2nd Jun 2014
IMEMC & Agencies: Monday at dawn, Israeli Air Force carried out two air strikes targeting two centres run by the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, in Gaza city and in Khan Younis. Sources said the first strike targeted the Abu Jarad site, causing fires and excessive property damage. Firefighters rushed to the scene and contained the fire; no injuries were reported.
The second attack targeted a site known as Hitteen, northwest of Khan Younis city, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
The bombardment led to fire in a number of structures, and in nearby hothouses used by Palestinian farmers.
The spokesperson did not report any injuries or damage.
Palestine: Six, including two Palestinian children, injured in Jerusalem
Local sources said the army attacked Palestinians celebrating the release of Ammar al-Hasry and Ahmad Abu Farha, as they peacefully marched from the al-Aqsa Mosque towards the al-Wad Street.
The sources said the army first used pepper spray against the Palestinians before attacking them with concussion grenades. Soldiers also kidnapped a former political prisoner, identified as Mahmoud Abdullatif.
The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) stated that the soldiers conducted provocative acts against the Palestinians, celebrating the release of the two detainees in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem, and fired concussion grenades at them.
WAFA added that three Palestinians identified as Nour az-Zourba, only 3 years of age, Khaled Barghouth, 13, and Yasser Najib, 32, were moved to a local hospital for treatment. The rest received treatment by local medics at the scene.
The two detainees, al-Hasry and Abu Farha, were released Sunday after al-Hasry spent 14 months in prison, and Abu Farha spent four months.
Palestine: Israeli army invades two Jenin villages, several Palestinians injured
Local sources said the soldiers clashed with local youths in ‘Anza village, and that one child, identified as Hamza Abdullah Sharabty, 14, was shot by a rubber-coated bullet in his leg, while dozens of residents were treated the effects of tear gas inhalation.
The soldiers also invaded Zabbouba village, west of Jenin, and clashed with dozens of local youths who threw stones and empty bottles at them. The soldiers fired gas bombs, causing several Palestinians to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation.
Eyewitnesses said the soldiers were driving in the village’s streets in a provocative manner, and closed some roads, an issue that led to clashes; no arrests were reported.
Earlier on Sunday, soldiers invaded Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, and kidnapped five Palestinians, including on children.
Palestine: 11, including minor, kidnapped by Israeli solders from West Bank
In the Nablus region, the Israeli army raided the village of Asira al-Qibliya, where they abducted eight people after breaking into and searching their homes, damaging their content.
A further raid was conducted on the nearby Askar refugee camp, where forces kidnapped a 21-year-old resident.
In Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers stormed the village of al-Khader and took 13-year-old Ahmad Salah as he was preparing to leave his school.
Sources told WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency that forces arrested a 13-year-old student while he was leaving his school, provoking clashes with locals. Israeli soldiers fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters towards residents, causing a number of cases of suffocation among them.
This morning, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) reports that, in al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces detained two young Palestinian boys, 10-year-old Fares Abu Senene and 7-year-old Haitham Asrawi for one hour.
An ISM activist who was present stated: “When we arrived it was clear the children were really young, far too young to be detained or arrested by heavily armed soldiers. We spoke to several people who saw what happened and they explained there had been an altercation with some settlers from the nearby illegal settlements. It seemed like settlers attacked the children, who tried to fight back, and were then held by the Israeli military. After an hour the children were let go. This incident is just another example of the injustice that Palestinians face from the occupation in al-Khalil.”
Soldiers also raided al-Izza refugee camp, where they kidnapped one youth, age 22, after raiding and searching his home.
In occupied East Jerusalem, Rabbi Yehuda Glick, accompanied by a group of settlers, broke into the courtyards of al-Aqsa Mosque, on Sunday morning, under the protection of Israeli police.
According to witnesses, Israeli settlers stormed the mosque from al- Maghareba Gate and toured the courtyards.
In recent months, Al Ray reports that groups of extremist Jewish settlers, often accompanied by Israeli security forces, have repeatedly forced their way into the Al-Aqsa complex.
The frequent violations anger Palestinian Muslims and occasionally lead to violent confrontations, as the Israeli occupation tightens restrictions over access to the mosque gates with military procedures, checking worshipers’ IDs and summoning them for interrogation them at Qashtala station.
At the end of last March, Al Ray reports that the Israeli police commander in Jerusalem issued a decision to deny Rabbi Yehuda Glick to the al-Aqsa Mosque for four months.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site, with Jews holding the area sacred as the “Temple Mount”.
United Nations reports have revealed that over 200 Palestinians were injured by Israeli military and police forces, during the month of April alone.
Israel occupied the city of Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It was later annexed in 1980, with the Israeli government claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state.
More than 500,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in direct contravention of international law and with full complicity of Western governments, in the form of billions in foreign aid and weapons, each year.
Papal Tour A Fizzer
By Vacy Vlazna
29 May, 2014
When I was a kid we had fun letting off firecrackers. Most had quite an impact – going off with a mighty bang. A few were weak, feeble and fizzled out. We called them ‘fizzers’. The pope’s tour was a fence-sitting fizzer for truth and for Palestinian justice.
Still, Palestinians were warned in advance by the Vatican that the tour had “no political agenda” it was simply a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage, apart from the usual Christian holy sites, to the grave of Theodor Herzl where, flanked by two war criminals, Netanyahu and Peres, Francis, the Vicar of Christ, laid a giant wreath in honour of the mastermind of Zionism that unleashed the atrocities of the Nakba committed by Jewish terrorist militia; the massacres, rapes, looting, demolition of 500 Palestinian villages and the forced deportations and dispossession of 750,000 indigenous Palestinians from their beloved land…a paltry three years after the holocaust.
What a feather in the Zionist cap! A Catholic pope honouring Herzl the Zionist atheist! Francis’ rabbi friend, Abraham Skorka was spot on when he noted that it ‘could be understood as a nod to Zionism’. It was much more than a nod. For the gleeful Netanyahu gang, it was an imprimatur on the expansionism of Greater Israel negating Francis’ two-state solution.
Coincidentally? On the very same day, ten bills were submitted to the Knesset that “could lead to the annexation of Area C which “makes up about 60 percent of the West Bank, including all Jewish towns and settlements.”
In Bethlehem, the pope made an impromptu stop at the illegal Annexation/Apartheid WAll saying a quiet prayer. Vatican officials assured the Israeli Foreign Ministry that Francis “didn’t pray against the security barrier, but he prayed against the situation that forces such a wall to be built.”
So,tit-for-tat, it was agreed that Francis make an impromptu stop at the Israeli Memorial for the Victims of Terror (curiously Palestinian victims were not mentioned on its tablets). Afterwards, the pilgrimage dutifully arrived at the Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem where Francis uttered the apogee of irony, “Never again, Lord, never again” and kissed the hands of 6 holocaust survivors.
He made no pilgrimage, laid no wreath to mourn the tens of thousands of Palestinians murdered by the terrorist state of Israel.
Neither was a papal plea of “Never again, Lord, never again” heard nor even a single flower was laid at the simple graves, of young Muhammad Abu al-Thahir and Nadim Nuwarah shot in the back ten days previously by the peace-loving Israeli military. Of course, the cavalcade avoided the old Muslim cemetery defaced and desecrated to make way for Israel’s Museum of Tolerance.
Franicis’ speeches give the distinct impression that the Palestinian and Israeli narratives are equal i.e. that the Palestinian state which has no army, navy, airforce nor nuclear armaments is a match for Israel which is the fourth largest nuclear military in the world;
“To this end, I can only express my profound hope that all will refrain from initiatives and actions which contradict the stated desire to reach a true agreement.”
To President Abbas, he talked on and on about the importance of religious freedom perchance unaware that not Abbas, but Netanyahu’s government imposed restricted access at Easter for Palestinian Christians to the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or that it was Jews not Muslims who perpetrate hate-crimes against churches as well as sealing plans to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque.
While expressing his “closeness to those who suffer most from this conflict” the pope glaringly omitted mention of Gazan families who really do suffer the most, living, correction, barely surviving 46 kilometres away from His Holiness; perhaps not close enough.
Out of habit, though Abbas is in the middle of negotiations with Hamas for a unity government, he also neglected mention of Gaza and its severe humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s illegal and cruel blockade.
Much has been made of the pope’s acknowledgement of ‘the state of Palestine’ in his speeches. It’s nothing to get excited about; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, made the referencing to Palestine as a state (no longer a territory) official in March 2013 after Palestine was overwhelmingly voted into the United Nations as an Observer State in November 2012.
Despite the clichéd content of the speeches all round, there were standup comedy moments albeit black black comedy:
Pope Francis lauded President Peres as, “a good and wise man”; the same Peres who supplied arms and offered to sell Israeli nuclear warheads to apartheid South Africa violating international embargoes, launched in 1996 ‘Operation Grapes of Wrath’ causing nearly half a million Lebanese to flee their homes, promoted war against Iraq, Iran and Syria and repeats his “denial of the native Palestinians and his reselling in 2013 of the landless people mythology …he denies the existence of approximately twelve million people living in and near to the country to which they belong.” (Ilan Pappe)
The pope said to Abbas, “You are known as a man of peace.” Seriously? Abbas, the head of the American trained Palestinian Authority security forces that brutally suppress Palestinian resistance to Israel ?
Now here’s a doozy from Netanyahu: “Your Holiness, in the heart of the Middle East, the turbulent and violent Middle East, where Christians are often persecuted, Israel is an island of tolerance. We safeguard the rights of all faiths. We guarantee freedom of worship for all and we are committed to maintaining the status quo at the Holy sites of Christians, Muslims, and Jews.” LOL.
The pope’s speeches, infused with diplomacy-speak and euphemisms that inoculate against reality, against the truth, diminished the potential influence for justice and peace he could have wielded not only in the Holy Land but globally. Then again popes are not known for having the courage of true Christ-like convictions.
Francis’ tepid understatement, “I wish to state my heartfelt conviction that the time has come to put an end to this situation which has become increasingly unacceptable.” recalls the tepid statement of the WWII pope, Pius XII:
“Defenders also point to his one public statement as evidence of his concern for the Jews. This is a reference to his 1942 Christmas message, which said, “Humanity owes this vow to those hundreds of thousands who, without any fault of their own, sometimes only by reason of their nationality or race, are marked down for death or gradual extinction.” The statement conspicuously fails to mention the word “Nazi” or “Jew.”
Guenter Lewy, quoted by Cornwell: “A public denunciation of the mass murders by Pius XII, broadcast widely over the Vatican radio and read from the pulpits by the bishops, would have revealed to Jews and Christians alike what deportation to the East entailed. The pope would have been believed, whereas the broadcasts of the Allies were often shrugged off as war propaganda.” Mitchell Bard
Sure, Francis’ speeches contained ambiguities (whom is he addressing) such as;
“[Shoah] enduring symbol of the depths to which human evil can sink when, spurred by false ideologies”
“Who led you to presume that you are the master of good and evil? Who convinced you that you were God? Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters, but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a god.
“So I express my hope and prayer that this blessed land may be one which has no place for those who, by exploiting and absolutizing the value of their own religious tradition, prove intolerant and violent towards those of others.”
But Palestinians in real-time suffering under Israeli apartheid and occupation do not glean hope from ambiguities and diplomatic neutrality. However the truth can set them free.
For the sake of justice, it is beholden of Pope Francis to imitate the plain-spoken Jesus who cleansed the temple with, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” or, at the very least, take a skyrocket from the feisty Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s box of pyrotechnic authenticity:
“I have witnessed the systematic violence against and humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation and pain is all too familiar to us South Africans.
In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime. My conscience compels me to stand with the Palestinians as they seek to use the same tactics of non-violence to further their efforts to end the oppression associated with the Israeli occupation.”
“‘Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.