Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Israeli government, hostage of the settlers

PM approves eastward move of section of separation fence

By Meron Rapoport, Haaretz Correspondent, and the Associated Press

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has approved the moving of the separation barrier at least five kilometers eastward from the Green Line in the area of Modi'in Ilit, in order to take in the settlements of Nili and Na'aleh, according to security sources and a brief submitted by the state to the High Court of Justice.

The new route will create two Palestinian enclaves containing about 20,000 people. Nili and Na'aleh together have some 1,500 residents.

Palestinian officials on Wednesday condemned the plan as an attempt by Israel to annex territory they claim for a future state.


Olmert approved the change in response to pressure from residents of the two settlements, both of which would have been left outside the barrier, according to the route approved by the cabinet last April. The new route will lengthen the fence by about 12 kilometers, which will cost an estimated NIS 120 million.

If the cabinet approves Olmert's decision, it will be the first time part of the fence has been moved eastward after receiving cabinet approval. Hitherto, all such changes have moved the fence westward, toward the Green Line, the pre-1967 border that separates Israel and the West Bank.

Nili and Na'aleh, both secular settlements, are located some five kilometers from the Green Line. Originally, they were supposed to be surrounded by a "double fence" - one along the Green Line and one to their east - that would have trapped five Palestinian villages, with some 17,000 residents between them.

In June 2004, however, the High Court ordered a section of the fence near Jerusalem dismantled on the grounds that it caused disproportionate harm to local Palestinians, and the defense establishment feared that the court would do the same to the Nili-Na'aleh section.

It therefore proposed a new route that eliminated the eastern fence and left Nili and Na'aleh outside the western fence, and in April 2006, the cabinet approved this route.

Rani Hernik, chairman of the Na'aleh local council, said that leaders of both settlements then began intensive lobbying in an effort to get the route changed again. Their main argument, he said, was that both settlements are on state land and would thus not interfere with the Palestinians' "fabric of life," and therefore, the court would be likely to approve a route that included them.

Colonel Danny Tirza, then the official in charge of planning the fence's route, was the main person pushing to include Nili and Na'aleh, Hernik said. (The Defense Ministry subsequently removed Tirza from his position, because of an inaccurate affidavit he submitted to the High Court.)

Hernik said that the proposal to include the two settlements within the fence ended up on Olmert's desk, "and as far as I know, received his authorization." Security sources confirmed that Olmert approved the change in principle last November and asked the defense establishment to prepare a formal proposal for the cabinet.

And in response to a petition against the route approved by the cabinet last April, the Justice Ministry recently told the High Court that "a proposal to change the route of the security fence to include the Israeli settlements of Nili and Na'aleh and part of the road connecting the Nili-Na'aleh Junction to Kiryat Sefer (Modi'in Ilit) is due to be presented to the Israeli government."

Hernik said that a new road is also due to be paved, which will connect Modi'in Ilit, Nili and Na'aleh with the settlement of Ofarim. Palestinians will not be permitted access to this road, but two tunnels will be built under it to allow Palestinian traffic to transverse it.

The result is that some 17,000 Palestinians will be stuck in an enclave bounded by the fence along the Green Line to the west, and the road and the Nili-Na'aleh fence to the east. Another village, with some 2,000 residents, will be enclosed by the new fence route on three sides.

Olmert's office said in response that he has received a proposal to connect the defenses around Nili and Na'aleh to the barrier and is currently studying it. When he finishes, he will bring it to the cabinet for discussion.

The Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces said that the defense establishment "is currently engaged in staff work to examine the various alternatives," including proposals to encompass the two settlements with a security fence and to protect the access road connecting them with Kiryat Sefer.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

"I've lost my heart".

(c) Anne Paq/ For Abir...

Twilight Zone / 'I've lost my heart'
By Gideon Levy

Was it the stun grenade that hit her head, the shock caused by its explosion or the rubber bullet fired by the Border Police? Does it make any difference? Did the Border Policeman intend to kill a child of 11 - or not? What difference does it make? The real question is why Border Policemen come almost daily to Anata, doing the devil's work, as it were, just when children are on their way home from school? What are they looking for, for heaven's sake, near a school in Anata, a West Bank town located northeast of Jerusalem? The Border Police come, the schoolchildren throw stones, the police fire and kill another innocent little girl - and nobody is called to account. The Shai (Samaria and Judea) police district is investigating, but not the Police Investigation Department.

In recent weeks we wrote here about the laborer Wahib al-Dik from the village of Al-Dik and about the "horse boy," Jamil Jabji, from the Askar refugee camp, who were killed for the crime of throwing stones. Now Abir Aramin, 11, has joined them. Death to stone throwers or those around them.

But Abir's story is somewhat different: She is the "daughter of." Her father is an activist in Fighters for Peace, an organization of people from both the Palestinian and Israeli sides, who have decided to doff their uniforms, set aside their weapons and talk peace. Aramin has lectured in recent months in dozens of places all over the country, in living rooms and at schools and universities, from Hatzor Haglilit to Kfar Sava. A few days before he lost his daughter, he appeared before students at Tel Aviv University. Now he too is a bereaved father.


The mourners' tent next to the local council building in Anata blew away this week in the wind. Inside the building they served bowls of lamb, rice and yogurt ladled out of huge pots once used by the Israel Defense Forces, kosher for dairy meals. Dozens of despondent men wandered around, in shock. In the office of the council head, where there is a blown-up reproduction of Yasser Arafat's passport on the wall, we listened for a long time to Bassam Aramin. Read his painful monologue, listen to what he says. Such words have not been heard for a long time.

Aramin is 38 years old, the father of six children including Abir. He spent seven years in Israeli prisons and is a native of the village of Seir near Hebron. Since his marriage, he has been living in Anata, Jerusalem's backyard. He works at the Palestinian National Archive Center in Ramallah, he speaks fluent Hebrew. Thanks to the blue ID card of her Jerusalemite mother, Abir was a resident of Israel.

"We met for the first time on January 16, 2005, exactly two years before the day that Abir was killed. We met seven former Israeli soldiers who refused to serve and wanted to meet Palestinian fighters. We met at the Everest Hotel in Bethlehem. Four Palestinians and seven Israelis. The meeting was very difficult. For the first time you're sitting with the guy who humiliates you, who fires at you, who detains you at the checkpoints, who participates in all the operations against you in the West Bank. At first we thought that they might be members of the Shin Bet security services or soldiers from Duvdevan [an IDF undercover unit], who had come to set a trap for us. I also saw the fear in the eyes of the Israelis who though we might be about to kidnap them. Maybe to kill them.

"I was arrested for the first and last time in 1985, at the age of 16. When you're a child, you have a certain background. A child like me, who began his struggle by raising a Palestinian flag at night - I didn't need education or incitement. I felt that I had no choice but to oppose the persons who had come to beat me up, strange people who didn't speak our language; we didn't understand what they wanted. When I would ask my father, who is now 95, what's this, who are these people, he would say to me: These are Jews. And what do they want? They want to occupy us. Why? He didn't know how to explain this to me. All we wanted was for the strangers to get out of the village, out of our playground, for nobody to bother us. At the stage I'm talking about I couldn't have explained the meaning of freedom, independence, Palestine, it didn't interest me.

"Once there was a demonstration in Halhul in memory of a female student who had been killed. I was 12 years old and soldiers came and started to shoot. How did they come so quickly, falling out of the sky? There's a demonstration and they come immediately, with tear gas and bullets. I was so afraid. The people scattered. I have a limp from birth, I wanted to run away, but I couldn't flee like the other children and the soldiers caught me. What a memory that is. Very big, frightening soldiers and they hit me a few times and I fell to the ground. I fled and I thought that I had to take revenge. I hadn't done anything to them - and they always did that to us. I fled in the direction of the mountains and there was shouting in the wadi. We found a farmer with six bullets in his legs, who had only been working on his land. How I cried over him.

"I saw the soldiers going crazy when they saw a Palestinian flag. I didn't understand what it symbolized and I had no weapon, I had no way to resist, so if they hated the flag, I would show them. That's how I began to appreciate this thing, although I didn't understand its significance. I went back home and searched through my clothes by color, I took everything that was black, red, green and white, without my mother catching me, and I went to friends and we sewed a flag. At night we went to the tallest tree in school and tied the flag to the tree. The next day the soldiers came. That was our child's play, our violent struggle for months, until the soldiers got tired of it and they cut down all the trees at the school. Then we went over to electricity and telephone poles and also began to write 'Long Live Palestine' on the walls. That was our hope: to redeem Palestine. If this flag stays up, we thought, we'll win.

"Afterward we saw that it didn't work. Talking and writing didn't help, and throwing stones was a waste of time, so we wanted weapons. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we found some old weapons in a cave that had belonged to Jordanian soldiers who fled in 1967. Two hand grenades and a pistol. I said to myself: From now on there's no such thing as Israel. I have weapons. All we have to do is get bullets, a bullet for each Israeli.

"I felt that I was an adult, no longer a child, but my friends told me that I couldn't come with them because I limped and we wanted the mission to succeed. They threw two grenades at soldiers and nobody was hurt, and they shot at a jeep and nobody was wounded. They all went to prison for many years, without blood on their hands. I was also arrested and found myself in jail for seven years. A fighter, a hero, I switched from child's play to being serious, and in prison I found myself wanting to read about the struggle, to know what the Palestinian problem was, who the Jews were, why there was an occupation, to understand the situation of which I was a part. I began to understand our problem, our history and that of the Jews - from the time of their slavery in Egypt and how they went through the Holocaust and how we are now paying the price for their suffering.

"When I watched a film about the Holocaust, in 1986, in Room 6 of Wing C in the Hebron prison, I understood many things. Before the film I had asked myself why Hitler didn't kill all of them; had he killed all of them I wouldn't be in prison. But I wanted to concentrate on the film and to understand what the Holocaust was. After 15 minutes at the film I found myself crying over those people who were about to die naked, for no fault of their own, only because they were Jews. Most of the other prisoners were sleeping; I didn't wanted anyone to see me crying. Who are you crying over? Over the people who put you in prison, who are occupying us?

"In the film I saw people with their heads down. Without resistance. People being buried alive with bulldozers, entering to be gassed, to suffocate and to die, and people who entered the ovens. It hurt me very much and I was also angry about how a person was about to die and didn't put up any resistance. Not even to shout, so that you'll know you're alive.

"On October 1, 1987 almost 100 soldiers entered our [prison] youth wing, most of them masked. We all had to strip, which is a very humiliating thing for us, and we had to pass through the corridor. From both sides you would get beaten until you reached the courtyard. I remembered that I had been angry at the Jews who didn't resist in the Holocaust and without realizing it I began to shout. After a few minutes I no longer saw the soldiers. I felt that I was stronger than them. We were some 120 children who were beaten. When I asked the duty officer why, he told me: They don't belong to the prison; they're soldiers on a training exercise. They were trained in how to kill a person's humanity, to generate only revenge in his mind.

"Many things that I saw in the film about the Holocaust I saw afterward in life. I saw in the intifada how they buried people alive in Salem, and how they killed a woman and left her on the road, just as in the film where I saw a Nazi officer who fired at a woman from his window and afterward people passed by and left her on the road. How can someone who knows the taste of suffering, slavery and racism do the same thing to another nation? In spite of that I had many friends among the prison guards, but for me Israelis were the soldiers, the settlers and the prison guards.

"When I was released in 1992 an atmosphere of hope had already become evident. I got married and started to have children. I would always dream about them, that they wouldn't live the bad life my generation lived. I wanted to protect them. To explain everything to them so that they wouldn't grow up like me, not knowing anything. That they would know what Palestinians are and what Israelis are ... that they would fight against the occupation and help develop a good economy, that they would play, create and study like all the children. All the children want to be doctors; actually Abir wanted to be an engineer. That's the way I wanted to raise my children.

"I found myself in Fighters for Peace and after the first meeting we knew that we were going to be together for a long time, and that we had a great responsibility to fight for life, for freedom, to explain the value of human life, because we are the instruments of war on both sides. To explain to the Israelis who don't know what occupation is that their sons are becoming cruel murderers who think that they are protecting security and are doing the opposite, endangering security.

"Once a female student approached me after a lecture in Hatzor Haglilit - I was told that it was a very difficult place that had been the target of many Katyushas - and she said to me: You're the first Palestinian I've met. She embraced me and said to me: 'Now I've made peace with the Palestinians. I will no longer believe the news, or the government, or all the lies. I've simply understood.' That greatly encouraged me, because here there was someone on the other side who understood and accepted you."

"Last Tuesday I was still sleeping when Abir went to school. She had a math test. At 9:30 I went off toward Ramallah to work. Abir had told me a day before that she wanted to go to a girlfriend's house to study, and I said to her: Oh no, you won't. I'll help you study.

"I was riding in a taxi, looking out for my daughters who were coming out of school. On the left I saw a Border Police jeep. I looked at them and thought: Why are they coming now? To abuse our children? Inshallah, nothing will happen. My daughters will only inhale gas. When I arrived at the Al-Ram intersection a teacher from the school called me and told me that Abir had fallen, and asked that her mother come to school to pick her up. I called home to tell her mother, and Arin, my older daughter, who is 12, was crying. I didn't understand a thing. A neighbor took the phone and told me: The soldiers fired at your daughter's head and she's been wounded.

"I called the school and they told me they had taken her to Makassed Hospital [in East Jerusalem]. I immediately drove to Makassed, on the way I saw the Border Police jeep next to the local council building, but I thought that there was no time for speeches now. When I arrived at Makassed they told me that her condition was very critical. They told me she needed an operation. I was afraid and I told them that she had an Israeli ID and I wanted to take her to Hadassah Hospital. In order speed things up I contacted the Peres Center for Peace, whose staff really helped me and sent a Magen David Adom ambulance and took her to Hadassah. There they decided that no operation was necessary. Thank God, I said to myself.

"At 7 P.M. her condition deteriorated; suddenly she needed an operation. We have to hope for a miracle, the doctors told me. I understood that my daughter needed a miracle and there are no miracles these days. I told myself that I didn't want to take revenge. The revenge is that this 'hero,' whom my daughter endangered and shot at, be put on trial. Afterward she was officially declared dead.

"From what I was told I understood that the children threw stones and the Border Police threw a grenade at Abir's head, from behind, from a distance of four meters. At first they said she had been wounded by a stone. I'm familiar with that game, but I didn't believe that they would sink to such a despicable level - sorry for using that word - when they said on Channel 2 that Abir had been playing with something that exploded on her head. Her fingers were whole and her head exploded? They're contemptible, I said. Liars. They send a boy of 18 with an M16 and tell him that our children are his enemies, and he knows that nobody will stand trial and therefore he shoots in cold blood and turns into a murderer.

"I'm not going to exploit the blood of my child for political purposes. This is a human outcry. I'm not going to lose my common sense, my direction, only because I've lost my heart, my child. I will continue to fight in order to protect her siblings and her classmates, her girlfriends, both Palestinians and Israelis. They are all our children."

Friday, January 26, 2007

More lies from IDF and Israeli Police

Family of a ten-year-old Palestinian child killed by the army demand justice to be served

author Friday January 26, 2007 02:02author by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agenciesauthor

Family of Abeer Al Arameen, a ten-year old Palestinian girl killed by the Israeli army in Anata town, north east of Jerusalem, demanded the Israeli army to conduct a probe into her death and to prosecute the soldiers responsible.

The girl was killed after she was hit by a rubber-coated bullet fired by the army, but the Israeli police claims that it is possible that one of the stones hurled by Palestinians at the army hit her in the head.

But the family published an autopsy report determining that their child was killed by a rubber-coated bullet that hit her in the head.

The Israeli police in the occupied West Bank did not completely rule out this possibility, and said that it is conducting a probe into the issue, but stated that one of the possibilities is that she was hit by a stone hurled by Palestinians.

But, the Israeli police said that the cause of death “would be determined only when the investigation is concluded”, and rejected the possibility that the girl was hit by a stun grenade.

The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in The Occupied Territories, B'Tselem, reported that it conducted a probe at the location of the shooting and collected testimonies that revealed that there was no clashes at the time of the shooting.

The Israeli border police claimed that shots were not fired while the troops were dispersing the claimed “riots”.

Several leftists and peace activists protested against the child's death and passed pictures of her along the city streets in Jerusalem.

The protesters accused the Israeli border police of killing the 10-year-old child.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

following the killing of 10-year old girl in Anata

(c) Anne Paq/
Wall next to Anata boy's school, 2006.

Let our children live
Nurit Peled-Elhanan writing from Israel, Live from Palestine, 22 January 2007

Palestinians attend the funeral of Abir Aramin after she was killed by Israeli soldiers in Anata refugee camp near Jerusalem, 19 January 2007. (MaanImages/Moamar Awad)

Bassam Aramin spent nine years in an Israeli jail for being a member of the Fatah in the Hebron area and trying to throw a grenade at an Israeli army Jeep which was patrolling in Occupied Hebron. On Wednesday morning, an Israeli soldier shot his nine-year-old daughter, Abir, in the head. The soldier will not spend an hour in jail. In Israel, soldiers are not imprisoned for killing Arabs. Never. It does not matter whether the Arabs are young or old, real or potential terrorists, peaceful demonstrators or stone throwers. The army has not conducted an inquiry in Abir Aramin's death. Neither the police nor the courts have questioned anyone. There will be no investigation. As far as the Israeli Defense Forces are concerned, the shooting did not happen. The army's official account of her death is that she was hit by a stone that one of her classmates was throwing "at our forces."

We who live in Israel know that stones thrown by 10-year-olds do not blow brains out. Just as we see every day the Israeli jeeps circling Palestinian children on their way to and from school and greet them with stun-bombs, "rubber" bullets and riot control gas.

A bullet penetrated Abir Aramin's skull, while she was walking to school with her sister. I saw her just afterwards at Hadassah Hospital, where she slept quietly in a huge hospital bed. Abir's face was white. Her huge eyes were closed. By then, she was already brain-dead, and the doctors decided to allow the rest of her to die. I saw clearly that her head had been shot from behind. A young student who witnessed her shooting told journalists that the Israeli border police, part of the IDF, drove up to the girls as they came out of their school examinations: "The girls were afraid and started running away. The border police followed them in the direction in which they were retreating. Abir was afraid and stood against one of the shops at the side of the road. I was standing near her. The border policeman shot through a special hole in the window of his jeep that was standing very close to us. Abir fell to the ground ... I saw that she was bleeding from the head."

Abir Aramin
Abir Aramin is dead. The doctors at Hadassah will not disclose the cause of her death to her parents or her friends. Her family has requested an autopsy. Her father, Bassam Aramin, is one of the founders of Combatants for Peace. My son, who served as an Israeli soldier in the occupied territories, is also a member. They are friends. Bassam told us that he cannot rest until his daughter's killer convinces him that nine-year-old Abir threatened his life or the lives of the other soldiers in his jeep. I fear he will never have the chance to rest.

Abir Aramin has joined in the underground kingdom of dead children the thousands of other children killed in this country and the territories it occupies. She will be welcomed by my own little girl, Smadar. Smadar was killed in 1997 by a suicide bomber. If her killer had survived, I know he would have been sent to prison for his crime and his house would have been demolished on the rest of his family.

In the meantime, I sit with her mother Salwa and try to say, "We are all victims of occupation." As I say it, I know that her hell is more terrible than mine. My daughter's murderer had the decency to kill himself when he murdered Smadar. The soldier who killed Abir is probably drinking beer, playing backgammon with his mates and going to discotheques at night. Abir is in a grave.

Abir's father was a warrior who fought the occupation -- officially a "terrorist," although it is a strange logic that terms those who resist the occupation and dispossession of their people as terrorists. Bassam Aramin is still a fighter -- but as a peace activist. He knows, as I know, that his little dead girl takes all the reasons for this war to her grave. Her small bones could not bear the burden of life, death, vengeance and oppression that every Arab child here grows up with.

Bassam, as a Muslim, believes he must pass a test -- as a man of honour not to seek revenge, not to give up, not to neglect the struggle for dignity and peace on his own land. When he asked me where we find strength to go on, I said the only thing I could think of: from the children who are left to us. His other children, my three living sons. From the other Palestinian and Israeli children who have a right to live without their elders forcing them into being occupiers or occupied. The so-called enlightened, western world does not get what is happening here. The whole enlightened world stands aside and does nothing to save little girls from murderous soldiers. The enlightened world blames Islam, as it once blamed Arab nationalism, for all the atrocities the non-Islamic world is inflicting upon Muslims. The enlightened west fears little girls with scarves on their heads. It is terrified of boys in keffiyehs. And in Israel, children are educated to fear, most of all, the fruits of the Muslim womb. Therefore, when they become solldiers, they see nothing wrong in killing Palestinian children "before they grow." But Basam and Salwa and all of us -- Jewish and Arab victims of the Israeli occupation -- want to live together just as we die together. We see our children sacrificed on the altar of an occupation that has no basis in law or justice. And, outside, the enlightened world justifies it all and sends more money to the occupiers.

If the world does not come to its senses, there will be nothing more to say or write or listen to in this land except for the silent cry of mourning and the muted voices of dead children.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Impossible to travel

(c) Anne Paq/ Inside Qalandia terminal/ a l'interieur du terminal de qalandia.

Impossible travel

By Amira Hass

All the promises to relax restrictions in the West Bank have obscured the true picture. A few roadblocks have been removed, but the following prohibitions have remained in place. (This information was gathered by Haaretz, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Machsom Watch)

Standing prohibitions

* Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are forbidden to stay in the West Bank .

* Palestinians are forbidden to enter East Jerusalem .

* West Bank Palestinians are forbidden to enter the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing.

* Palestinians are forbidden to enter the Jordan Valley .

* Palestinians are forbidden to enter villages, lands, towns and neighborhoods along the "seam line" between the separation fence and the Green Line (some 10 percent of the West Bank ).

* Palestinians who are not residents of the villages Beit Furik and Beit Dajan in the Nablus area, and Ramadin, south of Hebron , are forbidden entry.

* Palestinians are forbidden to enter the settlements' area (even if their lands are inside the settlements' built area).

* Palestinians are forbidden to enter Nablus in a vehicle.

* Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are forbidden to enter area A (Palestinian towns in the West Bank ).

* Gaza Strip residents are forbidden to enter the West Bank via the Allenby crossing.

* Palestinians are forbidden to travel abroad via Ben-Gurion Airport .

* Children under age 16 are forbidden to leave Nabus without an original birth certificate and parental escort.

* Palestinians with permits to enter Israel are forbidden to enter through the crossings used by Israelis and tourists.

* Gaza residents are forbidden to establish residency in the West Bank .

* West Bank residents are forbidden to establish residency in the Jordan valley, seam line communities or the villages of Beit Furik and Beit Dajan.

* Palestinians are forbidden to transfer merchandise and cargo through internal West Bank checkpoints.

Periodic prohibitions

* Residents of certain parts of the West Bank are forbidden to travel to the rest of the West Bank .

* People of a certain age group - mainl y m en from the age of 16 to 30, 35 or 40 - are forbidden to leave the areas where they reside (usually Nablus and other cities in the northern West Bank ).

* Private cars may not pass the Swahara-Abu Dis checkpoint (which separates the northern and southern West Bank ). This was canceled for the first time two weeks ago under the easing of restrictions.

Travel permits required

* A magnetic card (intended for entrance to Israel , but eases the passage through checkpoints within the West Bank ).

* A work permit for Israel (the employer must come to the civil administration offices and apply for one).

* A permit for medical treatment in Israel and Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem (The applicant must produce an invitation from the hospital, his complete medical background and proof that the treatment he is seeking cannot be provided in the occupied territories).

* A travel permit to pass through Jordan valley checkpoints.

* A merchant's permit to transfer goods.

* A permit to farm along the seam line requires a form from the land registry office, a title deed, and proof of first-degree relations to the registered property owner.

* Entry permit for the seam line (for relatives, medical teams, construction workers, etc. Those with permits must enter and leave via the same crossing even if it is far away or closing early).

* Permits to pass from Gaza , through Israel to the West Bank .

* A birth certificate for children under 16.

* A long-standing resident identity card for those who live in seam-line enclaves.

Checkpoints and barriers

* There were 75 manned checkpoints in the West Bank as of January 9, 2007.

* There are on average 150 mobile checkpoints a week (as of September 2006).

* There are 446 obstacles placed between roads and villages, including concrete cubes, earth ramparts, 88 iron gates and 74 kilometers of fences along main roads.

* There are 83 iron gates along the separation fence, dividing lands from their owners. Only 25 of the gates open occasionally.

Main Roads closed to Palestinians

* Road 90 (the Jordan Valley thoroughfare)

* Road 60, in the North (from the Shavei Shomron military base, west of Nablus and northward).

* Road 585 along the settlements Hermesh and Dotan.

* Road 557 west from the Taibeh-Tul Karm junction (the Green Line) to Anabta (excluding the residents of Shufa), and east from south of Nablus (the Hawara checkpoint) to the settlement Elon Moreh.

* Road 505, from Zatara ( Nablus junction) to Ma'ale Efraim.

* Road 5, from the Barkan junction to the Green Line.

* Road 446, from Dir Balut junction to Road 5 (by the settlements Alei Zahav and Peduel).

* Roads 445 and 463 around the settlement Talmon, Dolev and Nahliel.

* Road 443, from Maccabim-Reut to Givat Ze'ev.

* Streets in the Old City of Hebron .

* Road 60, from the settlement of Otniel southward.

* Road 317, around the south Hebron Hills settlements.

Travel time before 2000 versus today

Tul Karm-Nablus
Then: half an hour, at the most.
Now: At least an hour.

Tul Karm-Ramallah
Then: less than one hour.
Now: Two hours.

Beit Ur al-Fawqa-Ramallah
Then: 10 minutes.
Now: 45 minutes.

Katana/Beit Anan-Ramallah
Then: 15 minutes.
Now: One hour to 90 minutes.

Bir Naballah-Jerusalem
Then: seven minutes.
Now: One hour.

Then: five minutes.
Now: "Nobody goes to Jerusalem anymore."

Friday, January 19, 2007

la face hideuse de l'occupation- trois faits à mediter pour ouvrir les yeux

(c) Anne Paq/
Un enfant palestinien à Anata, capturé par des soldats israeliens, 2006.

La face hideuse de l’occupation….trois faits à mediter pour ouvrir les yeux.

Je suis loin de la Palestine, et pourtant je ne peux me detacher. Je regarde toujours les nouvelles, sur Haaretz, sur Maan, sur IMEMC, sur electronic intifada…chaque matin, chaque soir et plusieurs fois par jour. Les lieux me sont familiers, quelque fois meme les visages comme ce photographe palestinien qui a été blessé par plusieurs balles lors de la derniere invasion militaire de Ramallah. Il a été grievement blessé, son nom est Fadi. Je crois qu’il a perdu un rein, et qu’il est toujours hospitalisé. Visé car temoin actif… alors qu’il etait clairement identifié comme un journaliste.

Les mêmes faits reviennent et reviennent, seuls les noms changent. je discutais avec une amie palestinienne aujourd "hui: "alors il y a eu une invasion militaire à Naplouse?". "oui me dit-elle; rien de nouveau, ma chere". en effet rien de nouveau. les Palestiniens se sont habitués au pire, à cette lithanie de mauvaises nouvelles.

Quelquefois la vérité perce, le voile va-til enfin se lever ?
voila trois faits dans les derniers jours qui m’ont frappée, en pleine face, en plein coeur.
ils se sont passés dans des lieux que je connais bien: Hebron, avec ses colons qui sont parmi les plus extremistes et violents, Anata, et ses ecoles à quelques metres du Mur, theatres d'affrontement quasi quotidien entre les jeunes Palestiniens et les soldats, et Huwara, un des checkpoints les plus difficiles de Cisjordanie, qui isole completement Naplouse.

Prenez le temps de lire et de realiser ce qu’ils veulent dire, ce qu’ils revelent sur ce qui se passe sur le terrain et la veritable nature de l'occupation militaire.

1) Il y a eu d'abord cette video qui a été diffusée sur une chaine israelienne où l’on voit une femme israelienne colon, Yifat Alkobi, qui habite illegalement au cœur de la vieille ville historique de Hebron, agresser et insulter la famille palestinienne Abu Aisha, terrée dans leur maison transformée en cage par des barreaux aux fenetres visant à les proteger des attaques repétées et incessante des colons. Dans la video, la femme colon s’approche de la fenêtre, leur crache dessus et les insulte : « sharmouta », plusieurs fois, avec une voix sourde et menaçante qui semble sortir tout droit d’un mauvais thriller. « sharmouta » veut dire putain en Arabe.
Bonne chose qu’une organisation des droits de l’homme ait fourni une camera à la famille. Peut-etre devrions nous donner massivement des caméras à tous les Palestiniens. Beaucoup d’Israeliens ont été choqués par les images, mais ceci n’est pas une bavure. Au contraire, cette agression est « banale », elle n’est que le reflet d’une réalité quotienne.
la famille Aisha vit terrée, dans un entretien ils expliquent comment cet hiver le grand jeu des colons etait de les asperger d’eau glacée. En mars 2005, cette même femme a attaqué un garçon palestinien de 10 ans, elle lui avait mis des pierres dans la bouche et lui avait fermé de force, ce qui avait cassé des dents.
La video peut etre vue sur :,7340,L-3350480,00.html.
A la suite, une manifestation de Peace Now a été prevue à Hebron mais l’armée l’a interdite.

2) Ce Mardi 16 Janvier, une petite fille palestinienne de 10 ans a été grièvement blessée à la sortie de son ecole à Anata. Il y avait des clashes à ce moment entre la police israelienne et des Palestiniens. Depuis la construction du Mur, l’année derniere, situé à quelques metres des ecoles, les heurts sont frequents. A chaque fois, comme par hasard, l’armee ou la police viennent pres des ecoles a l’entrée ou à la sortie des classes, pendant la recreation, afin de provoquer les eleves. J’ai pu moi-même le constater a plusieurs reprises. Cette fois, selon les temoins, Abir est sortie de l’ecole et les filles se sont trouvées face aux policiers ; elles se sont enfuies, la jeep les a poursuivies et ils ont tiré des grenades assourdissantes. Abir s’est ecroulée, elle en aurait pris une en pleine tete. Elle a éte transportée à l’hopital. elle a été declarée cliniquement morte et mise sous respiration artificielle. aujourd’hui, vendredi 19 janvier, sa famille a mis fin à son calvaire et elle a été declarée morte. Une fille de 10 ans, quel etait son crime?

Voir l'article en anglais :

3) Ce jeudi 18 janvier, un patient est mort au checkpoint de Huwara, à l’entree de Naplouse. Les soldats israeliens ont interdit à la voiture de passer le checkpoint sous pretexte que la voiture n’avait pas de permis. L’homme ; qui venait de se faire traiter à l’hopital pour un cancer, a dû descendre et n’a pas supporté l’effort de marcher. Naplouse se situe au milieu de la Cisjordanie, il voulait simplement rentrer chez lui. Est-ce qu’il representait une menace pour Israel ?
voir l'article en anglais:

Je crois que je vais arreter de regarder les nouvelles pour aujourd’hui. J’ai la nausée.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

nouvelles incursions dans le camp de refugies de Aida, Bethlehem/ another miltary incursion in Aida refugee camp

(c) Anne Paq/
Le camp de refugies de Aida, à Bethlehem, encerclé par le Mur sur deux côtés/
Aida refugee camp, Bethlehem; surrounded by the Wall on two sides.

English follows

Derniers echos du camp d'Aida

Cette derniere semaine a ete particulierement eprouvante pour les habitants du camp d'Aida, pres de Bethlehem.

En effet l'armee israelienne s'est montreeTRES PRESENTE' et a effectue des arrestations en masse.
Comme souvent, ce sont les jeunes qui ont ete touches.

Du 1er au 15 janvier, l'armee a penetre 6 fois dans le camp, de preference de nuit.
Ils ont arrete 10 garcons ages de 14 a 21 ans. En voici la liste.
Ibrahim Adel – 16 ans
Naseem Mitoualli - 18 ans
Mohammed Abdehaziz - 18 ans
Mahmoud Sreena - 17 ans
Ahhmed Sreena - 17ans (le frere jumeau de Mahmoud)
Hussein Abedrabbou - 17 ans
Salah Darwish - 17 ans
Arafa Abu Srour - 14 ans
Mahmoud Riyad - 16 ans
Mohammed Riyad - 21 ans

Comme d'habitude aucune explication ne fut donnee pour ces arrestations. Meme les parents ne sont d'habitude pas informes des raisons de l'arrestation.

Le 15 janvier a 20 heures , plus de 12 jeeps israeliennes ont encercle le camp d'Aida. L'objectif etait la maison de Ryiad Rasheed Abu-Srour. Ils obligerent tous les membres de la famille a sortir de la maison, soit en tout 7 personnes dont un jeune enfant de 7 ans. Ils resterent a l'exterieur de 20 heures a 23H45, sous le ciel etoile. Il faisait tres froid. La maman etait tres effrayeeainsi que les enfants. Mais elle refoulait sa peur et ses larmes, essayant d'encourager les enfants. Mais les enfants encouragaient leur maman. Ils etaient tous tres calmes et essayaient de comprendre ce qui se passait. Que cherchaient ces dizaines de soldats?
Il y avait des explosions a l'interieur de la maison et la maman se demandait ou et pourquoi.
La moitie du camp d'Aida etait en etat de siege. Certains habitants, qui ne savaient pas exactement ce qui se passait, se mirent a jeter des pierres pour aider la famille.
Mais c'est le contraire qui se passait, la famille servant de bouclier humain.
Vers minuit, Les forces d'occupation israeliennes arreterent la maman Nawal (45 ans) et sa fille Ashjan (20 ans), etudiante a l'universite d'Abu Dis. Deux fils avaient deja ete arretes dans le courant de la nuit precedente.
La maman fu relacheedans la matinee mais Ashjan est toujours detenue.

Depuis le 10 janvier, cette famille a ete contrainte par l'armee de quitter son logement 3 fois, le plus souvent en pleine nuit, et de rester dehors dans le froid.
- la nuit du 11 janvier, lors de l'arrestation de Mahmoud
- la nuit du 15 janvier a deux heures du matin, lors de l'arrestation de Mohammed
- la soiree du 15 janvier lors de l'arrestation de Nawal et Ashjan.

Nawal a ete invitee a se rendre le matin du 16 janvier a Ezion pour repondre aux questions de la securite israelienne.
L'interieur de la maison a ete totalement detruit . Nawal et sa famille vivent pour l'instant chez ses parents .

Depuis le debut du mois de decembre, 33 personnes ont ete arretees dans le camp d'Aida.
Dieu seul sait ce l'armee d'occupation reserve aux habitants du camp dans les prochains jours.


Message from Abed, from Aida refugee camp:

Today, I received a message from my cousin Ibrahim about another incursion in Aida camp. As some of you know, I am actually in USA for some meetings and theatre work.
Yesterday, January 15th 2007, at 8:00 pm more than 12 Israeli Jeeps surrounded Aida camp. Their target was the house of Riyad Rasheed Abusrour, a cousin, where they ordered all the members of the family to get out from the house. The family stayed outside their house from 8:00 pm until 11:45 pm, under the frozen wind, the sky and the light of the stars wishing them patience. The cold , the fear and worry as well as tears were put on hold in company of the unfortunate family. While the mother was trying to encourage her children, it was them who were encouraging her in fact. Mohamad, the second son was arrested few days ago. Thefather was sent to exile in Jordan 3 years ago. What's going on? What are these solders doing in their house? What were they digging for? What were these explosions for?
A stony storm blew, some trying to help the hostage family, but as usual the family was used to be as human shields. 4 hours after the this incursions was over, the IOF arrested the mother Nawal 43 years old and her daughter Ashjan 20 years old, early this morning the mother was
released and the daughter still arrested. The house was completely destroyed from inside, every thing is up side down.
Aida camp still a permitted land for every israeli soldier to come in, do the dirty work and get it, without any question. No authority in the face of occupation. No cosmetic operation to disguise its violence and ugliness. No shame and no fear. Law is the mule they ride and the media are the their horse of troy... a beautiful publiciy hiding all the death, hate and ugliness.
Could we still have the power to say, we continue to be humans beings, fighting within ourselves to keep our humanity. We are what we are, we refuse to be framed in the corner of their propaganda... we are people under occupation, despite all these visits and official promesses.... but we still as well, people who fight with beauty and nonviolence despite all this circus, and one day, the light will come, no matter how long it takes.

wish you better nights than the nights of Aida.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

another military incursion in aida refugee camp

(c) Anne Paq/
Aida Refugee camp

update from Aida camp

These days continue to be dark days. The Israeli occupation soldiers continue their illegal incursions in Aida camp and Bethlehem area as well as a lot of other Palestinian cities and refugee camps since the last 3 nights. The night of 10-11th January they broke in the camp again, kidnapping more young people and children.. This time as well, they broke in my parents house and destroyed the door in Aida camp. The house is usually used to host volunteers and store equipment as well. Fortunately no volunteers are in now, but I don't know what happened. The son of my cousin, Arafa Abdelrahman Abusrour (14 years old) with other teenagers were arrested by the IOF: Mohammad Reyad Rashid Abusrour (19 yrs), Salah Darwish (17 yrs), Hussein AbedRabbah (17yrs), Mohammad Abdelaziz Abusrour (17 yrs), Ibrahim Adel Abusrour (16 yrs), Naseem Mitwaly (17 yrs), the twins Khaleel and Mahmoud Al'Ok (17yrs)..etc. … and there it is, a new year with a lot of hopes and misfortunes…. Long live human rights and international law… long live the hypocrisy and silence and complicity with injustice… long live all these attacks on children, to build the worst future ever possible for a generation who shall know nothing more but violence and aggressions and attacks by the Israeli Offensive occupation army.

Have a good new year


AbdelFattah Abu-Srour, PhD
Director of Al-Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Center
Al-Rowwad is an Independent Center for artistic, cultural, and theatre training for children in Aida Camp trying to provide a "safe" and healthy environment to help children creativity and discharge of stress in the war conditions they are forced to live in
Mobile: (972) 522 401 325- Telefax: +970 2 275 0030

email: web site:

Preparing the transfer....

Israeli Knesset passes law to revoke citizenship of \'unpatriotic\'

author Wednesday January 10, 2007 23:12author by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies - 1 of IMEMC Editorial Groupauthor email saed at imemc dot org Report this post to the editors

A new law passed Wednesday will allow the Israeli government to revoke the citizenship of citizens considered unpatriotic to the Jewish state of Israel. The law is expected to be applied especially to the 20% of Israeli citizens who are of Palestinian origin.

Passage of the controversial law comes just as a torrent of criticism was launched by Knesset member Ahmed Tibi against the Knesset for alleged discrimination against its Arab members. Tibi accused the Knesset of discriminatory practices, in which Arab members are required to ask permission, even to use the bathroom, while Jewish members of the Knesset are not.

The new law, passed despite a recommendation against it by the Israeli Attorney General, allows for the deportation and revocation of citizenship of Israelis for a wide range of offenses, including "visiting enemy nations" and "encouraging terror against Israel", with the latter being so open to interpretation that many Palestinians with Israeli citizenship fear that simply being Palestinian will be reason enough for Israeli officials to revoke their citizenship.

The Israeli Attorney General called the law, "a drastic and extreme move that harms
civil liberties." He also stated that the new law violates international law.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More Destruction of Bedouins Houses in Neguev.

(c) Anne Paq/
Pics taken in 2005, in what is called an "unrocognized village" in the Neguev, a village where Bedouins live and pay their taxes to the Israeli government but they are not recognized by the State and they are denied basic services. They have to organize themselves and pay for the water and electricity.

Israel demolishes 21 Bedouin Arab homes in the Israeli Negev desert
Date: 10 / 01 / 2007 Time: 10:29
تكبير الخط تصغير الخط
An Israeli bulldozer destroys a Negev home
(MaanImages Archive photo)
Ma'an - On Tuesday, 9 January, large forces from the Israeli Land Authority and Ministry of Interior destroyed 21 houses in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Twayyil Abu Jarwal, situated near the city of Beer Sheva in the Negev desert in southern Israel, according to information from the Forum for Coexistence in the Negev (Dukium), a joint Jewish-Arab initiative struggling for civil equality.

In addition, the Regional Council for Unrecognized Negev Arab Villages (RCUV) reported that during the past several months, houses were destroyed in this village on 4 different occasions. On 6 December, 17 houses belonging to the Al Talalka family were destroyed.

This demolition campaign was launched after the Israeli minister of interior, Roni Bar-On, announced in the Israeli Knesset that all the unlicensed houses in the Negev Bedouin community, numbering some 42,000, would be destroyed. All these houses are in villages "unrecognized" by the State Israel, and therefore, it is impossible for building permits to be obtained in these villages.

In conversation with Ma'an News Agency after this demolition, the council's regional head of the "unrecognized villages", Hussein Rafay'ah, accused the Israeli government of, "continuing its racist campaign against the Arabs in Israel". Rafay'ah told the Ma'an reporter that the Israeli government has, "threatened to demolish 45 villages resided in by 90,000 Arabs after seizing 98 percent of the lands of these villages." Rafay'ah also said that the residents of the demolished buildings will rebuild their homes.

According to the Arab Association for Human Rights, there are over 100 Palestinian Arab villages in Israel that the government does not recognise officially. Over 70,000 Palestinian Arab citizens live in villages that are threatened with destruction, prevented from development and are not shown on any map.

As the Regional Council for Unrecognized Negev Arab Villages (RCUV) pointed out in a letter sent to foreign diplomats highlighting their plight, "Although most of the 45 unrecognized villages existed before the establishment of Israel in 1948, the Government of Israel has refused to recognize them. Thus, these villages were left without services like paved roads, water, electricity, kindergartens, high schools, and medical care. This situation has made the people in these villages the poorest and the most underprivileged in Israel. Worse is the recent attempt of the Israeli government to destroy these villages by issuing home demolition orders and demolishing homes."

The inhabitants of these villages who attempt to repair existing homes or build new ones are thus considered as lawbreakers by Israel.

non-violent resistance to house demolition

Hundreds of Gazan citizens form human shields to prevent the destruction of houses
Date: 10 / 01 / 2007 Time: 10:20
تكبير الخط تصغير الخط
Gaza - Ma'an - On Tuesday evening, hundreds of Gazans from different political movements used themselves as human shields to prevent the bombardment by the Israeli forces of a house belonging a top activist in the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement.

The Israeli forces in the late hours of Tuesday night ordered the evacuation of the house of Ibrahim Jum'a, a member of the Al-Quds Brigades, so as to destroy it. This incident marks the return of the 'warnings campaign' to evacuate the houses of operatives in order to destroy them. The campaign was very active last year.

As soon as the warning to the Jum'a family came, hundreds of citizens hurried to protect the three-floor house in the Saftawi neighborhood in northern Gaza City.

Last year human shields were able to prevent the destruction of several houses after they received warnings from the Israeli army, normally via a telephone call to their home of mobile phone.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Kiss of death

Kiss of death - by Uri Avnery
Date: 08 / 01 / 2007 Time: 15:09

SINCE JUDAS ISCARIOT embraced Jesus, Jerusalem has not seen such a kiss.

After being boycotted by Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert for years, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was invited to the official residence of the Prime Minister of Israel two weeks ago. There, in front of the cameras, Olmert embraced him and kissed him warmly on both cheeks. Abbas looked stunned, and froze.

Somehow the scene was reminiscent of another incident of politically-inspired physical contact: the embarassing occurrence at the Camp David meeting, when Prime Minister Ehud Barak pushed Yasser Arafat forcefully into the room where Bill Clinton stood waiting.

In both instances it was a gesture that was intended to look like paying respect to the Palestinian leader, but both were actually acts of violence that - seemingly - testified to ignorance of the customs of the other people and of their delicate situation. Actually, the aim was quite different.

ACCORDING TO the New Testament, Judas Iscariot kissed Jesus in order to point him out to those who had come to arrest him.

In appearance - an act of love and friendship. In effect - a death sentence.

On the face of it, Olmert was out to do Abbas a favor. He paid him respect, introduced him to his wife and honored him with the title "Mr. President".

That should not be underestimated. At Oslo, titanic battles were fought over this title. The Palestinians insisted that the head of the future Palestinian Authority should be called "President". The Israelis rejected this out of hand, because this title could indicate something like a state. In the end, it was agreed that the (binding) English version would carry the Arabic title "Ra'is", since that language uses the same word for both President and Chairman. Abbas, who signed the document for the Palestinian side, probably did not envisage that he himself would be the first to be addressed by an Israeli Prime Minister as "President".

But enough trivia. More important is the outcome of this event. After the imposed kiss, Abbas needed a big Israeli gesture to justify the meeting in the eyes of his people. And indeed, why shouldn't Olmert do something resounding? For example, to release on the spot a thousand prisoners, remove all the hundreds of checkpoints scattered across the West Bank, open the passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip?

Nothing of the sort happened. Olmert did not release a single prisoner - no woman, no child, no old man, no sick person. He did indeed announce (for the umpteenth time) that the roadblocks would be "eased", but the Palestinians report that they have not felt any change. Perhaps, here and there, the endless queue at some of the roadblocks has become a little shorter. Also, Olmert gave back a fifth of the Palestinian tax money withheld (or embezzled) by the Israeli government.

To the Palestinians, this looked like another shameful failure for their President: he went to Canossa and received meaningless promises that were not kept.

WHY DID Olmert go through all these motions?

The naïve explanation is political. President Bush wanted some movement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would look like an American achievement. Condoleezza Rice transmitted the order to Olmert. Olmert agreed to meet Abbas at long last. There was a meeting. A kiss was effected. Promises were made and immediately forgotten. Americans, as is well known, have short memories. Even shorter (if that is possible) than ours.

But there is also a more cynical explanation. If one humiliates Abbas, one strengthens Hamas. Palestinian support for Abbas depends on one single factor: his ability to get from the US and Israel things Hamas cannot. The Americans and the Israelis love him, so - the argument goes - they will give him what is needed: the mass release of prisoners, an end to the targeted killings, the removal of the monstrous roadblocks, the opening of the passage between the West Bank and Gaza, the start of serious negotiations for peace. But if Abbas cannot deliver any of these - what remains but the methods of Hamas?

The business of the prisoners provides a good example. Nothing troubles the Palestinians more than this: almost every Palestinian clan has people in prison. Every family is affected: a father, a brother, a son, sometimes a daughter. Every night, the Israeli army "arrests" another dozen or so. How to get them free?

Hamas has a proven remedy: to capture Israelis (in the Israeli and international media, Israelis are "kidnapped" while Palestinians are "arrested"). For the return of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Olmert will release many prisoners. Israelis, according to Palestinian experience, understand only the language of force.

Some of Olmert's advisors had a brilliant idea: to give Abbas hundreds of prisoners as a gift, just for nothing. That would reinforce the position of the Palestinian president and prove to the Palestinians that they can get more from us this way than by violence. It would deal a sharp blow to the Hamas government, whose overthrow is a prime aim of the governments both of Israel and the USA.

Out of the question, cried another group of Olmert's spin doctors. How will the Israeli media react if prisoners are released before Shalit comes home?

The trouble is that Shalit is held by Hamas and its allies, and not by Abbas. If it is forbidden to release prisoners before the return of Shalit, then all the cards are in the hands of Hamas. In that case, perhaps it makes sense to speak with Hamas? Unthinkable!

The result: no strengthening of Abbas, no dialogue with Hamas, no nothing.

THAT IS an old Israeli tradition: when there are two alternatives, we choose the third: not to do anything.

For me, the classic example is the Jericho affair. In the middle 70s, King Hussein made an offer to Henry Kissinger: Israel should withdraw from Jericho and turn the town over to the king. The Jordanian army would hoist the Jordanian flag there, announcing symbolically that Jordan is the decisive Arab presence in the West Bank.

Kissinger liked the idea and called Yigal Allon, the Israeli foreign minister. Allon informed the Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin. All the top political echelon - Rabin, Allon, the Defense Minister Shimon Peres - were already enthusiastic supporters of the "Jordanian Option", as were their predecessors, Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan and Abba Eban. My friends and I, who, on the contrary, advocated the "Palestinian Option", were a marginal minority.

But Rabin rejected the offer categorically. Golda had publicly promised to hold a referendum or elections before giving back even one square inch of occupied territory. "I will not call an election because of Jericho!" Rabin declared.

No Jordanian Option. No Palestinian Option. No nothing.

NOW THE same is happening vis-à-vis Syria.

Again there are two alternatives. The first: to start negotiations with Bashar al-Assad, who is making public overtures. That means being ready to give back the Golan Heights and allow the 60 thousand Syrian refugees to return home. In return, Sunni Syria could well cut itself loose from Iran and Hizbullah and join the front of Sunni states. Since Syria is both Sunni and secular-nationalist, that may also have a positive effect on the Palestinians.

Olmert has demanded that Assad cut himself off from Iran and stop helping Hizbullah before any negotiations. That is a ridiculous demand, obviously intended to serve as an alibi for refusing to start talking. After all, Assad uses Hizbullah in order to put pressure on Israel to return the Golan. His alliance with Iran also serves the same purpose. How can he give up in advance the few cards he holds and still hope to achieve anything in the negotiations?

The opposite alternative suggested by some senior army commanders: to invade Syria and do the same there as the Americans have done in Iraq. That would create anarchy throughout the Arab world, a situation that would be good for Israel. That would also renovate the image of the Israeli army that was damaged in Lebanon and restore its "deterrence power".

So what will Olmert do? Give the Golan back? God forbid! Does he need trouble with the 16 thousand vociferous settlers there? What then, will he start a war with Syria? No! Hasn't he had enough military setbacks? So he will go for the third alternative: to do nothing.

Bashar Assad has at least one consolation: He does not run the risk of being kissed by Olmert.

Uri Avnery is the head of the Israeli peace bloc, Gush Shalom.

remember her? I do...

Israeli High Court: “death of 13-year old child could have been prevented”

Monday January 08, 2007 05:28 author by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies -

Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that the Israeli High Court of Justice instructed the military police and prosecution to probe whether ‘open fire’ order was given illegally at the Girit military outpost in Gaza when 13-year-old Palestinian girl was killed by Israeli army gunfire two years ago.

The petition was filed by the parents of Iman and the Public Committee Against Torture.

Al Hamas was shot by some 25 rounds of live ammunition, and soldiers conducted the “confirm kill” shooting procedure after he fell dead on the ground.

She was heading back home from school, and wearing her school uniform when she was repeatedly shot.

Haaretz added that a verdict handed down by the High Court of Justice and was released for publication Sunday instructs military police to open a criminal investigation into the circumstances of the death of Iman al Hams.

Following the shooting, captain R was arrested, but later on he was cleared of responsibility for her death.

The family of Al Hams demanded Israeli to probe the killing in order to determine whether the open fire on the school-girl was illegal given.

Supreme Court Justice, Edmond Levi, wrote in his verdict that the death of Al Hamas could have been prevented if all procedures were followed.

Three judges presided over the hearing; Aharon Barak, Saleem Jubran and Edmond Levi, Haaretz added.

Moreover, the court decided that the military police and the chief military prosecutor should investigate whether the order deviated from the army’s official regulation.

The court hearing did not touch the issue of the identity of the soldier who killed the child, Haaretz said.

Haaretz also said that the court rejected an a petition that the soldiers involved in the killing be investigated for carrying out illegal orders.

Last year, Captain R was acquitted from all charges and was declared innocent”, and the cour decided to pay for him an amount of 82.000 in compensation for defense expenses and days he spent in custody.

Some of the questions remained unclear, the judges wrote in their decision; “why was the girl walking in that area? How did the guard think she poses threat to them? How could the girl present a threat to their lives?”.