Archive for the ‘Revolution Palestine’ Category
The Hamas-run court found the man – identified only as A.K. – guilty of collaborating with Israeli authorities, without providing further details.
On June 22, the Gaza government hanged two men accused of collaborating with Israel. Under Palestinian law, collaboration with Israel, murder, and drug trafficking are all punishable by death.
However all execution orders must be approved by the president before they can be carried out. Hamas no longer recognizes the legitimacy of incumbent Mahmoud Abbas, whose four-year term ended in 2009.
Hamas has executed 17 people since taking over Gaza in 2007, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
Palestine refugees marked 65 years of expulsion and exile this year.
This week on The Electronic Intifada podcast:
- Dr. Cecilia Baeza on Palestinian history and heritage in Latin America. Read transcript and listen to individual segment
- Music by Reem Kelani: “Galilean Lullaby” from the album Sprinting Gazelle – Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora.
- Reem Kelani’s website: reemkelani.com
- Soundcloud page: soundcloud.com/reem-kelani
- Nour Joudah reads a short story, featuring “Khiyanat Mariha” by the Samir Joubran Trio.Read transcript and listen to individual segment
The Electronic Intifada podcast is available on iTunes! Click here to view the podcast archive, or subscribe via the iTunes interface (search for The Electronic Intifada).
Dr. Cecilia Baeza: Let’s start with the end of the 19th century until 1948. This period is crucial, because it constitutes a key testimony of the modes of identification of the inhabitants of Palestine before 1948. How did they self-define these immigrants from Palestine? If we cannot interview the oldest immigrants who arrived at the end of the 19th century, we still have several evidences of their self-identification.
Some notes on the immigration registers, the names of the associations and the ethnic press which began to develop in the decade of the 1910s. Until 1920, immigrants from Palestine used to mention alternatively four focuses of identity: their hometown, in this case, Beit Lahem [Bethlehem], Beit Jala and Beit Sahour; Syria, in the sense of Bilad al-Sham [Greater Syria]; their religion, here mainly Orthodox Christianity and the consciousness of coming from the Holy Land; and finally their Arab-ness. References to Palestine were rare, but they did exist. By contrast, the identification with the Ottoman empire was almost non-existent.
This started to change from the ’20s. In 1920, the Club Deportivo Palestino, a professional football club, was founded in Santiago de Chile. The name of the club, Palestino, and the colors of the football jersey — those of the Palestinian flag — were clearly a nationalist reference.
This new identification gained momentum from 1924. Between 1924 and 1939, dozens of organizations with direct and unique references to Palestine were founded all across Latin America. How to explain the emergence of this new Palestinian consciousness?
The establishment of the British mandate over Palestine terribly complicated the life of immigrants, and these new difficulties certainly made them more aware of the political precariousness of the homeland. The main obstacle faced by the immigrants was the issue of return: temporary or definitive. Indeed, until the ’30s, immigrants used to move back and forth between the host countries and Palestine. Immigrants came back, lived a few years in Palestine, and left again their homeland to Latin America.
This pattern was quite common. During the Ottoman era, immigrants who kept the Ottoman nationality could legally return to Palestine. However, and this is a paradox, the issuing of Palestinian nationality by British authorities in 1925 changed the situation. Immigrants had to ask for a visa, in case they had acquired the nationality of the host country, or as Palestinian-born, ask for the Palestinian nationality itself. Therein lies the crux of the problem: the condition for obtaining the Palestinian nationality as defined by the Treaty of Lausanne, was extremely hard to meet for the immigrants. The application of the Treaty created hardships for thousands of Palestine natives who were residents abroad.
Let’s take the case of Issa Nasser, for example. Born in Bethlehem, he emigrated in 1913 as a merchant to Chile with an Ottoman passport which expired in the Treaty of Lausanne. As he did not have the Palestinian nationality, he needed an emergency certificate issued by the British consulate in Valparaiso, to be able to travel to Palestine. The temporary document clearly specified that it did not guarantee that the holder would be authorized to land or remain in Palestine.
But going to Palestine was not the only problem. In some cases, such as Chile and Mexico, the inability to provide a valid nationality prevented from renewing a resident’s permit. Or worse, the access to naturalization. This situation led thousands of immigrants to become stateless. In some countries, like in El Salvador, the absence of nationality prohibited the exercise of trade, jeopardizing the main source of income for Palestinian immigrants.
Facing these difficulties, immigrants decided to organize themselves to make themselves heard. Dozens of complaints were made by immigrants from the British consulates of Latin America, and remain deposited in the archives of the League of Nations.
Immigrants argue that they still had land in Palestine, and despite the fact that they were currently involved in trade activities in their host countries, they still planned to return home in the near future. In Palestine, immigrants received the support of young nationalists, including Aysel Bandaq from Bethlehem, who launched in 1927 the Committee for the Defense of Immigrants’ Rights to Palestinian Citizenship.
The committee collected the grievances of immigrants, and presented them to the British high commissioner for Palestine. The British authority lightly relaxed the condition for obtaining the nationality but it did not make a big difference.
Following the outbreak of the great Arab Revolt, Aysel Bandaq renewed the petition in 1936 to the Peel Commission without any significant result. As a consequence, only a very limited number of immigrants were able to get Palestinian nationality.
In 1946, it was documented that only 465 persons of those who were born in Palestine and were residing abroad could acquire Palestinian nationality. It did not mean that it was impossible for immigrants to come back, but it certainly dissuaded more than one.
The temporary situation of statelessness of some immigrants made Mutaz Qafisheh, professor of international law at Hebron University, speak about the first generation of Palestinian refugees. I understand the interest of such a provocative stance that allowed pointing out a situation that was completely neglected, but I’m not sure that it can really be used because as we have seen, the logics of immigration cannot be reduced to the result of an expulsion.
This Palestinian nationality eventually disappeared with the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. But for immigrants, it was clearly the first political experience of their Palestinian-ness, independently from the fact that they succeeded to have it or not, the struggle for nationality was itself meaningful. In fact, the decade of the ’30s witnessed the development of a very dynamic, nationalist, ethnic press in Latin America.
The best examples are al-Islah, the Reform, in Chile, published from 1930-1942 and also distributed in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, and Rumbos, published in Honduras from 1939.
The press diffused political information from Palestine. And this clearly had an impact: for example, in 1939, Palestinians in Chile and Honduras collected funds for the families of martyrs of the great Arab Revolt. The result of all of this is that at the end of the ’30s, we had a population who increasingly claimed its belonging to the Palestinian nation, while they were more than ever intending to settle in their host countries.
A clear sign of this paradox is the fact that a good part of this nationalist ethnic press was written in Spanish, as [was] Rumbos. The second generation born in Palestine was already losing its capacity in its ability to read and write in Arabic. The cultural distance with the homeland was widening, and in Latin America the immigrants were about to seize new economic opportunities.
The last significant political battle of this period was the mobilization against the partition of Palestine, voted in the General Assembly of the UN in 1947. The mobilization against this resolution in Latin America was, in reality, a last-minute campaign launched by Akram Zuaiter who came from Palestine to convince Latin American leaders not to vote for the partition. And in fact it had some results. Thanks to the strong mobilization of Palestinian communities, Chile and Honduras decided, at the very last moment, to abstain [during the vote on] the UN resolution. But this was in vain, since as we know the resolution was adopted.
And the following decades were marked by deep cultural assimilation. In 1970, exogamous marriages — that is marriages between Arabs and non-Arabs — had become the norm. According to a recent investigation, today in Chile, only around 30 percent of [persons of] Palestinian descent have both parents of Palestinian origin.
The new generations whose fathers were immigrants became Chileans, Hondurans, Peruvians — in a nutshell, Latin Americans of Palestinian descent. [There are] not even Palestinian Chileans, like one can be Arab-American — hyphenated identities don’t exist in Latin America. In multiracial and multi-ethnic Latin American societies, national identification comes first. However, it does not mean that identification with Palestine was lost.
Palestinian identity survived through networks of friends, families and business partners; through social clubs like the Club Palestino in Santiago … And also through cultural practices like food. In fact it may be less powerful than language or religion, but that produced, embodied and affected feelings of connection with Palestine. Every Latin American of Palestinian descent will always start speaking about their Palestinian identities with [memories] of lunches at their grandparents’ place, eating maqloobeh [a traditional Palestinian dish], stuffed marrows and eggplants.
These elements of cultural identity were not necessarily visible in the public space, but they were very present in the private sphere.
During the ’50s and ’60s, the political dimension of Palestinian identity became clearly less relevant. But this changed again from the second half of the ’70s and even more during the ’80s. Unlike in other regions, it was not directly the Six-Day War of 1967 that really made the difference, but the recognition of the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] in 1974 by the United Nations as the sole, legitimate representation of the Palestinian people.
Why? Because it allowed the PLO to open Palestine informational offices all across the continent, and to develop a network of representatives. The re-politicization of the diaspora was part of their mission. However, working or not with the PLO created tensions among the community. The tensions were such that some individuals even denounced their fellows from the Palestinian club to the Chilean political police, for example.
Jael Al Arja, a member of the PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] who regularly came to Latin America since the beginning of the 1970s, was killed in 1976 during the Operation Entebbe against the hijacking of an Air France flight by PFLP members. You can imagine how terrified the Palestinian in Chile were who had known him.
The PLO was seen as subversive. Aware of this obstacle, not only in Chile but in other Latin American countries, the PLO decided to send Father Ibrahim Ayyad, a Catholic priest born in Beit Sahour and close to Yasser Arafat, to change the PLO’s image among the predominantly Christian diaspora.
The turning point was 1982 and the massacre of the Palestinian refugees of the camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon. The killing of women, children and the elderly provoked an emotion that went beyond political divisions. In Chile, it fostered the first demonstration of unity among Palestinians.
In 1984, the Palestinian Club of Chile and the Federation of Brazilian Palestinian Organizations called for the first congress of Palestinian entities from Latin America and the Caribbean. The congress took place in Sao Paolo, and resulted in the creation of the COPLAC, the Latin American confederation of Palestinian institutions. Eleven representatives from Latin America were designated to be members of the Palestinian National Congress of the PLO.
This new institutionalized connection with the PLO proved a big momentum, especially among the youth. Tens of groups of dabke [traditional Palestinian dance] were formed in Brazil, in Chile and in other Latin American countries. Many belonged to Sana’oud, a Palestinian transnational cultural movement created by the PLO for young people of Palestinian descent to reconnect with Palestinian culture.
In Chile, university students went even beyond, and founded the local branch of the General Union of Palestinian Students. Chile currently is the country where a core group of individuals of Palestinian origin is the best organized to defend the Palestinian cause.
We are actually witnessing a process of professionalization of the pro-Palestinian movement since the beginning of the 2000s. Palestinian Chilean politicians can be found now across the full political spectrum, from the right to the Communist party, but they cooperate when it comes to Palestine. A Palestinian Chilean inter-parliamentary group was constituted, and is today the most numerous amongst the bi-national groups in the Chilean congress.
In 2001, wealthy Chilean Palestinian businessmen created the Palestinian Bethlehem 2000 Foundation, a charity organization for Palestinian children that also does political lobbying and cultural work for the community. The foundation publishes a monthly magazine called Al Damir, which aims to [report on] success stories of Palestinian Chileans as well as briefing about the activities of the community and of the humanitarian situation in Palestine.
There is also a Palestinian Chilean news agency, as well as two other websites that provide daily updates and op-eds regarding the situation in Palestine. These are the main sources of information for Palestinian Chileans as well as others who are interested in the situation in the Middle East.
For concluding, again, political divisions and debates still exist within this diaspora organization. But it doesn’t hamper their work and their impact. There is clearly today a growing interest among the youth about their Palestinian origin. The Internet, social networks and also the possibility to travel to Palestine have facilitated this reconnection. Even very few still have close relatives there.
The biggest problem today is probably the difficulties in entering Palestine, as Israeli authorities tend to discriminate against visitors according to their ancestry. Over the last five years, four young Chilean women were deported from Tel Aviv or the Allenby Bridge because of their Palestinian surname.
From Joudah’s blog: isdoud.wordpress.com
When I was nine, I took my first communion. By accident. Sort of. We skipped breakfast to make it to church on time for Christmas Mass. His mom told me if I just closed my hand in a fist as our pew walked up to the altar, the priest wouldn’t give me a cracker. I was hungry though and grateful for the two-second snack before me. And so I opened my hand, held out my open palm, lifted it to my mouth, and bit into the body of Christ.
Looking back, perhaps I should have been in the blood line. The Eastern Orthodox don’t mess with that grape juice nonsense like the Baptists. Only the good stuff, especially on Christmas. But I digress. Probably to blasphemy.
My first communion story was … well, entertaining for most of my classmates in college. It was the Bible belt and even the atheists quoted scripture. So the occasional line of “I accidentally took communion once …” from the Muslim at the party was always a crowd-pleaser.
At my second communion, I didn’t go to the altar. I was fifteen, at a funeral, and this priest was not messing around. He told us not to come up if we weren’t Catholic. No crackers that day. But I was fifteen, so the Catholics in the pew got clever with that blood of Christ in the back pantry afterwards. So the rest of us wouldn’t feel left out of course. Sharing the love of the Lord is important. It seemed like an appropriate thing to drown our grief in.
My communions were anecdotes and funny stories for an agnostic/unknown like myself. An interesting pageantry. Symbolism steeped in man-made tradition. The highest form of embodied dogma. And then, there was my third communion. No churches, no trinity, no bread and wine.
My third communion was in a living room full of Muslims. Refugees. Palestinians. Believers in the homeland. Closed eyes, savoring every morsel of the zaatar on their tongue, with a prayer for God to take them home whispered under their breath.
Jihad, my friend’s younger brother, played altar boy, carefully scooped it out of the bag, piling it neatly on a small plate, walking ever so carefully as not to spill a single sesame seed.
With two pinched fingers, family members lifted the crushed thyme and spices and laid them on their tongues, inhaled so deeply I thought their lungs would burst from their chests. An uncle visiting broke the silence. “Get the olive oil! … You brought olive oil, right?”
“Of course. Olives, too.” I replied.
The grandfather patted my knee.
“The scent of home is enough, ya binti. Katter khairik.”
Communion resumed, now with olives and oil.
Plates were wiped clean with bread and the small fingers of children, convinced Palestine itself would jump off the plate if they dipped with enough force.
The grandfather passed on the second round. I half-jokingly/half-very-seriously asked, “Seedi, do you want me to hide your presents before half of Shatila shows up?”
“I ate from Palestine’s earth until I was 20. These are the generations that have never tasted her, known her scent, had her fill their stomachs and put them to sleep. Let them eat until they are full,” he replied.
I smiled and was quickly pounced on by a young Spiderman that stole me away periodically throughout the evening.
A little while later, I felt a tug at my shoulder.
“Can you put some of the oil in a small bottle so they don’t cook with it or serve it with anything?” he asked.
“Of course. Changed your mind? You want to save it?” I asked.
“Not all, just enough. I want the scent of home every night until I die. I want to smell Majdal Kroom in Shatila.”
I poured him some olive oil into a small bottle and tucked it near his makeshift bed in the living room.
I realized in the gift-giving, I hadn’t taken my own communion. Before I returned to the living room, I dipped my pinched fingers into the bag of zaatar, and said my prayer under my breath.
I took my third communion in private, standing over a sink, trying not to spill a crumb.
A communion of faith.
I breathed in the scent of the quickly emptying bottle of oil.
A conversion to exile.
Zahhar said in a session for the Gaza legislative council that “the Palestinian negotiator (Saeb Erekat) is illegal, and does not represent the national consensus.”
“The agreements that result from these negotiations with the occupation hurt the rights and principles of Palestinians and are not binding on Palestinians,” he said.
Zahhar warned against the continuation of negotiations because “the results are predetermined in favor of Israel in light of the balance of power.”
He added that “armed resistance is the successful choice and strategy to achieve the Palestinian national goals,” and he called on factions to unite and achieve reconciliation.
The PLO renewed direct negotiations with Israel earlier this year after years of stalemate.
A French report ruling out poisoning in Yasser Arafat’s 2004 death, rather than laying to rest suspicions of an assassination, has prompted denial and incredulity from Palestinian officials and relatives of the late president.
The Palestinians, who have long cried foul, with some pointing the finger directly at Israel, yesterday cited apparent inconsistencies between the French findings and separate ones from Switzerland and Russia that gave currency to alleged poisoning by polonium.
“The Swiss and Russian reports, as well as the investigations carried out over the past nine months by the Palestinian team confirm that Arafat did not die of disease or of old age,” said Ahmed Assaf, spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah party. “He died from polonium,” Assaf said. “We in Fatah believe … Israel alone is behind this crime, and we intend to get to the culprits.”
Israel has consistently denied having a hand in Arafat’s death at a French military hospital, and foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the results of the French probe were “no surprise.”
French doctors were unable to say in 2004 what killed Arafat, and an autopsy was never performed, at the request of his widow, Suha. But a 2004 French hospital report said Arafat had “four symptoms” whose simultaneous occurrence could not be explained by natural illness or disease.
In the latest report, French experts ruled out poisoning, and believe Arafat may have died of natural causes, a source close to the probe said on Tuesday.
Swiss scientists said last month their research offered some support for the suggestion that significantly higher-than-normal amounts of polonium killed Arafat.
Suha Arafat said she was “shocked” by the French report. “I’m still completely convinced that the martyr Arafat did not die a natural death, and I will keep trying to get to the truth,” she said.
(Source / 04.12.2013)
The Palestinian Authority’s Ministerial Council in Ramallah has taken several measures against a strike by members of the Teachers’ Union, which started on Sunday. The union is calling for better financial status and no more government negligence of the education sector.
On Tuesday, the Palestinian Supreme Court decreed that the strike is illegal and told teachers to go back to work as soon as possible. The court said that the teachers’ action harms students’ interests. The Ministerial Council has asked the justice minister to take punitive steps against the General Secretary of the Teachers’ Union because it has refused to stop the strike following the court’s judgement.
Teachers taking part in the strike will have their wages cut. The council has asked the education minister to prepare a list of replacement staff to cover for teachers who do not go to work for more than 15 days.
“We will not talk with the union as long as its members are on strike,” said a spokesperson for the Ministerial Council. A committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister Zeyad Abu-Amro is set to speak with the union as soon as the strike ends.
(Source / 04.12.2013)
Tawfiq Tirawi said the PA was still waiting on results in which French experts ruled out a theory that Arafat was killed by poisoning.
A source close to the investigation into the Palestinian leader’s 2004 death told AFP that a report on the investigation “rules out the poisoning theory and goes in the sense of a natural death.”
The French experts’ findings differ significantly from those of Swiss scientists, who said last month that their research offered some support for the suggestion Arafat was killed by polonium poisoning.
Rumors and speculation have surrounded Arafat’s death since a quick deterioration of his health saw his passing at a military hospital near Paris in November 2004 at the age of 75.
French doctors were unable to say what killed him and an autopsy was never performed, at the request of his widow.
Many Palestinians believed he was poisoned by Israel — a claim they repeatedly denied.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP the results of the French probe were “no surprise”.
France opened a formal murder inquiry into his death in August 2012, a month after an Al-Jazeera documentary linked his death to polonium poisoning.
Some 60 samples were taken from Arafat’s remains in November 2012 and divided between Swiss and Russian investigators and a French team carrying out a probe at his widow’s request.
Both the prosecutors’ office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, which is conducting the French probe, and a lawyer for Arafat’s widow Suha refused to comment on the investigation’s findings Tuesday.
The Swiss team said the test results neither confirmed nor denied polonium was the actual source of his death, although they provided “moderate” backing for the idea he was poisoned by the rare and highly radioactive element.
They said the quantity of the deadly substance found on his remains pointed to the involvement of a third party.
Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency has yet to release its findings.
A report by news agency Interfax in October quoted its chief Vladimir Uiba as saying Arafat “could not have been poisoned by polonium” but the medical agency later denied he had made any statement.
Palestinian Justice Minister Ali Mhanna last month urged France to release the results of its probe, saying the Palestinians were sure Arafat had been poisoned and that Israel was the “only suspect” in his death.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, who shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, said last month that the reports of polonium poisoning were unbelievable.
“If someone had wanted to get rid of Arafat, it would have been easier to do it with a bullet,” he said.
The Swiss team’s findings sparked fresh accusations from the Palestinians and increased tensions with Israel at a delicate time.
US-brokered peace talks resumed at the end of July after a three-year gap, but have already hit a deadlock over Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank on land the Palestinians want for their future state.
Arafat shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli leaders after signing the landmark Oslo accords in 1993, when hopes ran high for a negotiated settlement to the conflict.
Palestinian Authority security forces today arrested a prominent Palestinian-born Canadian businessman, weeks after he called for the downfall of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.
In the above Wattan TV video of Monday morning’s incident, Muhammad Sabawi, 68, chairman and general manager of Ahlia Insurance Group, can be seen arguing with a group of PA police officers who came to his office to take him away.
The video shows a clear shot of a police summons presented to Sabawi.
Sabawi was held by police for nine hours before being released, his son Khaled Sabawi, 30, told The Electronic Intifada from Ramallah this evening.
Khaled, who was with his father throughout the ordeal, said that the family’s lawyers, while initially present, were then ordered out.
Though his father was not presented with any formal charges, Khaled said that the arrest was retaliation for an incident that occurred during the visit to Ramallah last month of French president François Hollande last month.
Khaled also said that the Palestinian Authority had begun retaliating against the family’s businesses.
Yet Khaled recognized that his father would have faced a much worse fate were he not well-established in the business community and a Canadian citizen.
“Had my father been a regular Palestinian ID holder he would have faced what many face, which is being arrested and held for no charge for expressing dissent, for an unlimited time period,” he said.
“We’ve heard many examples of Palestinians being harassed, detained and humiliated by the Palestinian Authority simply for expressing their opinions.”
The Sabawis ought to be the sort of people that the Palestinian Authority sees as the backbone of the state and economy it claims it wants to build, but today’s incident suggests that the Abbas regime will not brook dissent or defiance from any quarter.
French president’s visit
On 14 November, Khaled happened to be in Paris to receive the Takreem Young Entrepreneur Award.
While there, he received an email from a member of his staff saying that the Abbas presidential guard had called to ask to place snipers on the roof of the Ramallah office building owned by the Sabawis and which houses their companies during the upcoming visit of the French president.
The building also houses the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. As landlords to a UN agency, the Sabawis must meet stringent criteria.
Khaled told his colleague to inform the presidential guard that they should send a request in writing so that the matter could be discussed and coordinated with the UN. The request never came, he said.
However on 18 November, the day of Hollande’s visit, as Khaled was returning to the occupied West Bank via Jordan, he received a phone call from his staff saying that the presidential guard had arrived at the building with a letter demanding immediate access.
Khaled said the heavily-armed force intimidated the workers in the building, informing them “there’s no one higher than the president’s office.” The Palestinian Authority snipers scaled the fire escape and occupied the roof of the building.
Video footage below also shows armed, uniformed men entering the building through its front door.
During the incident, the police also attempted to arrest Muhammad Sabawi. Khaled says that he arrived back at the building to find employees forming a cordon around his father to prevent the police from taking him away.
Clearly angry at what happened, Muhammad Sabawi can be heard in this Wattan TV video of the 18 November incident declaring “the people want the downfall of President Mahmoud Abbas!”
The following day, Muhammad Sabawi went to the PA attorney general’s office with his lawyers to give an affidavit about what had happened, particularly the invasion of the building by the security forces.
Today’s arrest was an unexpected shock, Khaled said, and even after his father was taken to the police station, he was not presented with a formal complaint.
Later, Khaled said, a complaint was made – he believed from Abbas’ office – claiming Muhammad Sabawi had insulted the president.
From refugee to businessman
Muhammad Sabawi was born in the village of Salama, near Jaffa, in 1944, and he and his family fled to Gaza during the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
A student in Egypt in 1967, he was unable to return to Gaza when it was occupied by Israel in June that year. With a doctorate in risk management, Muhammad Sabawi went to Kuwait to begin his career and then emigrated to London, Ontario, Canada in 1987.
Muhammad Sabawi founded Ahlia Insurance Group in 1995, a publicly listed company with branches throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. He also founded Union Construction and Investment (UCI), which is now run by Khaled.
UCI pioneered geothermal heating systems in Palestine. Khaled, an engineer who was active in Palestine solidarity activism during his studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada, also runs a company called TABO, which aims to buy, register and subdivide plots of land. It then offers the plots to Palestinians with interest-free loans.
Most land traditionally owned and used by Palestinians in the West Bank is not registered,due to a 1968 Israeli military order halting land registration.
This has been used as a pretext by Israel to seize land for settlement, claiming that it is “state land.” Khaled describes TABO – which is for profit – as an effort to protect the land and place it in the hands of Palestinians who will use it.
Khaled told The Electronic Intifada that his company’s lawyer was informed by the general manager of the Palestinian Lands Authority today that all of TABO’s registration activities had been placed “under review.”
Khaled said he saw this as the first of a number of retaliatory measures that the PA would likely take.
Unbowed, he posted this status on his Facebook page this evening:
The PA leadership quivers in their collective boots every time a Tweet, Facebook [message], or article is published that uncovers more examples of their corruption, cronyism, nepotism and sheer ineptitude. This arrest was an attempt to humiliate my father – an independent investor who employs hundreds of Palestinians and has invested in renewable energy and expanding property rights for Palestinians. What the unelected, cynical, and morally bankrupt cronies in Mahmoud Abbas’s office don’t realize is that they just completely humiliated themselves and that this issue has made us stronger, more vigilant, and with your help, given us a bigger microphone.
Wattan TV reported that repeated requests for comment from the Palestinian Authority about the arrest of Sabawi went unanswered.
(Source / 03.12.2013)
Yasser Arafat’s widow Suha Arafat, who has argued her husband’s death was a political assassination, immediately challenged the French forensic tests.
Ailing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says goodbye to well-wishers as he boards a Jordanian army helicopter at dawn at the Muqatta, his West Bank offices in Ramallah in 2004.
Yasser Arafat was not the victim of poisoning, French forensic tests concluded on Tuesday, countering the theory put forward by a Swiss report on the 2004 death of the Palestinian leader.
The French conclusions were immediately challenged by his widow Suha Arafat, who has argued the death was a political assassination by someone close to her husband. A senior Palestinian official dismissed the report as “politicized”.
(Source / 03.12.2013)
Like every Monday morning, relatives and friends, as well as local and international activists, gathered at the International Committee of the Red Cross in solidarity with the Palestinian political prisoners.
The rally started with the protesters chanting slogans, especially about their homeland Palestine and the political prisoner Marwan Barghouti.
Wives and mothers of the detainees stood in the middle of the tent holding pictures and banners of their imprisoned relatives.
After the weekly ceremony in support of the prisoners, Isra W. Almodallal, spokeswoman of the Palestinian government in Gaza, and Italian ISM activist Rosa Schiano spoke against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Italy.
In their speeches, they highlighted how the agreements signed in the day’s bilateral meeting between Italy and Israel are violations of human rights and international law. They warned against the dangers of the military and scientific cooperation between the two countries and called for BDS campaigns as alternatives to cooperation with war criminals.
BDS directly affects Israel’s detention of Palestinians, since one of the companies targeted by BDS, the British-Danish G4S, operates inside Israeli prisons and detention facilities.
- (Source / 03.12.2013)
Supporters of Alaa Hammad keep a weekly vigil for Palestinian detainees in Gaza.
Muntaha Qasem, Hammad’s wife, has not spoken with her husband directly since the early stages of his fast. “I’ve only been able to phone him once since he began his hunger strike,” she told The Electronic Intifada by telephone from Amman, Jordan. “And even then it was less than five minutes.”
Hammad, a 35-year-old who began his hunger strike on 2 May, holds an Israeli-issued identity card for Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, as well as Jordanian citizenship. Having been denied all family visits from relatives in Jordan who do not have Jerusalem residency or a passport issued by the Palestinian Authority, he and four other Palestinian political prisoners with Jordanian nationality have demanded to either be released or transferred to prison in Jordan.
He is the final remaining hunger striker from that group.
Transferred to hospital
Recalling that “he seemed strong and his voice sounded powerful” the last time that she spoke to him on the telephone, Qasem added that Hammad’s lawyer informed her on 25 November that he had been transferred to a hospital in Ashkelon, a city in present-day Israel.
Hammad is the only person from his family to be imprisoned by Israel. His arrest took place during a 2006 business trip to Jerusalem.
Not having any political ties, Qasem said, Hammad was looking into starting a fresh fruit cocktail café and applying for family reunification to bring his wife and children, who carry only Jordanian citizenship, with him to either Jerusalem or the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
“His friend [in Syria] had helped teach him how to make fresh fruit cocktails and ice cream,” said Qasem. “As a family we had all visited his friends in Syria a few years back. He was just calling for help, to ask questions about how to get his business started.”
After surrounding his home at approximately 2am on 24 November 2006, Israeli soldiers broke in and arrested him. “They tore apart the whole house searching for evidence. They even ripped the electricity outlets from the walls,” Qasem recalled.
Hammad was eventually charged with involvement in an alleged plot to kidnap an Israeli soldier and having contact with Syria, considered a “hostile state” by Israel. “He was in interrogation and tortured in a compound [in Jerusalem] for two months before he was transferred to a prison,” Qasem explained. “Under torture, he eventually confessed to thinking about kidnapping an Israeli soldier to facilitate another prisoner exchange.”
Qasem said that her husband only confessed to end the torture. He was subsequently convicted by an Israeli military court and sentenced to twelve years in prison.
An Israeli military document published in 2010 found that 99.74 percent of Palestinians tried in a military court were convicted (“Nearly 100% of all military court cases in West Bank end in convictions, Haaretz learns,” Haaretz, 29 November 2011).
Despite having no known political affiliations, Israeli intelligence told Hammad’s lawyer that there was a “huge file” of information about him, and he was classified by prison authorities as a Hamas member once he entered jail.
Rarely granted permission to make phone calls, Hammad has had sparse contact with his wife and their six children, who are between the ages of six and fourteen. Because Hammad’s mother holds an Israeli-issued Jerusalem identity card, she is the only relative who has been permitted to visit him in prison throughout the last seven years.
“I won’t lie, this has all been very difficult. Not just his imprisonment, but it’s also very hard raising six kids on your own. I hope God will give me patience and strength,” Qasem said.
“The kids are constantly asking about their father. Since we learned that he would be spending twelve years in prison, they have been counting down the days until he comes home,” she said.
Randa Kamel, an advocacy officer for Addameer, told The Electronic Intifada that “Israel is obliged by international law to allow family visits, as is outlined in the Third Geneva Convention and the Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners.
“Currently, most of the Jordanian prisoners were arrested for alleged ‘military activities,’ so they are considered prisoners of war … and Israel uses this classification to deny them family visits. However, other rights that should be provided to prisoners of war … including everything from prisoners of war camps to receiving parcels, have been [denied],” she explained.
Other Palestinian political prisoners not holding Jordanian citizenship have been permitted family visits, despite also being classified by Israel as prisoners of war. “This just furthers the arbitrary circumstances that the prisoners live under, and [Israel uses] family visits to manipulate or punish the prisoners.”
The four other Jordanian prisoners — Abdullah Barghouthi, Mohammad Rimawi, Hamza Othman and Munir Maree — ended their fasts in August after 102 days. Addameer reported that “the lack of international attention was one of the primary factors in ending [their] hunger strikes” (“Lack of international attention primary reason for cessation of Jordanian prisoners’ hunger strikes,” 22 August 2013).
In the past, Israel transferred prisoners of Jordanian nationality to Jordanian control on the basis of the Wadi Araba agreement, the 1994 treaty that normalized relations between Israel and Jordan.
This practice was implemented in the past when four Jordanian nationals serving life sentences in Israeli prisons were transferred back to Jordan: Sultan al-Ajlouni, Amir Sanae and brothers Khaled and Yusef Abu Ghaleon (“Jordan frees prisoners who killed Israelis,”The Times of Malta, 20 August 2008).
Although the Wadi Araba agreement does not explicitly stipulate that Israel must transfer prisoners with Jordanian nationality, Kamel said “there is no reason this should not be applied to other prisoners with Jordanian citizenship” today.
According to international and Palestinian human rights groups, the Israeli Prison Serviceresorts to widespread violations of human rights. Among the tactics used to pressure hunger strikers to abandon their fasts are withholding medication, blocking access to lawyers, denying family visits and physical assault.
In July, Addameer noted that Hammad had been denied liquid vitamins for a brief period and threatened with force-feeding, a practice considered by many to be torture (“Punishments escalate against 12 remaining hunger strikers,” 24 July 2013).
Addameer’s lawyers have since been denied permission to visit him.
During the same period, another hunger-striking prisoner, Mohammad Tabeesh, was beaten violently by Israeli prison guards, particularly “on his hands his hands and legs where he still has scars today,” according to Addameer. The prison guards also taunted several hunger strikers by “cooking and eating near their cells, and ‘roughing them up’ while they are handcuffed to their beds,” the advocacy group added.
Although Hammad was transferred to a hospital, his family expressed fears that he was still being denied adequate health care.
On 5 November, Hassan Turabi, a 22-year-old Palestinian prisoner from the Nablus area of the occupied West Bank, died of leukemia. The fifth prisoner to die in Israeli detention so far this year, Turabi’s death prompted accusations of “medical negligence” from human rights groups and Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of prisoner affairs (“Young Palestinian prisoner dies in Israeli jail,” Ma’an News Agency).
Hammad’s health has reportedly suffered since the last time his wife spoke to him.
“The lawyer was only able to meet with him for seven minutes, and he said that he appeared very sick,” Qasem explained. “He said [Hammad’s] voice sounds weak and he speaks slowly. He cannot move well and suffers from chronic headaches. Until now, thank God, tests say his kidneys are okay, but he’s becoming so sick that doctors cannot even find a vein to administer glucose.”
Hammad’s name has been widely circulated on the Internet as a result of activists’ efforts to raise solidarity for him and other Palestinian political prisoners. “It’s really amazing the kind of support we’re getting from everywhere,” Qasem said.
“There are protests from the United States to Europe, and every night from ten til eleven there is a Twitter campaign with a hashtag that includes Alaa’s name and the number of days he’s been on hunger strike … there are thousands of people participating.”
In the besieged Gaza Strip, occupied East Jerusalem and the broader West Bank, protests on Hammad’s behalf are part of a movement to cultivate solidarity for Palestinian political prisoners behind Israeli bars.
On 16 October, Palestinians protested for Hammad outside the International Committee of the Red Cross office in Gaza City and held a sit-in during a weekly vigil for prisoners and detainees (“Gaza supporters rally for Alaa Hammad, keep weekly vigil for Palestinian detainees,” International Solidarity Movement, 16 October 2013).
“Even with all the suffering in Gaza, people still care about my husband’s struggle,” Qasem noted.
Since August, international solidarity organizers have also held a number of demonstrations outside the Jordan International Bank in London.
Qasem added that she has received letters of support and solidarity from Europe, the US and across the Middle East and North Africa, including Turkey and Algeria.
In Jordan, she said, “We’ve protested in front of the BBC” for its silence on Hammad’s case, and “there are plans to protest in front of the Israeli embassy in Jordan soon.”
The “overwhelming” solidarity from across the globe “makes us feel that the world is still good,” said Qasem.
Yet as was the case with dozens of high-profile, long-term hunger strikers in the past, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority has failed to act meaningfully.
“There has been absolutely no support or contact from them,” said Qasem. “There’s been nothing from other Arab governments, either.
“From everything we’ve seen so far the Jordanian government isn’t bothering to interfere. Even though they are constantly updating me on Alaa’s situation and saying that they’re checking up on him, there hasn’t been any actual work on the ground.
“We have an embassy in Tel Aviv. If the Jordanian government was actually trying to do anything, they would have already been negotiating for Alaa’s release or transfer.”
According to Qasem, the Jordanian ambassador to Israel only visited Hammad for the first time more than forty days after his initial arrest.
As Hammad’s health continues to deteriorate, his wife calls on activists and people across the world to increase their efforts. “People need to increase the pressure on the governments involved, especially the Jordanian government,” she said.
(Source / 03.12.2013)