Tuesday, 21 January 2014

'Democracy' Israeli-style: Peaceful protest ends in deportation and imprisonment


On Saturday 18th January during a peaceful protest in the Jordan Valley, 19-year-old Ahmad Walid Atatreh, a Palestinian activist and 24-year-old Sven W, a German activist who lives in Switzerland, were arrested and beaten after a march held in Jiftlik Adam Junction. Ahmad is a law student, studying at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem.

The march in Jiftlik was organized in protest against a legislation bill recently approved in the Knesset to annex the Jordan Valley to the current state of Israel. While the Israeli government declares that the move is purely for security reasons, the large number of illegal agricultural settlements and theft of Palestinian water rights demonstrate that the motives are largely economic.

Almost 95% of the Jordan Valley lies in Area C, under full Israeli civil and military control. Palestinian Bedouin herders suffer repeated demolitions of their homes and animal shelters, and water tanks are frequently confiscated. A large section of the area is reserved as a firing zone and residents are often forcibly removed from their homes to make way for military exercises.

Approximately 60 people gathered in the Jordan Valley and began a protest holding banners and chanting against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. As the march ended, Israeli forces invaded the area and began to arrest Palestinian demonstrators. Sven W and a British volunteer succeeded in stopping the detention of a Palestinian youth and in the process were both arrested by the Israeli army.

The two international activists were violently pushed to the ground by an Israeli soldier and handcuffed. The British activist managed to escape detention, whilst Sven was blindfolded and forced to kneel on the ground.

One Israeli soldier purposefully pushed Sven’s face in dirty water before taking him behind a military jeep and repeatedly kicking him in the ribs. Ahmad was also beaten after his arrest and received injuries to his knee. The British activist received a similar assault before escaping detention.

During the arrests, Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition into the air, and on several occasions pointed their rifles at protesters’ faces.

Sven and Ahmad were blindfolded for 3 hours and were driven to an Israeli military base. While they were blindfolded, Israeli forces attempted to intimidate and frighten the activists by pointing guns in their faces.

At the military base Sven was told he was a “terrorist” and was arrested because he “threw stones”. more

Israel PM threatens to teach Hamas lesson 'very soon'


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday threatened to teach Hamas a lesson "very soon" after recent cross-border violence.

"We foil terrorist attacks when we identify that they are in the making and we respond against those who attack us," Netanyahu told reporters in Jerusalem at a joint press conference with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper.

"If Hamas and the other terror organizations forgot this lesson, they will learn it again the hard way and very soon," he said.

His warning was issued shortly after Hamas said it had deployed forces in Gaza to "preserve the truce" following an uptick of rocket fire on Israel.

Over the past month, tensions have risen in and around Gaza after more than a year of relative calm following Israel's war on the coastal territory in November 2012 which killed over 170 people, mainly civilians, and injured thousands.

Since Dec. 20, four Palestinians and an Israeli have been killed in violence in and around Gaza. more

Explosion heard in southern Gaza near Israel border


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An explosive device went off in the southeastern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning about 200 meters away from the border with Israel.

Witnesses told a Ma’an reporter that they heard thunderous blast east of al-Qarara village in Khan Younis district. They highlighted that several Israeli military vehicles arrived in the area after the explosion.

An Israeli forces spokesperson confirmed to Israeli media that an explosive device went off in Palestinian territory near the border fence. more

Egypt opens Rafah crossing after 12 days of closure


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip was opened on Tuesday after 12 consecutive days of closure, according to Palestinian officials.

Officials of the Palestinian crossings department confirmed in a statement that the crossing was open on Tuesday morning and a first bus had already crossed into the Egyptian side of the terminal.

Egyptian authorities had decided to open the terminal for three days beginning on Tuesday.

The statement highlighted that the Egyptians would give priority to patients, holders of foreign citizenship and Egyptian citizens.

The Rafah crossing has been the principal connection between Gaza's 1.7 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an economic blockade by the State of Israel beginning in 2007. more