Mount Hebron and Mateh Benjamin settlement councils. Settlement councils are Israeli government-run institutions charged with running the affairs of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, including the hiring of contractors. Most of Israel’s illegal settlements are managed by a group of representatives known as regional councils. The company provides security to businesses in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone and the construction sites in the Beitar Illit settlement.

G1 Secure Solutions provides security to eight settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Malam runs an IT services project employing orthodox Jewish women, called Ma’alot in Beitar Illit. And T&M Israel provides security, guarding and escorting services to settlers in East Jerusalem.

Legalized Apartheid: The Israeli Supreme Court Just Cemented Jewish Supremacy into Law

The following security companies also operate in the settlements and industrial zones in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Reshef Security

This Israeli security firm operates in 22 settlements in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the occupied Syrian Golan. Reshef Security won a tender issued by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in 2019 for maintaining security at nine sites in the Golan and 10 in the West Bank. It works with the Ministry of Education to provide security to educational facilities in the West Bank. And Reshef Security’s National Center for Earthquake Prediction and Control has sensors installed in 10 settlements in the West Bank.

Tzevet 5

Tzevet 5 provides security services to 13 settlements, settlement councils, and industrial zones in the West Bank. In 2019, Who Profits researchers documented Tzevet 5 employees guarding the Og sewage purification plant located in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.

Moked Matara

This Israeli security and surveillance company’s clientele includes seven settlements in the West Bank. The company’s top executives are all veterans of the Israeli army.

According to his LinkedIn profile, chairman Yossi Refaelov served as a Combat Engineering Brigade commander and Special Operation Unit commander in the Israel Defense Forces. Yossi Arbiv is Moked Matara’s business development manager and “served as a Deputy in one of the Combat Engineering Battalions, as a commander of a Bomb Disposal Unit, as a Special Operation Unit deputy commander and as operations officer of Combat Engineering Corps.” Atai Shelach has served as the company’s director since 2014. Shelach’s Linkedin profile boasts “27 years of military operational experience. He served as the Commander of the special Elite Combat Engineering Unit of the Israel Defense Forces, as Head of the IDF’s VIP Protection Unit, as Chief, IDF’s CBRN Center and as Second in Command of the IDF engineering corps.”

Nof Yam Security

Nof Yam provides security services to four settlements in the West Bank: Ma’ale Adumim, Efrat, Har Gilo, and Elazar. According to Who Profits, “[t]he company’s directors and consultants are former high-ranking officers in the Israeli military and security forces.”

Ben Security

This Israeli security firm operates in eight settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Ben Security ranked 10th in Israel’s index of the leading security and cleaning companies. The company’s estimated revenue is 170 million shekels or just over $50 million.

Galshan Marketing Human Resources Guarding & Security

Galshan is a private security company whose settlement clientele includes Beit El Local Council, Mevaseret Zion Local Council, Mateh Yehuda Regional Council, Gush Etzion Regional Council, and Beitar Illit.

International Institute for Nonviolent Action

Credit | International Institute for Nonviolent Action | Creative Commons

 

From military head to security firm CEO

It’s no coincidence that many of these companies’ top management officials were once senior military officers. Dr. Hever explained the traditional career step for most retired Israeli army generals is the private sector:

The Israeli military has a very low retirement age — between 40 and 45 — so these officers have time for a second career. That second career explains a lot of why these security companies are so prosperous, and why so many of them are getting so many contracts, because that’s the employment option for these retired generals.”

With the rise of high technology, ex-generals became less desirable as company CEOs, with preference given to engineering and tech experts instead. “The options for these retired generals are narrowing and they either become arms dealers or they set up security companies,” Hever said.

But for Palestinians, whether it’s a soldier or private security guard stationed at a settlement or checkpoint doesn’t matter.

Faced with ICC Investigation, Apartheid Israel Asserts Moral Superiority Over The Victims of Its Terror

“What do Palestinians care who looks at their papers?” Hanna Barag, an activist with Machsom Watch, told MintPress.

The psychological effect that you have to go through a checkpoint with papers when you never know what’s going to happen any day of the year, any minute, and that you never know if you’re going to get these papers back…this is the real occupation, sitting in the fact that you have no freedom of movement.”

Feature photo | An armed Israeli stands atop a water tower in a settlement near the West Bank village of Um Fagarah, South Hebron Hills, West Bank. Oren Ziv | Activestills

Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News.

The post Privatizing the Occupation: How Israeli Corporations Came to Police the Palestinians appeared first on MintPress News.

Zionism’s Anthem: The Danger Lurking in “Jerusalem of Gold”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/09/2021 - 4:27am in

JERUSALEM — The risk of Israel destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and replacing them with a so-called Jewish temple is real and present. Building a temple in place of the mosque and golden dome that grace Jerusalem today has been a long-time Zionist aspiration, expressed in songs, tales, and, over the last decade, provocations that could lead to the spark Zionists need to raze the Haram Al-Sharif.

One example of Zionist propaganda that lays claim to the Haram Al-Sharf is the iconic Hebrew song “Jerusalem of Gold.” Written by the Israeli national poet Neomi Shemer, it is often presented as a simple song that expresses the yearning of the Jewish people for their lost, historical capital. However, it isn’t hard to see that the song, its writer, and the people who commissioned the song had a very clear political agenda.

The song begins with the following lines:

Mountain air as clear as wine

And the fragrance of pines

Is carried in the evening wind 

With the sound of ringing bells

And in the slumber of tree and stone

Trapped in its dream 

The city that sits alone

And in its heart a Wall

Jerusalem of gold

And bronze and light

To all your songs

I am a violin…

The image of Jerusalem as a lone city sitting alone and secluded, a haunted city with nothing but a past, reflects a romanticized idea that protestant evangelicals and dreamy Zionists share, but it is not a true reflection of the Jerusalem of 1967. The song goes on with the following lines:

How the water wells dried up

The city square is empty

And no one ascends to the Temple Mount

In The Old City

And not a soul goes down the Dead Sea

By way of Jericho.

The city of Jerusalem was divided in 1948 between the newly formed states of Jordan and Israel, and both sides were populated. The Western side was subjected to an ethnic cleansing campaign that emptied it of its indigenous Palestinian population and settled by Zionist immigrants making it an Israeli-Jewish-only city. The Eastern side of Jerusalem, including the Old City, remained in Arab hands and came under Jordanian rule.

The markets in the Old City were filled with people; worshipers on the Haram Al-Sharif (The Temple Mount) prayed; and the water wells were not dried up. Only for Neomi Shemer, who at the time was Israel’s national poet and songwriter, East Jerusalem — and especially the Old City — was empty because, as she put it, “a world without Jews is empty.”

Reading the lines of her song one could almost forget that the Old City of Jerusalem, to which Neomi Shemer was referring, was in fact an Arab and predominantly Muslim city for over 1,500 years. The city also included, among several other minorities, a small, impoverished community of Jews.


Naomi Shemer pictured in July, 2004. Photo | Flash90

 

A family connection

To add a disclaimer, I must confess that Neomi Shemer was a close friend of my family. Her mother, Rivka Sapir, and my grandmother Sarah both came to Palestine as young Zionist pioneers in the early part of the twentieth century. Even though they settled in different parts of the country — Rivka in the northern settlement of “Kvutzat Kinneret,” a settlement on the banks of Lake Tabariya, and my grandmother Sarah in Jerusalem — they remained the closest of friends for over fifty years. Neomi Shemer and my father were friends growing up, though my father was her senior in age, and the two families were close for decades.

Neomi Shemer admittedly had a deep admiration for the young Zionist men of that generation — men who, like my father, had dedicated their lives to the military arm of the Zionist colonial project, and in fact created the military machine known as the Israeli Army, or IDF.

 

Determined to “complete the job”

By the 1960s, my father and his generation of officers were all generals and had become the subject of enormous national admiration within the young Zionist state. Their intention — indeed their ambition to “complete” the conquests of 1948 by taking the West Bank and East Jerusalem — was not a secret. Neomi Shemer, like so many other Israelis, shared that ambition, which was an Israel that stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

It wasn’t until May of 1967 that the opportunity arrived to realize the ambition to take the rest of Palestine. Israeli intelligence made it clear that the Arab armies were no match for the Israeli Defense Forces and, with this knowledge, they began to campaign to get popular support to complete their ambition of conquest.

 

A brilliant campaign

The campaign had several parts. One had to do with perpetuating the lie that the Arab armies were poised to attack and that the “Jewish State” was under an existential threat. This argument was used to pressure the Israeli government, which was at that time hesitant about initiating yet another war, to give the green light to start a preemptive strike.

The other front was more visionary and included the song “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” or “Jerusalem of Gold.” Only Neomi Shemer could have written this song. She knew how to play on the chords of national sentiments more than any other songwriter, and indeed she was tasked with the job. The mayor of Jerusalem at the time was the ambitious Teddy Kolek, who no doubt could already taste having the magnificent Old City of Jerusalem under his control. He had the song commissioned just weeks before the war.

With her background, her ability to romanticize Zionism and the achievements of Zionism, and her deep and personal connections to the generals of the IDF, who were chomping at the bit to start a war, Neomi Shemer was sure to deliver the goods. And indeed she did.

Israel’s nineteenth Independence Day was held on the 9th of May that year. The military parade customary on Independence Day was a more modest version, as the military was already preparing for war. The song “Jerusalem of Gold” was performed for the first time by Shuli Natan, a young female singer who was until that moment unknown and was personally chosen by Shemer. It was an astounding success and, overnight, the song was heard throughout the entire country.

 

The Temple Mount

On June 4, after two stormy meetings between the IDF top brass and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, the green light was given to conduct a preemptive strike against Egypt. The mandate from the government was to attack Egypt only. However, there is evidence indicating that the popularity of the song had given impetus to the popular demand for Israel to take the Old City of Jerusalem. This meant opening the war to an eastern front and taking the entire West Bank from Jordan. The generals were only too happy to do this, and indeed they did it without waiting for government approval.

The conquest of the Old City was made all the more dramatic as the song had become popular to the point that it was being constantly played on Israeli radio and in every home. I myself remember the song playing before and during the war, as my father spent days and nights at IDF headquarters and my older brother, a young officer at the time, on the Egyptian front. Then came the famous announcement by Colonel Mordechai Gur, commander of the IDF paratrooper Brigade who took the Old City:

I am not a religious man, but I am touching the stones of the Kotel (the Western Wall), I am touching the stones of the Kotel with my bare hands!”

Later on, Colonel Gur called out what became the most iconic statement of the war: “Har Habayit Beydeynu!” or “The Temple Mount is in our hands!”

Immediately after the war, and once the eastern part of Jerusalem including the Old City was conquered by the Israeli army, Neomi Shemer went on tour to perform in front of the victorious troops who were still at the front. At that point she added the following lines to the song:

We have returned to the Water Wells

To the Market and the City Square

A Shofar calls on the Temple Mount

In The Old City

And once again we will go down to the Dead Sea

By way of Jericho.

Neomi Shemer performing her most famous song, “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.”

 

Criticism

After the war there was some criticism of the song for its implication that there were no people in the Old City before Israel had occupied it. However, just as the Zionists did not see the Palestinains as people in 1948, Nemoni Shemer did not see them in 1967. In an interview she gave in response to the criticism, she said, “People criticize me because I say that no one was there when it was full of Arabs,” and then she added, “This made me extremely angry. For me a place without Jews is empty.”

 

A national symbol

It is said that when a conflict is political it is solvable, but if it becomes religious then it is far more dangerous because each side believes that God is on their side. In the case of Jerusalem, and especially the Haram Al-Sharif, the opposite is true. Zionists have been able to create a yearning among non-religious Israelis to see a “Jewish” temple built in place of the glorious Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, as a national aspiration.

It is as though Israel will not be complete until such a temple — the temple of King David — once again sits there instead of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. As I look back at my own childhood, I can recall countless folk songs in which the building of the temple is mentioned and repeated as a yearning, as a national aspiration of all Jews, religious and non-religious, including ones like myself who were raised completely secular.

 

Quiet can be a dangerous thing

In a video in Hebrew that came out in 2019, one of Israel’s beloved national public figures, Yehoram Ga’on, who made a career as a singer and actor, speaks to this yearning. He speaks about the “injustice” of denying Jewish people access to the Temple Mount, “the holiest place for the Jews.” In this video, he refers specifically to the fact that on “Jerusalem Day” that year the Temple Mount will be closed to Jewish people because it fell on the last day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Ga’on says that the government — or the “kingdom,” as he refers to it — prefers “quiet” over allowing Jewish people to access what is rightfully theirs. “This is a knockout victory [of] the Islamic calendar over the Jewish calendar,” he says, meaning that, because the dates of their holiday collided with ours, we capitulated for the sake of “quiet.” He explained:

The kingdom does not want to mobilize the army, police and border police to face off crowds who call out ‘With blood and spirit we will free Palestine,’ because the kingdom wants quiet.

All we asked is that we too are allowed to enter the Mount — is that too much to ask?”

Ga’on then went on to say that this desire for quiet means that the Jews have to give in and to forgo their own rights, their beliefs, their existence, and that this is a desecration of the memory of those who gave their lives in battle. The video is peppered with clips of Palestinian “violence,” which contradicts the presumption of “quiet,” and proposes that, even with this egregious injustice to the Jews, Israel does not have the quiet it desires because the Arabs are violently demanding more and more.

The innocence of his proposition could make one believe that indeed Jewish Israelis were the ones living under occupation; that Jewish Israelis are denied rights; that they are the ones who are struggling to survive in an oppressive, apartheid regime that wants to get rid of them. Listening to his reasoning — his quiet, reasonable voice — one could almost be convinced that a terrible wrong has been done to the Jews in Jerusalem.

The ability to exclude the context from every argument is a tactic that Zionist propagandists have used for many decades. They gloss over almost an entire century of ethnic cleansing, violence, racist policies, an apartheid regime, and a concerted effort to rid Palestine of its people and its landmarks.

Fifteen hundred years of history, fifteen hundred years of worship, and maintaining what is one of the most wonderful structures known to humanity are meaningless in the eyes of Zionists. As an example, Al-Aqsa and the structures that surround it are older and in many ways more beautiful and certainly more significant than the Taj Mahal. Now imagine someone coming to claim that the Taj Mahal is sitting on an ancient temple and must be destroyed.

Whether it is Neomi Shemer or Yehoram Ga’on, both of whom are Zionist cultural icons, the message is the same: Only Jews matter. As we look at the short history of Israel, we can see clearly that the role of Zionist zealots was always instrumental in achieving Zionist goals. If it weren’t for zealots, fanatic Zionist settlers, there would be no Zionist state, no settlements in the West Bank, and no State of Israel. The Zionist movement was always a step ahead, indoctrinating, supporting, and funding the zealot settlers who then took things into their own hands and created facts on the ground.

Should the Al-Aqsa Mosque be destroyed, the match will be lit by a fanatic settler, but it is decades of Zionist indoctrination and Israeli policies that will be responsible for the destruction. And all that will be left for the rest of the world to do is look at the ashes in shame.

Feature photo | Dome of the Rock at dawn. Photo | Joiseyshowaa | Flickr CC

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Zionism’s Anthem: The Danger Lurking in “Jerusalem of Gold” appeared first on MintPress News.

‘Blood for Blood’: On Jenin and Israel’s Fear of an Armed Palestinian Rebellion

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/08/2021 - 3:23am in

The killing of four young Palestinians by Israeli occupation soldiers in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, on August 16, is a consequential event, the repercussions of which are sure to be felt in the coming weeks and months.

The four Palestinians – Saleh Mohammed Ammar, 19, Raed Ziad Abu Seif, 21, Nour Jarrar, 19, and Amjad Hussainiya, 20  – were either newly born or mere toddlers when the Israeli army invaded Jenin in April 2002. The objective, then, based on statements by Israeli officials and army generals, was to teach Jenin a lesson, one they hoped would be understood by other resisting Palestinian areas throughout the occupied West Bank.

In my book, Searching Jenin, published a few months after what is now known as the ‘Massacre of Jenin’ or the ‘Battle of Jenin’, I tried to convey the revolutionary spirit of this place. Although, in some ways, the camp was a representation of the wider Palestinian struggle, in other aspects it was a unique phenomenon, deserving of a thorough analysis and understanding.

By the end of that battle, Israel seemed to have entirely eliminated the armed resistance of Jenin. Hundreds of fighters and civilians were killed and wounded, hundreds more arrested and numerous homes destroyed. Even voices sympathetic to the Palestinian struggle have underestimated Jenin’s ability to resurrect its resistance under seemingly impossible circumstances.

Writing in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, on June 10, 2016, Gideon Levy and Alex Levac described the state of affairs in the small camp. “Jenin, always the most militant of the refugee camps, was battered and destroyed, suppressed and bloodied, by Israel. These days its spirit seems to be broken. Every person is dealing with his own fate, his own private struggle for survival,” they wrote. The title of their article was “Jenin, Once the Most Militant of Palestinian Refugee Camps, Waves a White Flag”.

Being suppressed and shattered by an overwhelming force, however, is entirely different from “raising the white flag”. In fact, this truism does not just apply to Jenin but to the entirety of occupied Palestine, where Palestinians, at times, find themselves fighting on multiple fronts: Israeli occupation, armed illegal Jewish settlers, and the co-opted Palestinian Authority.

However, May 2021 changed so much. The Israeli attempt at ethnically cleansing Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, the subsequent war on Gaza and the unprecedented uprising of unity, bringing all Palestinians, everywhere, together, lifted Jenin and other Palestinian areas from their state of despondency. The stiff resistance in Gaza, in particular, has had a direct impact on the various fighting groups in the West Bank, which were either disbanded or marginalized.

An unprecedented scene in Ramallah, on May 17, tells the whole story. Tens of fighters, belonging to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is affiliated with the Fatah movement – the political party that dominates Mahmoud Abbas’ PA – marched on the streets of Ramallah, where the Authority is situated, in a relatively calm environment. The fighters chanted against the Israeli occupation and their ‘collaborators’ before clashing with Israeli soldiers, who were manning the Qalandiya military checkpoint.

This event was quite unusual, for it ushered in the return of a phenomenon that Israel, with the help of its ‘collaborators’, had crushed during the Second Palestinian Intifada –  or uprising – between 2000-2005.

The Israeli military understands that the May war and uprising have triggered an unwelcomed transition in Palestinian society. Long-suppressed, occupied Palestinians are ready to rebel, eager to move on, beyond octogenarian Abbas and his corrupt clique, past the stifling factionalism and self-serving political discourses.  The questions are how, where and when.

This is precisely why Israel is back in Jenin, once more trying to teach the nearly 12,000 refugees there a lesson, one that is also meant for Palestinians throughout the West Bank. Israel believes that if the nascent armed resistance in Jenin is suppressed now, the rest of the West Bank will remain ‘quiet’.

Searching Jenin BookAccording to Palestinian journalist, Atef Daghlas, the Israeli occupation forces killed ten Palestinians during their frequent nightly raids on Jenin. Eight of the victims have been killed since the end of the Gaza war alone. There are two main reasons behind the increased number of casualties among the Palestinians in the last few months: first, the increased number of Israeli raids – where occupation soldiers, often disguising themselves as Palestinians, enter the camp at night and attempt to capture young Palestinian fighters; second, because of the growing number of youth enlisting in various resistance groups. According to Daghlas, the rifles carried by these youth are purchased by the young men themselves, as opposed to being supplied by a group or a faction.

“Blood for blood, bullet for bullet, fire for fire,” were some of the chants that echoed in the Jenin town and its adjacent refugee camp, when the Palestinian residents carried the bodies of two of the four killed youth, before burying them in the ever-crowded martyrs’ graveyard. The fact that Jenin is, once more, openly championing the armed struggle option is sending alarm bells throughout occupied Palestine. Israel is now worried that an armed Intifada is in the making, and Abbas knows very well that any kind of Intifada would spell doom for his Authority.

It is obvious that what is currently taking place in Jenin is indicative of something much larger. Israel knows this, thus the exaggerated violence against the camp. In fact, two of the bodies of killed Palestinians are yet to be returned to their families for proper burial. Israel often resorts to this tactic as a bargaining chip, and to increase the psychological pressure on Palestinian communities, especially those who dare resist.

It might be relevant to note that the Jenin refugee camp was officially formed in 1953, a few years after the Nakba of 1948, the year when historic Palestine was destroyed and the State of Israel was created. Since then, generation after generation, Jenin’s youth continue fighting and dying for their freedom.

It turns out that Jenin never waved the white flag, after all, and that the battle which began in 2002 – in fact in 1948 – was never truly finished.

Feature photo | Palestinian mourners carry the body of Raed Abu Seif and Saleh Ammar, two of four Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the early morning, in the West Bank city of Jenin, Aug. 16, 2021. Majdi Mohammed | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The post ‘Blood for Blood’: On Jenin and Israel’s Fear of an Armed Palestinian Rebellion appeared first on MintPress News.

In Masafer Yatta, Palestinian Children Face Stoning, Car Ramming and Terror from Jewish Settlers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/08/2021 - 5:38am in

MASAFER YATTA, OCCUPIED WEST BANK — It’s the first week of school and Sujoud Awad walks with eight other children from the village of Tuba in the Occupied West Bank to the adjacent village, At-Tuwani, to attend class.

An Israeli military jeep crawls behind the group of children as they pass through the illegal settlement outpost of Havat Maon in order to reach their school. The army is tasked with escorting Tuba schoolchildren to and from At-Tuwani. This is the government’s solution to Havat Maon settlers assaulting children along their commute. Despite the army’s presence, settler attacks persist.

In 2015, Sujoud Awad was attacked by masked settlers after delivering water to her uncle, who was grazing his sheep in the fields. On her way home, settlers from Havat Maon threw stones at her, knocking her to the ground. As she lay down in the dirt, a settler approached and pelted her head with a rock. She now has a scar on her head from the attack.

And just this past May, as Sujoud Awad walked to school accompanied by soldiers, a settler yelled at her and the other children in Arabic, “Sons of bitches, go away from here!” Around the same time, 18-year-old student Hamza Abu Junddiya was swiped by the side-view mirror of a settler’s car as he walked to school. Abu Junddiya fell and injured his hand.

Verbal and physical abuse from settlers is often ignored or completely denied by the soldiers. In Abu Junddiya’s case, the military commander of the area disputed his complaint, saying he fell down on his own and wasn’t hit by a settler.

 

A region plagued by settler and army violence

Masafer Yatta is a region in the South Hebron Hills located in the Israeli-military-controlled Area C of the West Bank. A collection of about 30 agricultural hamlets, Masafer Yatta is home to approximately 4,000 Palestinians who make their living as shepherds and farmers.

Located near a firing zone and encircled by settlements, Masafer Yatta is gripped by settler and army violence.

In the 1980s, the Israeli military declared 12 villages in Masafer Yatta a training zone for the army, referred to as “Firing Zone 918.” The army then evacuated the residents in 1999. Following a petition submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and attorney Shlomo Lecker, the residents were able to return to their villages until the High Court reached a decision.

Masafer Yatta

A lone Israeli policeman is posted near Yatta following a spate of settler attacks on Palestinians on February 6, 2019. Photo | Activestills

Legal battles have dragged on for the past two decades, with the Supreme Court failing to reach a decision. The next court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 19.

Live ammunition has been suspended in the firing zone until a verdict is reached, but military training is still a regular occurrence, with soldiers mowing down fields in Armored Protected Carriers. In February, large combat vehicles ran over cultivated fields — damaging crops and water cisterns — and artillery equipment was left scattered throughout. Days after the operation, a boy lost his hand after encountering a bomb left by the army.

Emboldened by Trump and Netanyahu, Jewish Settler Terrorism is Spiking

 

A community under constant threat

Firing Zone 918 isn’t the only area in Masafer Yatta under imminent risk of expulsion. The Palestinian village of Khirbet Susiya was coveted by Jewish settlers owing to its proximity to an ancient synagogue. In 1983 a settlement was established around it, and in 1986 the Israeli government declared Khirbet Susiya an “archaeological site” and evacuated the residents.

Susiya’s residents were pushed further and further down from their original village in the subsequent decades. Today, they are surrounded by the settlement of Susiya North and the outposts of Havat Har Sinai and Mitzpe Yair.

Susiya experiences ongoing army demolitions and property destruction from both the military and settlers. But for Susiya resident Hamdan Muhammed the perpetual cycle of home demolitions shouldn’t be the media’s sole focus.

“The real problem is after the demolition,” Muhammed said. “What happens when the family loses their home and the father is angry?” He explained:

The kids learn what they watch. They think all the time about [Israel’s] occupation and demolitions. They never think about playing or going swimming. So if the kids, who are the future of the villages here, think about revenge against the settlers or the army, then it becomes a very complicated place and future for them.

Fire zone 918, South Hebron, West Bank, 20.2.2019

Schoolchildren walk through Firing Zone 918- “Masafer Yatta” in South Hebron, West Bank, 20, 2019. Photo | Activestills

According to a recent study by humanitarian aid organization Save The Children, four out of five children in the West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem whose homes have been demolished feel abandoned by the international community. A 16-year-old Palestinian said in the report, “Nobody stopped them — or could stop them again — from destroying our home, our lives. So why should I bother to dream about a good future?”

The study also found that more than 70% of parents and caregivers feel powerless, unable to protect their children from home demolitions, ashamed, and angry. Muhammed said the adults try to provide the children with happy moments — like birthday parties or trips to the park. Yet the impact of Israel’s occupation endures. Muhammed offered a comparison:

If you ask the kids in America or Europe their dreams, they’ll have a sweet dream because they live in a good country. But every week, the Palestinian [children] living here see [property] confiscation and army training with helicopters and tanks, so then what can you think about their future? They have no future really.

From a young age, the children of Masafer Yatta experience settler attacks, demolitions, military drills, nightly army raids, and even arrests. In March, Israeli soldiers arrested four boys picking wild vegetables near Havat Maon after settlers accused them of trespassing and stealing parrots.

Viral Video Shows IDF Arresting Vegetable-Picking Palestinian Kids at Behest of Israeli Settlers

“Soldiers are the settlers’ tools,” Basel Adra, an activist and journalist from At-Tuwani, told a group of international journalists during a press tour of Masafer Yatta earlier this month.

Expanding settlements and escalating settler violence is met with impunity by the Israeli army. And for most Palestinian activists living in Masafer Yatta, the military’s inaction on settler violence is seen as a way to protect the settlers.

 

Violating children’s right to education

Havat Maon is a settlement outpost originating from the nearby Israeli settlement of Maon. Unlike settlements, outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law because they are built without official government approval. Not long after Havat Maon’s construction in 2000, settlers began attacking children walking to school.

American volunteers from the nonprofit organization Christian Peacemakers Teams began accompanying children in 2004 to school to protect against settler violence. But the volunteers’ presence provoked the settlers even more and they attacked the volunteers and children with sticks and chains.

In response, the Israeli parliamentary Committee on the Rights of the Child decided to enact a military escort program for Tuba’s schoolchildren.

“Instead of Israel removing this outpost or at least arresting the criminals [who committed these attacks] or opening an investigation, they didn’t do anything,” Ali Awad, a Tuba resident and activist told MintPress News. “They just had the army accompany the kids every morning and afternoon to and from school.” Ali was one of the first children to participate in this military escort program.

South Hebron

Jewish activists protect Palestinians from Jewish settlers as they walk past the Jewish colony of Adora. Photo | Activestills

“It’s still not really a protection because the criminal settlers are still living there,” Ali said. “Every morning, the kids have to wait for the army to show up and usually the army is late.” Ali explained when the soldiers arrive late the children miss their classes in the morning or are forced to take a six-mile route home in order to bypass the settlement outpost.

Ali recalled waiting for the army with his brother and cousins one afternoon. After three hours of waiting, Ali and his family decided to take the longer route back to Tuba. As they approached a hill just half a mile from their village, a group of settlers chased them. The children ran down the valley to escape the settlers, but one of Ali’s cousins tripped and fell into a stream — breaking her hand, leg, and nose. “It took more than three hours until she was able to reach the hospital [in the nearby city of Yatta],” Ali said. “When she finally did, her body was totally broken.”

Reem Awad skipped a year of school to recover and her parents convinced her to return by saying the army patrols are there to protect the students. “This is not really true,” Ali said. “The soldiers come depending upon their mood. So, if the army didn’t show up again, she might face the same nightmare she had already experienced.”

During the first half of the 2013-2014 school year, religious nonprofit organization Operation Dove found that the army escort arrived late 50% of the time; on six out of 132 school days the soldiers were missing; and on 96% of school days the escort didn’t fulfill all of its protective mandate requirements. One such requirement is for the soldiers to walk alongside the children and not drive in a vehicle behind them. Former students attest that the soldiers rarely interact with them and do not exit their cars.

 

A resolve to keep going

Ali, now 23 years old, finished high school in 2016 and received his bachelor’s degree in English literature this year. Over the years, though, he watched many of his peers drop out of school as the obstacles to finishing their education mounted. In 2004, 21 students were attending school. By 2016, only two (including Ali) graduated from high school.

For Ali, what kept him going was his activism. He said:

If I want to become a shepherd, I would still be suffering. If I want to become an activist, I would still be suffering. So if I have a dream of finishing my school and if I drop it I will still be suffering in my life, then why not try to become more educated and understand what’s going on so I can speak out about it?

Now as his cousin, Sujoud Awad, begins another year of school, she has a similar dream of receiving an education and becoming an English teacher. She said she feels embarrassed, though, walking past settlers swearing at her just so she can learn.

Ali reflected back to his school days waiting hours for the army and imagining how his classmates might be home having lunch already or heading to the playground. He’d watch inside the outpost as settlers drove their children home from the bus station.

“I always felt discriminated against and feel that I am a special case because I have to pass through this to get my education,” Ali said. “Despite all of that, I still had my dream in front of my eyes.”

Feature photo | Israeli forces conducting a “training drill” in the Palestinian villages of Masafer Yatta, February 3, 2021. Keren Manor | ActiveStills

Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News.

The post In Masafer Yatta, Palestinian Children Face Stoning, Car Ramming and Terror from Jewish Settlers appeared first on MintPress News.

My Visit to Lyd, Where Historical and Contemporary Zionist Oppression Meet

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/08/2021 - 1:23am in

LYD, PALESTINE — One of the toughest challenges facing those who fight for justice in Palestine is breaking the Zionist paradigm, which limits the name Palestine to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These two delineations of territory have no historical meaning and no geographical significance. They are no different from other parts of Palestine except that they were drawn by Zionists who, after the murderous 1948 campaign of ethnic cleansing, decided that they would not include those two areas within the boundaries of the Zionist state.

In 1967 the State of Israel occupied these two areas, and today the West Bank exists only in people’s imagination, while the Gaza Strip operates as a prison. After the disastrous Oslo process began in 1993, and the Palestinian Authority came into being, these two areas became known to the world as the State of Palestine.

 

Lyd as it was

In July 2021, I visited the city of Lyd, where I met with Councilwoman Fida Shehada, a Palestinian member of the Lyd City Council who was kind enough to spend a day with me in her city. She gave me a tour of the town before we sat down for a lengthy and detailed interview, which will soon be posted to my Patreon page.

“Lyd has archeological sites that show it is as old as the city of Jericho,” Shehada told me. However, the state and the municipality refrain from excavating because these sites have no value to the Zionist narrative. Lyd is perhaps most famous for being home to the Church of Saint George. The church was built over the grave of the famous Saint George of Lyd, who was buried in the city of his Palestinian mother’s birth after he was martyred in the early fourth century.

Church of Saint George, Lyd

Church of Saint George, Lyd, Palestine

The world-renowned hip hop band “Dam” is also from the city of Lyd. According to their website, “Struck by the uncanny resemblance of the reality of the streets in a Tupac video to the streets in their own neighborhood in Lyd, Tamer Nafar, Suhell Nafar and Mahmood Jrere were inspired to tell their stories through hip hop.”

 

1948 bloodbath

It is becoming clear today that the city of Lyd may well have been the site of the worst massacres by Zionist militia in 1948. In a move more cynical than can be imagined, the municipality of Lyd was renamed Lod in Hebrew, and a plaza was built to commemorate the Palmach right in front of the Dahmash Mosque. The Palmach was the largest of the Zionist militias and was responsible for committing massacres in the city.

The mosque itself was the site of a horrifying bloodbath when citizens from the city, who were fleeing the shooting, crowded into it seeking shelter from the violence. But a Zionist militia headed by Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin took no pity on those seeking refuge and massacred everyone in the mosque. More than 150 men, women and children were gunned down.

Palmach Plaza LYD

The Palmach Plaza in front of the Dahmash Mosque, the site of the massacre, commemorating the murderers as the memory of the victims lingers

Those who were not gunned down at the mosque or on the streets were forced to leave the city, and an estimated 40,000 men, women and children were made to take part in what became known as “The Death March.”

In her book “Palestinian Women, Narrative Histories and Gendered Memory,” published in 2011 by Zed Books, Dr. Fatma Kassem recorded the testimonies of Palestinian women from Lyd who survived the massacres and the forced expulsion.

Some of the women whom Dr. Kassem interviewed had witnessed the massacre at the mosque. One recalled:

The first days when the Jews came in, people went inside the mosques, they thought that the Jews would not kill them in the mosques. But they killed everyone who was inside.”

Another woman remembered:

My father and many others went inside the mosque to protect themselves. He was not fighting. He was an old man. My father and my cousin pushed them into the mosque and [the militia] shot all of them.”

 

The Kaminitz Law

In 2017, the Knesset passed legislation cracking down on “illegal” construction. The provisions of the new law were based on a report written by Deputy Attorney General for Civil Law Erez Kaminitz. According to Fida Shehada, this law has resulted in over 40,000 demolition orders for Palestinian homes in the north and central parts of the country alone — this does not include the Naqab, Jerusalem or the West Bank. The Kaminitz Law is one of many racist laws designed to keep Palestinian citizens of Israel from building homes.

“I remember one day I saw seven homes being demolished all at the same time, at the same minute,” Shehada told me. “I wanted to understand why this was happening and how to prevent this from happening in the future.”

This drove Shehada to study urban planning. But, she said, “then I saw that when they draw plans for the city, they only have plans for the Israeli population, not the Palestinians.” The city does not account for the growth of the Palestinian population, which makes up about 30% to 40% of the city’s population.

Miko Peled Fida Shehada

Miko Peled, left, meets with councilwoman Fida Shehada in the city of Lyd

“We have 30% Palestinian population, but 40% of the school children,” Shehada said, and smiled as she saw the puzzled look on my face. Officially, on record, the Palestinians make up 30%. Still — because of another racist law, called the Citizenship Law, which limits the rights of Palestinians to wed other Palestinians — some are Palestinian women who are married to Palestinian men are deprived of citizenship.

Their children are citizens but cannot attend public schools, “while their mothers are not allowed to study or work or leave their homes.” So, if the father dies, the mother has to leave, and if she takes the children with her back to the West Bank or Gaza, they will lose their status — which, with all its difficulties, is still better than that of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Where Infrastructure Means Prisons: A Drive into the Naqab and the Illusion of Israeli Democracy

 

A new reality?

In an effort to instill the love of settlement activity in the hearts of Israeli Jews, religious Zionist settlers have made Lyd their home. They have their own municipal budgets and luxury apartments built for them exclusively, even as Palestinians struggle to find housing in the city. During the uprising of May 2021, over 500 armed settlers from the racist, violent Regavim movement moved into the city’s municipality. They aimed to incite violence and terrorize the Palestinian population.

When Councilwoman Shehada questioned the mayor about this, he threatened to report her to the Shabak. The Shabak is the Israeli secret police, known for targeting, detaining and torturing Palestinian political activists. She had to remind him that the Shabak does not work for the mayor’s office.

The most surprising thing I saw or heard during my visit to Lyd was a comment by Councilwoman Shehada: “I am very optimistic,” she said with a grin. “Things are changing, we have seen more Palestinians resist and organize, and I believe that we are facing a new reality today.”

If there is room for optimism, Shehada certainly has a big role in it. “I decided to run for mayor in the upcoming elections,” she told me. Local elections are scheduled to be held in the fall of 2021. Even if the world hasn’t come to terms with reality, Palestine stretches from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean and goes right through the ancient Palestinian city of Lyd.

Feature photo | Israeli police officers stand guard as the home of Hana al-Nakib and her four children is being demolished, in the city of Lyd. Yotam Ronen | Activestills

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.” 

The post My Visit to Lyd, Where Historical and Contemporary Zionist Oppression Meet appeared first on MintPress News.

The Quiet Rebellion: Why US Jews Turning against Israel is Good for Palestinians

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/08/2021 - 12:44am in

A unique but critical conversation on Israel and Palestine is taking place outside the traditional discourse of Israeli colonialism and the Palestinian quest for liberation. It is an awkward and difficult – but overdue – discussion concerning American Jews’ relation to Israel and their commitment to its Zionist ideology.

For many years, Israel has conveniently dubbed Jews who do not support Israel, or worse, advocate Palestinian freedom, as ‘self-hating Jews’. This term, designated to describe dissident anti-Zionist Jews, is similar to the accusation of ‘antisemitism’ made against non-Jews, which includes Semitic Arabs, for daring to criticize Israel. This approach, however, is no longer as effective as it once was.

Recent years have unequivocally demonstrated that there is a quiet anti-Israel rebellion within the American Jewish community. This rebellion has been brewing for long, but only fairly recently did numbers begin reflecting the rise of a new phenomenon where US Jews, especially younger generations, are openly dissenting from the typical Jewish conformity on Israel and supposedly undying love for Zionism.

In the last decade or so, this new reality has sounded the alarm within various Zionist institutions, whether in the US or in Israel itself.

Several opinion polls and surveys are all pointing to an inescapable conclusion that the emotional and political rapport between Israel and US Jews is rapidly weakening. A poll published by the Laszlo Strategies for Jerusalem U in August 2013, for example, concluded that 87 percent of American Jews over the age of 50 strongly agreed that “caring about Israel is a very important part of my being Jewish,” while only 66% of young Jews between the ages of 18 to 29 felt the same.

Other polls reached similar conclusions, where the number of young Jews strongly supportive of Israel continues to decline. A particularly telling and important survey was that of the American Jewish Committee in June 2018. That was the time when the US-Israeli alliance reached its zenith under the administrations of Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu. Though 77 percent of all Israelis approved of the US government’s handling of US-Israeli relations, only 34 percent of American Jews did. In fact, 57 percent of US Jews outright disapproved of Trump’s policies, which practically granted Israel all of its demands and wishes.

The downward trajectory continued unabated. A May 2021 Pew research indicated that one in five US Jews believes that the US is “too supportive of Israel”. Those who hold such a belief, 22 percent of the US Jewish population, have doubled in number since an earlier poll released in 2013.

Pew Jew poll

Data gathering for the above poll, though released during the deadly Israeli onslaught on Gaza (May 10-21), was, in fact, conducted in 2019 and 2020. The numbers of unsupportive US Jews must have risen since then, as if there is a clear correlation between Israeli wars resulting in massive civilian casualties, and the ongoing split between US Jews and Israel.

Libby Lenkinski, Vice President for public engagement at the New Israel Fund, told Rolling Stone magazine that she sees a “noticeable shift in American perception” on Palestine and Israel since the deadly Israeli war on Gaza in 2014, a war that killed over 2,200 Palestinians. For Lenkinski, US Jewish perception should follow an ethical paradigm. “It’s a moral issue. It’s right or wrong,” she said.

Similar sentiments emerged after the May 2021 war, where over 260 Palestinians were killed. In a recent article, American Jewish writer, Marisa Kabas, explains the dilemma felt by many in the US Jewish community regarding Israel. “Because the conflict has so often been boiled down to a binary – you either support Israel or you support its destruction – for many of us it felt like a betrayal to even consider the other side.”  Because of the likes of Kabas and Lenkinski and numerous others, the ‘other side’ is finally visible, resulting in the obvious shift in American Jewish perception of and relations to Israel.

While more space for dissenting US Jews is opening up, the discussion in Israel remains confined and is hardly concerned with ethics and morality.

Recently, the understanding that Israel is losing the support of US Jews has been accepted by the country’s main political parties, with disagreement largely focused on who is to blame for this seismic shift. Netanyahu was often held responsible for making Israel a partisan American political issue through his alliance with Trump and the Republican Party, at the expense of Israel’s relation with the Democrats.

From Judaism to Fascism: How Zionists Turned Their Backs on Their Own Culture

However, the Netanyahu-Trump love affair was not as uncomplicated as Netanyahu’s critics would like to believe. Indeed, the idea of Israel has changed in American society. The notion that Israel is a supposedly vulnerable little state, facing existential threats by Arab enemies, which flourished in the past, has become almost entirely irrelevant. The new concept of Israel, which is Tel Aviv’s main selling point in America, is that of a biblical Israel, a place of prophecies and spiritual salvation, which appeals mostly to right-wing Evangelical Christian groups. Young US Jews, many of whom support the Black Lives Matter and even the Palestinian boycott movements, have little in common with Israel’s zealot American backers.

Israel is now at a crossroads. It can only win back the support of US Jews if it behaves in such a way that is consistent with their moral frame of reference. Hence, it would have to end its military occupation, dismantle its apartheid regime and reverse its racist laws. Specifically, abandon Zionism altogether, or abandon US Jews in favor of complete reliance on the Evangelicals. In fact, some top Israeli officials are already advocating the latter.

On May 9, former Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, argued that, since Evangelical Christians are the “backbone of Israel’s support in the United States”, Israel should prioritize their “passionate and unequivocal” backing of Israel over American Jews who are “disproportionately among our critics.”

If Israel officially opts for this choice, perhaps with no other viable option, then a breakdown between Israel and US Jews becomes inevitable. As far as justice and freedom for the Palestinian people are concerned, that would be a good thing.

Feature photo | JVP activist Judith Butler a protest against Israel’s military incursion in Gaza. Photo | Jewish Voice for Peace

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The post The Quiet Rebellion: Why US Jews Turning against Israel is Good for Palestinians appeared first on MintPress News.

Actor Michael Malarkey on Israel-Palestine and Why More Celebrities Don’t Speak Out

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/08/2021 - 12:03am in

The new MintPress podcast “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip-hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know — including intelligence, lobby and special-interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.

Hollywood is not exactly known for being a hotbed of anti-war, anti-imperialist activism. Indeed, so close is the relationship between the national security state and Tinseltown that the Department of Defense casually tweeted out on Oscar Night that it works closely with its “partners” in Hollywood to ensure the military is presented in a positive light.

“Jack Ryan” star John Krasinski went further, explaining that he had an extremely close bond with the CIA. “I owe them everything,” he said. “The CIA is something that we should all not only cherish but be saying thank you for every single day. They’re always trying to do the right thing,” he said of the agency, claiming they “care about the country in a bigger, more idealistic way.”

Hollywood is also a keen supporter of America’s unofficial fifty-first state, and all its highly questionable activities in the Middle East. As Israel was carrying out a blockade of the Gaza Strip, commonly referred to as the world’s largest open-air prison, celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Gerard Butler, Andy Garcia and Pharrell Williams raised over $60 million for the Israeli Defense Forces at a fundraiser.

One celebrity who has spoken up against Israeli actions is the star of “The Vampire Diaries,” Michael Malarkey. As the Israeli government began bombing Gaza in the wake of its storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in May, the 38-year-old actor wrote on his Instagram account:

The obsessive lengths being used to delegitimize anyone taking a stand against Israel’s apartheid regime are deceitful, despicable, and undemocratic. Those who employ such techniques want us to ignore the multitude of human rights abuses, the usage of illegal weapons and warfare, the unending occupation, the illegal annexation of Palestinian territories, and the callous bloodshed of innocents.”

“Now is the time to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel and to openly challenge those few other countries that have long sponsored the Occupation and vetoed UN resolutions condemning it,” he concluded.

Michael Malarkey joins “The Watchdog” host Lowkey today to discuss his career in show business, his political activism, and the difficulties of working in an industry so intertwined with the national security state. “It’s fear-based for a lot of people,” he told Lowkey, explaining why more people in Hollywood do not speak up about their political convictions. “I think we’re at this very interesting and important place in our human history, where we are awakening,” he added, expressing hope that there is now a possibility for building organizations that can fight for a better world.

Born in Lebanon in the wake of the Israeli attack on the country, Malarkey comes from a mixed family: his father is Irish American, his maternal grandfather was born in Nazareth in Palestine. He began his career in theater in London but is perhaps best known for his character, Enzo St. John, on “The Vampire Diaries.” He also plays Sam Foster in “The Oath” and Captain Michael Quinn in “Project Blue Book.”

An accomplished musician, he has also released two albums: “Mongrels” in 2017 and “Graveracer” last year.

Malarkey and Lowkey discuss his upbringing, how Hollywood is a major purveyor of racism, and the link between the weapons industry and the film industry, two of America’s biggest exports.

Follow Lowkey: https://twitter.com/Lowkey0nline

Follow Michael Malarkey: https://twitter.com/mkmalarkey

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MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Also, be sure to check out the new Behind the Headlines channel on YouTube

The post Actor Michael Malarkey on Israel-Palestine and Why More Celebrities Don’t Speak Out appeared first on MintPress News.

Media Paints Israel as “Victim” as Hezbollah Responds to Fresh Israeli Airstrikes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 07/08/2021 - 3:57am in

GOLAN HEIGHTS — Sirens blared in the upper Galilee and Golan Heights, as rockets rained down on Israeli-held territory in the disputed Shebaa Farms area this morning. There were no immediate reports of casualties, but a state of fear did seem to emerge in the largest escalation between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah in 15 years.

Lebanese Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for the firing of the 19 rockets into northern Israel in response to a series of Israeli air and artillery strikes carried out earlier this week on southern Lebanon. The rocket fire reportedly shocked the Israeli military establishment and sparked further aggression against targets in Lebanon’s south; and, in defiance of all evidence, Western mainstream media quickly took to painting Israel as the victim.

This morning’s rocket fire, specifically targeting open areas, was the first of its kind conducted by Hezbollah since the conclusion of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, which ended with the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. Lebanon’s prime minister-designate, Najib Mikati, confirmed following today’s incident that he stands firmly for the continued implementation of the ceasefire resolution, while the nation’s caretaker prime minister, Hassan Diab, had days ago complained to the UN about Israel having violated it.

Hezbollah announced that its retaliatory rocket fire had specifically targeted open areas in the towns of Al-Jarmaq and Al-Shawakir in northern Israel as a clear message to Israel triggered by its aggression against Lebanese territory in the previous days. Following the attack, Israel again carried out attacks on Lebanese territory and it was reported that bomb shelters were open in Israel’s Kiryat Shmona, in anticipation of further retaliation from Lebanon.

Lebanon Israel

A Lebanese soldier displays part of an Israeli missile from an airstrike on a farm in southern Lebanon, Aug 5, 2021. Mohammed Zaatari | AP

Although promising a response to Hezbollah, both “overt and covert”, the Israeli military has indicated that it is not seeking a war with Lebanon over rockets falling in open areas. UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force based in southern Lebanon, claimed that the rocket fire had come from areas outside of its jurisdiction, urging calm on both sides and warning of a “very dangerous situation”.

Speaking to “al-Mayadeen TV,” the deputy secretary general of Hezbollah, Sheikh Naim Qasem, clarified that “with regard to the events that took place today in Lebanon, Israel attacked yesterday and bombed an area in Lebanon, and Hezbollah has publicly committed that an attack on Lebanon means that it will be met with an appropriate response,” also stressing to Israel that it “must understand that Lebanon is not an open arena for settling its accounts in, and not a place to test its capabilities.”

 

A familiar media bias

The focus of Western mainstream media has been heavily centered on Hezbollah’s rocket fire into Israel, with some outlets claiming that Israel had retaliated against Hezbollah and not the other way around. Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty, sometimes numbering into the thousands each month, have been largely ignored by the international community and Western press.

There has also been little action taken by the international community against Israel for its frequent use of Lebanese airspace to launch unprovoked attacks on Syria, the latest of which took place just two weeks ago. Hours following Israeli airstrikes carried out on Aleppo, Syria on July 20, rocket fire from Southern Lebanon triggered sirens in Israel’s north, which was followed by a series of strikes against Lebanese territory.

The rockets, which landed in open areas, were said to have been fired by Palestinian armed groups responding to Israeli attacks on worshippers in Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Unnamed armed Palestinian groups were also blamed for firing rockets into Israel from Lebanon during Israel’s 11-day assault against the Gaza Strip back in May.

When the recent round of tensions escalated this Wednesday, Palestinians were also said to have been behind the seemingly random rocket fire into Israel’s Kiryat Shmona. Besides triggering an immediate response from Israel, the rocket fire also served as a justification for days of Israeli attacks on Lebanese territory, which Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said showed “aggressive intent” from Israel.

The secretary general of Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, has vowed that the group would respond to Israel for the killing of Ali Kamel Mohsen and Muhammad Qassem Tahan. Mohsen was killed by an Israeli airstrike on the Damascus International Airport in Syria last year, while Tahan was shot dead at a border protest in May. According to Nasrallah, each member of Hezbollah or Lebanese citizen that Israel kills will be avenged with an equal retaliation upon the enemy, Israel.

Recent events indicate that the Lebanon-Israel conflict has entered a new phase of escalation, with growing fears of an all out war between the two sides.

Feature photo | Smoke rise from Israeli shelling near the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Shouba, Aug. 6, 2021. Mohammed Zaatari | AP

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts Press TV’s show ‘Palestine Files’. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe’. Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47 .

The post Media Paints Israel as “Victim” as Hezbollah Responds to Fresh Israeli Airstrikes appeared first on MintPress News.

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