Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

July 2009

Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza at the beginning of the year was a “proportional response” to attacks by the Islamist group, the Foreign Ministry said in a defense brief on Operation Cast Lead released Thursday.

Far-right activists distributed fliers to fresh draftees at the Israel Defense Forces induction center in Tel Hashomer on Tuesday urging them not to confide in their commanders and to refrain from cooperating with investigators if they physically abuse Palestinians in the territories.

Alan Solow, the chairman of American Jewry’s powerful umbrella group, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, raised eyebrows among political observers after his organization issued a statement criticizing President Barack Obama over his stance on Israeli construction in East Jerusalem.

There are now more than 300,000 residents living in Jewish West Bank settlements, according to a Israel Defense Forces Civil Administration report covering the first half of 2009.

As of June 30, the settlements had 304,569 residents, an increase of 2.3 percent since January.

Breaking the Silence added: “The attempts to silence voices from Israeli civil society are dangerous. As opposed to reports, the IDF has never denied the [validity of the] testimonies and it and the foreign ministry’s virulent reaction… only strengthens the position of the testifying soldiers, who are not willing to be exposed.”

The US administration has issued a stiff warning to Israel not to build in the area known as E-1, which lies between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. Any change in the status quo in E-1 would be “extremely damaging,” even “corrosive,” the message said.

IOA Editor: As the seeming confrontation between the Obama Administration and the Israeli government is presented in a crisis-like light, it is worth noting that, so far, no actions were taken by the US to restrain Israel’s on-going colonization efforts on the West Bank. Clearly, the Administration understands how crucial Israeli development of Area E1 would be to a future Palestinian state – essentially, making it no longer viable. Now, the responsibility for preventing such development from happening falls squarely on the White House.

It would seem that as long as Arab educators, academics and policymakers are excluded from planning, there will be no improvement. The Arab minority constitutes nearly 20 percent of Israel’s population, but has little to no real influence over its own education policy, budgets, standards or curricula.

The performances of Amos Kenan’s play “Friends Talk about Jesus,” scheduled for next week at the Arab-Hebrew Theater of Jaffa, have been canceled due to opposition from Jaffa residents.

Diskin told the cabinet Hamas rhetoric had changed somewhat in recent weeks. “Public statements by leaders attest to efforts by Hamas to appear interested in ending the conflict with Israel, based on the model of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in exchange for a long-term hudnah [cease-fire],” Diskin said before Netanyahu silenced him.

IOA Editor: Almost lost in the discussion about Netanyahu’s obnoxious behavior while running a cabinet meeting is the following small detail: According to Israel’s Shin Bet, Hamas appears to be ready for a Hudna (extended cease-fire). Readers of this website might remember that this is not the first time an Israeli government source reports on such willingness. Unfortunately, neither Netanyahu nor his predecessors were interested in pursuing such a possibility.

British diplomats touring the Shepherd Hotel recently in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah expressed concern about Israeli construction plans there, particularly in light of the site’s close proximity to the British consulate in East Jerusalem. The tour, which also included American diplomats, was led by Jerusalem city councilman Meir Margalit of Meretz, who is also active in the Committee Against House Demolitions. During the visit, Margalit said, the British diplomats asked their American colleagues to pressure Israel on the issue and take the lead in applying international pressure to stop settlement building. “The British said explicitly – the Israelis don’t pay attention to us, but if you apply pressure, there is a chance,” Margalit recounted.

The United States views East Jerusalem as no different than an illegal West Bank outpost with regard to its demand for a freeze on settlement construction, American sources have informed both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This clarification came in the context of a growing crisis in U.S.-Israel relations over the planned construction of some 20 apartments for Jews in the Shepherd Hotel, in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The U.S. has demanded that the project be halted, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the cabinet meeting Sunday that “Israel will not agree to edicts of this kind in East Jerusalem.

Palestinian officials said yesterday they were worried the U.S. administration was close to an interim agreement with Israel on settlement construction. According to information that has reached the Palestinian Authority, Israel will not completely halt construction in the settlements but will limit it drastically to the point of almost stopping it. In exchange, Arab countries will implement previously discussed concessions – among them, allowing Israeli planes to cross their airspace and opening diplomatic missions.

The Pope and the cardinals of the Vatican help organize tours of Auschwitz for Hezbollah members to teach them how to wipe out Jews, according to a booklet being distributed to Israel Defense Forces soldiers. Officials encouraging the booklet’s distribution include senior officers, such as Lt. Col. Tamir Shalom, the commander of the Nahshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade.

[Israel’s] Attorney General Menahem Mazuz has told police to investigate workers from the Jewish Agency’s settlement division on suspicion of knowingly allocating private Palestinian land for construction in the settlement of Ofra, [Israeli television] Channel 2 reported on Friday.

A ministerial panel approved Sunday a bill to ban funding by the state of groups that mark the Palestinian Nakba, which commemorates Israel’s independence as a day of mourning… The bill is the revised version of a proposed law scrapped two months ago – after opposition from several ministers – that would have forbidden Israeli Arabs from commemorating the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” on Independence Day.

The proposal by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz to redo all signs so that even names written in Arabic will be transliterations of Hebrew (for example, the city known as Jaffa in English will now be written as Yafo on signs in Arabic, not Yaffa), was received like all other injuries to Arabs: easily – like Arab high-schoolers’ matriculation results or Arab infants’ high mortality rates.

Unlike the cancellation of Leonard Cohen’s concert in Ramallah, which got a lot of press, the cancellation of conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim’s visit to the West Bank city has been kept almost secret. Both cancellations were spurred by different Palestinian groups which warned against what they described as the normalization with the occupation and with Israel.

The village of Imwas (عِمواس) was one of three villages in the Latroun area (Palestine’s District of al-Ramla) that were occupied by the IDF in June 1967, during Israel’s military conquest of the West Bank in the 6-Day War. Subsequently, the inhabitants of the villages were expelled, and their homes leveled to the ground. Where Imwas stood until 1967, Israel (via the Jewish National Fund) planted the Valley of Springs in Canada Park, a recreation forest which serves the purpose of re-writing the history of Palestine by eradicating its Palestinian past. The two other villages were Bayt Nuba (بيت نوبا) and Yalu (الو). Not one of the several thousands of people who lived there until 1967, and very few traces of their physical presence, remain today.

Information on these three Palestinian villages, and on hundreds of others destroyed by Israel since 1948, can be found at www.PalestineRemembered.com.

Born and living in Tamra, Western Galilee. Graduated in Betzalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Graduated Technion, Haifa, Architecture Department.

Two Israel Navy warships made a rare crossing of Egypt’s Suez Canal on Tuesday, heading from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea in a voyage that could be seen as a warning signal to Iran. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that the crossings were legitimate in accordance with an agreement between Cairo and Jerusalem.

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