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The Alternative Information Center (AIC) was established in the 1980s to provide deep insight into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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The MISSION of the (AICP) is to promote the national Palestinian identity and to contribute to the building of a free.

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To contribute to the articulation and application of effective policies to advance a free and democratic Palestinian society
Articles
20 February 2021

The goal? Judaization. The means? A military exercise in the middle of a village

The first shell woke us up at 2 a.m. It was a formidable blast. The room’s metal door shook and the smell of smoke filled the air. I got off the mattress. The explosion was so close, you could hear the soldiers downstairs yelling: “Yalla, keep going. Quick.”

Another shell exploded. The Israeli army was conducting a massive training exercise near Jinbeh, a small West Bank village in the Masafer Yatta area of the south Hebron Hills, home to around 150 Palestinians.

The lights in the houses across the village went on. A few frightened residents rushed outside. When silence fell, Hamdan, who was sleeping beside me, said: “That’s it, I think it’s over. Let’s go back to sleep.”

But then there was another blast. The windows rattled, dogs were howling, my body tightened up — and on it went until 4 a.m. None of Jinbeh’s resident got any sleep that night.

The following morning, we discovered a large number of military equipment down in the valley. Thirty tanks and a convoy of heavy trucks piled with shells were climbing up to the village, flattening the narrow dirt road. One by one, the tanks drove past the dozens of families and children who were standing outside, tired from the night before, and in complete shock.

One grandmother who was born in Jinbeh in 1942 told me that she had never seen anything like it. The army has been conducting military training in the area for decades, she said, but not like this. They had never arrived with tanks all the way up to people’s homes.

In 1980, the Israeli army declared the area as Firing Zone 918, even though 12 Palestinian villages, including Jinbeh, resided there long before Israel was founded in 1948. The army’s goal: displace the Palestinian residents.

As the grandmother was talking, one of the tanks crashed into the stone gate of the house next door. One of the children said he was afraid. Another tank driver waved hello to a young girl dressed in purple, and she waved back. A third tank drove into someone’s yard — its driver most likely got confused along the way.

Another tank veered into the old stone house of 60-year-old Ali. The driver, who looked around 19, was embarrassed. An officer with a grey beard clapped his hands in contempt and yelled: “You loser, is that how you keep the route?”

The IDF conducts a military exercise in Jinbeh, a village in the occupied West Bank, February 3, 2020. (Keren Manor/Activestill.org)
The IDF conducts a military exercise in Jinbeh, a village in the occupied West Bank, February 3, 2020. (Keren Manor/Activestill.org)

Ali got closer and saw that the tank had knocked down large rocks that were now blocking the entrance to his building. The driver didn’t move an inch. The officer yelled again: “Snap out of your shock and run out to get tow cables immediately.”

The tanks continued past the other buildings, but Ali remained outside his house. He asked his son to help him drag the rocks out.

Ali, too, was born here in Jinbeh. He told me that he worked as a construction worker in Israel his whole life, mending structures and roads. In Kibbutz Be’eri. In Nahal Oz. Those were his words.

Ali said he has four brothers, all of whom left Jinbeh over the past decade. They abandoned the village they were born in because of Israel’s policies, because of Firing Zone 918, he remarked. He explained that the army is preventing them from paving roads and is refusing to grant them building permits, or let them connect to water and electricity.

Jinbeh is one of more than 200 Palestinian villages in Area C of the occupied West Bank, over which the Israeli military has full control, that are systematically denied building permits — even though the land is privately owned by the residents.

The army preserves only the old stone houses in the village, like Ali’s. Everything else — the clinic, the school, the soccer field — can be demolished at any moment. It’s a violent policy; a way to pressure people into leaving their private land. This is also why the army declared this area a firing zone, even though it rarely trains here: to compound the pressure.

In 1999, under Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s leadership, Israel issued evacuation orders against the residents of Jinbeh and the other villages in the area, on the claim that they live in a firing zone. But the goal of Judaizing the area can be traced back to the 1967 Allon Plan, created by then-Labor Minister Yigal Allon. It was the Labor Party’s blueprint for settlement-building in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The IDF conducts a military exercise in Jinbeh, a village in the occupied West Bank, February 3, 2020. (Keren Manor/Activestill.org)
The IDF conducts a military exercise in Jinbeh, a village in the occupied West Bank, February 3, 2020. (Keren Manor/Activestill.org)

This tactic of using firing zones to Judaize an area isn’t applied only in the South Hebron Hills. Israel has declared about 18 percent of the West Bank as firing zones for military training. This is roughly as large as the West Bank area under full Palestinian control. During a 2014 Knesset subcommittee meeting on “illegal Palestinian construction in Area C,” Col. Einav Shalev, then operations officer of Central Command, admitted that one of the main reasons for increasing military training in these firing zones is to prevent Palestinian construction.

It is important to stress that these are villages that have existed for many decades. The residents have no way of building legally because the Civil Administration, the arm of Israel’s military responsible for governing Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, denies more than 98 percent of permit requests filed by Palestinians in Area C. To even discuss this issue in terms of legal compliance is absolutely ridiculous, since the law is clearly based on ethnic bias.

Jinbeh’s residents petitioned Israel’s High Court on the basis of a very logical argument: if they are sitting on their privately-owned land, how can the state expel them on the claim that the area is a firing zone? The state argued that while Jinbeh’s residents indeed live in that area, they only stay there for part of the year during certain seasons. Therefore, since the village is not their “permanent residence,” the army can declare the area a firing zone and kick out the inhabitants.

This is false. But even if it were true, it’s still their land, their home.

More than 20 years have passed since the petition was filed, and it keeps getting dragged on from year to year without a ruling. But on the ground there is a ruling: slow displacement.

The Civil Administration comes here every month to demolish homes and infrastructure while refusing to grant building permits, and people eventually give up and leave. But this year, the High Court judge presiding over the case is retiring, which means he has to issue a ruling over the next few months and determine whether the state can expel all the inhabitants.

This is the context behind the military exercise. This is why, after years of not training in this firing zone, the army decided to conduct a drill in close proximity to people’s houses. It’s obvious that ahead of the ruling, the state wants to strengthen its presence in the area.

Prior to the exercise, the military pledged not to enter people’s land or interfere with their daily routine. And yet, soldiers and tanks entered agricultural land several times, and the entire drill — from the shell explosions at night to the invading tanks the following morning — severely upended the lives of Jinbeh’s inhabitants.

There were also those who were very pleased with this exercise: the settlers. The South Hebron Hills Regional Council congratulated the IDF for the drill, writing in a message that increased military training “is one of the ways to increase governance, strengthen control, and enforce law and order in the area.”

Increasing governance, meaning, amplifying Israel’s pressure to expel local communities like Jinbeh, that live in areas the state wants to Judaize. Israel is currently focusing on three West Bank areas: the Jordan Valley, south Hebron Hills, and an area known as E1, which connects East Jerusalem to the West Bank. There, Israel systematically denies building permits to Palestinians in order to force them to leave.

A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Articles
25 January 2021

Palestinian prisoner moved to hospital due to COVID-19 complications

RAMALLAH, Saturday, January 16, 2021 (WAFA) – Abdul Muizz Dhib Al-Jubeh, a Palestinian political prisoner in the Israeli prison of Rimon, was moved to Soroka Medical Center today due to health complications resulting from his coronavirus infection, today said the Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS).

Al-Jubeh, 59 years old who is serving a life sentence and an additional 20 years in prison, has been in prison since 2004 for resisting the Israeli occupation of his homeland. He is already suffering chronic diseases including diabetes, blood pressure and cardiac dysfunctions.

PPS held the Israeli prison authorities fully responsible for the life of Al-Jubeh and the other sick prisoners in Israeli detention who are facing a greater risk of death due to the coronavirus outbreak in the prisons.

So far, at least 250 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have tested positive for the disease.

Al-Jubeh is a father of two children, and is the second Palestinian prisoner to develop serious coronavirus symptoms that necessitate hospitalization. Basel Ajaj, a Palestinian prisoner from Tulkarm, is receiving intensive care at Soroka Medical Center due to contracting coronavirus.

Palestinian officials and international organizations have repeatedly called on the Israeli occupation authorities to release the sick and elderly prisoners who are facing greater health risks due to the coronavirus outbreak.

M.N  

source: 
https://english.wafa.ps/Pages/Details/122878?utm_source=Palestine+Updates&utm_campaign=e05f8fe6f2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_6_22_2018_18_52_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_002b0f7bf9-e05f8fe6f2-30376749

Articles
25 January 2021

60 Israeli teens sign public letter objecting to military service over Israel's policies of apartheid, neoliberalism, and denial of the Nakba

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.


60 Israeli teens sign public letter objecting to military service over Israel's policies of apartheid, neoliberalism, and denial of the Nakba

A letter signed by 60 Israeli senior year high school students in which they refused their compulsory enlistment in the Israeli military is now public…It is historical and novel in that for the first time, it addresses not merely the 1967 occupation, but also the 1948 Nakba, the “continuing Nakba”, and the “violent occupation” of “72 years”. That is, it visions and frames the 1967 occupation as a part of the whole Israeli endeavor since its inception. It notes, for example, that: ‘The actions of the Israeli military in 2020 are nothing but a continuation and upholding of the legacy of massacre, expulsion of families, and land theft, the legacy which “enabled” the establishment of the State of Israel, as a proper democratic state, for Jews only.’ 

In Israel, conscientious objectors like these are often jailed. In 2003 five male conscientious objectors were sentenced to about 2 years prison. The longest-serving female conscientious objector is Hillel Kaminer, who was released from prison after 150 days, in 2016. It is doubtful that those to whom the letter is addressed to will be very affected by it. The most ‘liberal’ among them is probably Benny Gantz, former army chief of staff, who has boasted of bringing Gaza back to the “stone age” as his entry card into politics two years ago. Israeli society is “violent, militaristic, oppressive, and chauvinistic”. Yet there are many among us who listen very closely to what these young people are saying. And here they are defining a critical discourse. The 1967 occupation is not the start and it is not the end. It is part of Israel’s overarching project of occupation; it’s the state in its entirety, enacting “Apartheid policies” as part of its very nature. The “proper democratic state” is a sad joke, it is for Jews only.  


Text of the letter:
We are a group of Israeli 18-year-olds at crossroads. The Israeli state is demanding our conscription into the military. Allegedly, a defense force which is supposed to safeguard the existence of the State of Israel. In reality, the goal of the Israeli military is not to defend itself from hostile militaries, but to exercise control over a civilian population. In other words, our conscription to the Israeli military has political context and implications. It has implications, first and foremost on the lives of the Palestinian people who have lived under violent occupation for 72 years. Indeed, the Zionist policy of brutal violence towards and expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and lands began in 1948 and has not stopped since. The occupation is also poisoning Israeli society–it is violent, militaristic, oppressive, and chauvinistic. It is our duty to oppose this destructive reality by uniting our struggles and refusing to serve these violent systems–chief among them the military. Our refusal to enlist to the military is not an act of turning our backs on Israeli society. On the contrary, our refusal is an act of taking responsibility over our actions and their repercussions.

The military is not only serving the occupation, the military is the occupation. Pilots, intelligence units, bureaucratic clerks, combat soldiers, all are executing the occupation. One does it with a keyboard and the other with a machine gun at a checkpoint. Despite all of this, we grew up in the shadow of the symbolic ideal of the heroic soldier. We prepared food baskets for him in the high holidays, we visited the tank he fought in, we pretended we were him in the pre-military programs in high school, and we revered his death on memorial day. The fact that we are all accustomed to this reality does not make it apolitical. Enlistment, no less than refusal, is a political act.

We are used to hearing that it is legitimate to criticize the occupation only if we took an active part in enforcing it. How does it make sense that in order to protest against systemic violence and racism, we have to first be part of the very system of oppression we are criticizing?

The track upon which we embark at infancy, of an education teaching violence and claims over land, reaches its peak at age 18, with the enlistment in the military. We are ordered to put on the bloodstained military uniform and preserve the legacy of the Nakba and of occupation. Israeli society has been built upon these rotten roots, and it is apparent in all facets of life: in the racism, the hateful political discourse, the police brutality, and more.

This military oppression goes hand in hand with economic oppression. While the citizens of the Occupied Palestinian Territories are impoverished, wealthy elites become richer at their expense. Palestinian workers are systematically exploited, and the weapons industry uses the Occupied Palestinian Territories as a testing ground and as a showcase to bolster its sales. When the government chooses to uphold the occupation, it is acting against our interest as citizens– large portions of taxpayer money is funding the “security” industry and the development of settlements instead of welfare, education, and health.

The military is a violent, corrupt, and corrupting institution to the core. But its worst crime is enforcing the destructive policy of the occupation of Palestine. Young people our age are required to take part in enforcing closures as a means of “collective punishment,” arresting and jailing minors, blackmailing to recruit “collaborators” and more– all of these are war crimes which are executed and covered up every day. Violent military rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is enforced through policies of apartheid entailing two different legal systems: one for Palestinians and the other for Jews. The Palestinians are constantly faced with undemocratic and violent measures, while Jewish settlers who commit violent crimes– first and foremost against Palestinians but also against soldiers- are “rewarded” by the Israeli military turning a blind eye and covering up these transgressions. The military has been enforcing a siege on Gaza for over ten years. This siege has created a massive humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and is one of the main factors which perpetuates the cycle of violence of Israel and Hamas. Because of the siege, there is neither drinkable water nor electricity in Gaza for most hours of the day. Unemployment and poverty are pervasive and the healthcare system lacks the most basic means. This reality serves as the foundation on top of which the disaster of COVID-19 has only made things worse in Gaza.

It is important to emphasize that these injustices are not a one-time slippage or straying away from the path. These injustices are not a mistake or a symptom, they are the policy and the disease. The actions of the Israeli military in 2020 are nothing but a continuation and upholding of the legacy of massacre, expulsion of families, and land theft, the legacy which “enabled” the establishment of the State of Israel, as a proper democratic state, for Jews only. Historically, the military has been seen as a tool which serves the “melting pot” policy, as an institution which crosscuts social class and gender divides in Israeli society. In reality, this could not be further from the truth. The military is enacting a clear program of ‘channeling’; soldiers from upper-middle class are channeled into positions with economic and civilian prospects, while soldiers from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are channeled into positions which have high mental and physical risk and which do not provide the same head start in civil society. Simultaneously, women’s representation in violent positions such as pilots, tank commanders, combat soldiers, and intelligence officers, is being marketed as feminist achievement. How does it make sense that the struggle against gender inequality is achieved through the oppression of Palestinian women? These “achievements” sidestep solidarity with the struggle of Palestinian women. The military is cementing these power relations and the oppression of marginalized communities through a cynical co-opting of their struggles.

We are calling for high school seniors (shministiyot) our age to ask themselves: What and who are we serving when we enlist in the military? Why do we enlist? What reality do we create by serving in the military of the occupation? We want peace, and real peace requires justice. Justice requires acknowledgment of the historical and present injustices, and of the continuing Nakba. Justice requires reform in the form of the end of the occupation; the end of the siege on Gaza; and recognition of the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Justice demands solidarity; joint struggle; and refusal.


Source :

https://mondoweiss.net/2021/01/israeli-high-school-students-refuse-to-join-the-israeli-military-citing-the-continuing-nakba/?utm_source=Palestine+Updates&utm_campaign=2e88067f81-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_6_22_2018_18_52_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_002b0f7bf9-2e88067f81-30376749

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