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Ten Palestinians killed in Israeli raid

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Israeli forces have killed nine Palestinians, including at least seven militants and a 61-year-old woman, in the deadliest single incident in the occupied West Bank in two decades, Palestinian officials say.

The raid prompted Palestinian leaders to cut security ties with Israel, a move that could lead to more violence.

The Israeli military also fatally shot a 22-year-old Palestinian later in a separate incident.

The raid in the Jenin refugee camp on Thursday increases the risk of a major flare-up in Israeli-Palestinian fighting, poses a test for Israel’s new hardline government and casts a shadow on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s expected trip to the region next week.

Raising the stakes, the Palestinian Authority said it would halt the ties that its security forces maintain with Israel in a shared effort to contain Islamic militants.

The PA already has limited control over scattered enclaves in the West Bank, and almost none over militant strongholds such as the Jenin camp, but the announcement could pave the way for Israel to step up operations it says are needed to prevent attacks.

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, threatened revenge for the raid. Violent escalations in the West Bank have previously triggered retaliatory rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces in the West Bank and on the Gaza frontier went on heightened alert. Palestinians filled the streets, chanting in solidarity with Jenin, and President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning.

In the refugee camp, residents dug a mass grave for the dead.

PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Abbas had decided to cut security co-ordination in “light of the repeated aggression against our people, and the undermining of signed agreements”, referring to commitments from the Oslo peace process in the 1990s.

He also said the Palestinians planned to file complaints with the UN Security Council, International Criminal Court and other international bodies.

The PA last cut security co-ordination with Israel in 2020 over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s drive to annex the occupied West Bank.

But six months later, the PA resumed co-operation, signalling the financial importance of the relationship and the Palestinians’ relief at the election of President Joe Biden.

Barbara Leaf, the top US diplomat for the Middle East, said the administration was deeply concerned about the situation and that civilian casualties reported in Jenin were “quite regrettable”.

But she also said the Palestinian announcement to suspend security ties was a mistake.

“We want to see them move back in the other direction,” she said, adding: “They need to engage with each other.”

There have been no serious peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in well over a decade.

Thursday’s gunbattle that left nine dead and 20 wounded erupted when Israel’s military conducted a rare daytime operation in the Jenin camp that it said was meant to prevent an imminent attack on Israelis.

The camp, where the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group has a major foothold, has been a focus of near-nightly Israeli arrest raids.

Hamas’ armed wing claimed four of the dead as members, while Islamic Jihad said three others belonged to the group.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade also claimed one of the dead, and the Palestinian health ministry identified the 61-year-old woman killed as Magda Obaid.

Israeli forces later fatally shot a 22-year-old and wounded two others, the Palestinian health ministry said, as Palestinians confronted Israeli troops north of Jerusalem to protest Thursday’s raid.

Tensions have soared since Israel stepped up raids in the West Bank last spring, following a series of Palestinian attacks.

Israel’s new national security minister, far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir, who seeks to grant legal immunity to Israeli soldiers who shoot Palestinians, posted a video of himself beaming triumphantly and congratulating security forces.

UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland said he was “deeply alarmed and saddened” by the violence.

Australian Associated Press


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Article source: Canberra Times

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Is Also a Looming Climate Disaster

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Israel and the Palestinian territories are among the most climate vulnerable places on the planet. Yet the newly-formed government led by Benjamin Netanyahu has focused more on shoring up far-right support than addressing the challenges of global warming in the region.

Whereas worldwide temperatures have increased by an average of 1.1°C since pre-industrial times, in Israel and the surrounding areas, average temperatures have risen by 1.5°C (2.7°F) between 1950 and 2017, according to the Israeli Meteorological Service, with a forecasted increase of 4°C (7.2°F) by the end of the century. Meanwhile, rising sea levels—projected by Israel’s Environment Ministry to be as high as a meter by 2050, according to a new investigative report by Haaretz newspaper—threaten to obliterate Israel’s famed beaches, damage its desalination plants and undermine the sewage and drainage

systems of many coastal cities. In the densely populated Gaza strip, where 2.1 million Palestinians are crammed into 365 square km (141 sq. mi.), sea level rise means a loss of precious real estate as well as saltwater intrusion into an already overtaxed aquifer.

In an arid region already threatened by desertification and declining precipitation, one would think that the looming climate catastrophe would catalyze a powerful climate movement. Instead, the whole thing is largely an afterthought. Climate made barely a ripple in the recent Israeli election, and in Palestinian politics, it has been sidelined by the government’s justified preoccupation with, well, Israeli occupation.In forming his new cabinet, Netanyahu replaced a vetted environmental protection minister with the former chairperson of the Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, who is widely considered to be more palatable to his ultra-conservative allies in the new government.

Politics trumping climate concerns is not unique to the Middle East. World leaders and global corporations promised substantial decarbonization programs at the United Nations’ 2021 climate talks in Glasgow, only to quietly walk them back a year later when war in the Ukraine and looming gas shortages threatened political stability. But in Israel and the Palestinian territories the threat is both existential and more acute.

In this contested land, climate action is hamstrung by zero-sum battles over territorial, political and historic rights, even as a warming climate exacerbates those tensions. “Everyone here is fighting over the land, but if we’re only going to spend our energy on politics, there won’t be any land worth living on left.” says an activist with One Climate, a joint Palestinian-Israeli movement advocating for climate justice. The activist, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, asked not to be identified for fear of compromising her work with a government organization. Even the group’s full name, One Climate From the Jordan River to the Sea, reflects the founders’ dilemma: by avoiding the contentious Israeli/Palestinian/occupied territories/annexed lands/West Bank and Gaza designations, the organization is hoping to focus on the one thing that all the region’s inhabitants should agree upon: the impending climate crisis.

Both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.The Palestinian territories, which contribute less than 0.01% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, have predicated the extent of their emissions reductions on whether or not the Israeli occupation continues: a 17.5% reduction of current emissions by 2040 if it does, and by 26.6% if it ends.

As for Israel, the country continues to develop newly discovered natural gas reserves off the coast. And when it comes to climate adaptation and environmental protection, it largely focuses on technological innovations such as the desalination of seawater and precision irrigation, costly solutions that only partially solve future problems. Nor do those innovations extend to the intertwined patchwork of Palestinian communities that share contested lands in the occupied West Bank, or to the Gaza Strip, setting the stage for increased tensions as resources dwindle. The heatwaves, water scarcity, food insecurity, storms, and flooding that come with a warming climate don’t stop at political boundaries, says Nada Majdalani, Palestinian director at EcoPeace Middle East, an NGO made up of Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists. “We are all in the same boat. Even if the Israelis have resilience mechanisms in place. It doesn’t matter. When the Titanic hits the iceberg, everyone sinks.”

The problem, says Majdalani, is that both Palestinians and Israelis are so focused on the politics of their current existence that they can’t plan for future threats. The late Palestinian-American social commentator and literary critic Edward Said once dismissed environmentalism as “the indulgence of spoiled tree huggers who lack a proper cause.” That sentiment still lingers, Majdalani says, casting climate activism as secondary to establishing a fully independent Palestinian state. “The average Palestinian wakes up in the morning worrying about how to get to work without crossing a checkpoint. Their priority is the [Israeli] occupation. For the Israelis, it’s security, the sense that there is a dangerous enemy on the other side that needs to be controlled.”

Dror Etkes, an Israeli activist who campaigns against the growing number of illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian controlled West Bank, says that Palestinians are given little choice but to focus on the immediate threat. “Of course climate change is important. It’s going to influence life here enormously. But when you’re almost drowning, you don’t have the time to think about anything else. You just want to keep your head above the water.”

EcoPeace Middle East was founded in the wake of the 1994 Oslo peace accords in order to promote sustainable development and solutions to shared environmental challenges—especially the need for water—across conflict lines. Access to water has been a significant driver in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict, exacerbated by Israeli control of most of the area’s fresh water sources, and the fact that the average Israeli household uses three times as much water as a Palestinian one, largely due to the latter’s reduced access to piped water infrastructure. Climate change will make the problem worse. EcoPeace’s Green Blue Deal initiative proposes to build regional cooperation and interdependency at a government level by harnessing Jordanian solar plants to power Israeli and Palestinian desalination projects on their respective Mediterranean coastlines. The water would then be piped into the Palestinian Territories and to Jordan.

While European leaders have embraced the initiative, local activists are skeptical that the climate issue can be solved without addressing underlying political differences. Some 2 million Palestinians, for instance, live in the Gaza Strip, which Israel has blockaded since Hamas came to power through elections 15 years ago. Then, after hostilities flared with Israel in 2021, Israel further slowed or blocked the importation of spare parts, such as wide-diameter steel pipes vital for wastewater treatment.

As a result, some tens of thousands of cubic meters of sewage are seeping into groundwater and flowing into the Mediterranean Sea every day—resources that are used by Palestinians and Israelis alike. “It just demonstrates how ridiculous and short sighted the thinking can be,” says Majdalani. “The Israeli policy of blockading [certain] materials to Gaza is actually reversing badly on them. It’s like shooting yourself in the foot.” The two entities share the same land, water and sky, she says, but they act if they exist on separate planets. If political strategies get in the way of protecting what they already share, it’s hard to envision how they can plan for a future where those resources are even more at risk.
A Palestinian schoolboy stands near a wastewater channel that runs through the Gaza valley in Al-Mograqa village in Gaza on Nov. 6, 2022. (Ahmed Zakot—SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)
A Palestinian schoolboy stands near a wastewater channel that runs through the Gaza valley in Al-Mograqa village in Gaza on Nov. 6, 2022.
Ahmed Zakot—SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Even organizations like One Climate, which was founded to promote climate justice region-wide, struggles to knit together climate activism and environmental concerns without the group unravelling over Israeli-Palestinian politics. Influential Israeli climate activists worry that working with Palestinians will alienate Israel’s Jewish religious right, which is growing in power.

Meanwhile, the power imbalance between Jewish Israelis—even those who are politically left-wing—and Palestinians promotes fears among Palestinian climate activists that cooperation could be misinterpreted as “normalizing” relations before the conflict is resolved. It’s a situation that Majdalani, of EcoPeace, has frequently faced in her own activism. “There’s this pervasive sense of ‘we don’t cooperate with the occupier, it’s not the right political environment.’ But if we wait for the right political environment, we will lose more land. We will have more people suffering water shortages, more farmers leaving their farms, and the crisis will continue.”

Meanwhile, progress on the two-state solution has effectively stalled under a far-right government that opposes any efforts to create a viable Palestinian state. If the expansion of Israeli settlements on what is supposed to be Palestinian land in a two-state future continues at the same pace, says Etkes, the anti-settlement activist, “[Climate change] might not even be a Palestinian problem in 30 years, it might just be a purely Israeli one.”

-With reporting by Yasmeen Serhan / London

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Article source: Time Magazine

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

Palestinian backers and Israel at odds over holy site visit

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Palestinians and many Muslim and non-Muslim supporters sharply disagreed with Israel on Thursday at an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting over the visit of an ultranationalist Israeli Cabinet minister to a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site and its impact.

The Palestinians warned it could lead to another deadly uprising, while Israel dismissed it as “a trivial matter” and “non-event.”

The Palestinian U.N. ambassador, Riyad Mansour, said new Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, a West Bank settler leader who draws inspiration from a racist rabbi, didn’t go to visit the site, “but to pursue his extremist view, to end the historic status quo” under which Jews have been allowed to visit but not pray there since Israel captured the area in the 1967 war.

Known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, Arabic for the Noble Sanctuary, the site is the holiest in Judaism, home to the ancient biblical temples. Today, it houses the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. The site has been the scene of frequent clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces.

Calling Ben-Gvir “an extremist minister of an extremist state” who was convicted of incitement and is known for his “racist views,” Mansour said the Israeli minister is committed to allowing Jews to pray at al-Haram al-Sharif. He urged the Security Council and all countries to stop this from happening, and “to uphold international law and the historic status quo,” warning that “if they don’t, our Palestinian people will.”

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan, who also visited the Temple Mount as minister of public security in 2017, criticized the Security Council for holding the emergency meeting, saying Ben-Gvir’s 13-minute visit was non-violent and within the status quo and his right as a Jew.

Erdan told reporters that calling the meeting “is an insult to our intelligence” and “pathetic,” and that the council should instead be meeting about the war in Ukraine or Iran’s killing of protesters.

“Israel has not harmed the status quo and has no plans to do so,” Erdan said. “The only side that is changing the status quo is the Palestinian Authority. Why? Because by turning the site into a battleground … the Palestinian Authority is making it clear that not only is Jewish prayer intolerable on the Temple Mount, but so is any Jewish presence.”

“This is pure anti-Semitism,” he added.

Khaled Khiare, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs, briefed the council at the start of the meeting, saying that Ben-Gvir’s visit wasn’t accompanied or followed by violence. But, he said, “it is seen as particularly inflammatory,” given the minister’s “past advocacy for changes in the status quo.”

The visit sparked widespread condemnation in the region and internationally “as a provocation that risked sparking further bloodshed,” he said.

Khiare said that U.N. efforts to de-escalate the situation will continue and that “leaders on all sides have a responsibility to lower the flames and create the conditions for calm.”

In September 2000, Ariel Sharon, then Israel’s opposition leader, visited the Temple Mount, which helped spark clashes that led to a full-fledged Palestinian uprising known as the Second Intifada. The Security Council deplored Sharon’s visit, which it called a “provocation.”

Most recently, in April 2021, clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian demonstrators in and around the site also fueled an 11-day war with Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

When Ben-Gvir visited the Temple Mount on Tuesday he described it as “the most important place for the Jewish people” and decried what he called “racist discrimination” against Jewish visits to the site.

With the Islamic shrine the Dome of the Rock in the background, he said visits would continue. As for threats from Gaza’s Hamas militant group, Ben-Gvir said in a video clip taken during the visit: “The Israeli government won’t surrender to a murderous organization, to a vile terrorist organization.”

At the emergency meeting, which was called jointly by the Palestinians, the United Arab Emirates, China, France and Malta, all 15 council members expressed concern at Ben-Gvir’s visit and the potential fallout, and strongly supported the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites.

U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood underscored the firm support by President Joe Biden for “the historic status quo,” especially the “Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount.”

Wood said the United States, which is Israel’s closest ally, noted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s platform calling for preservation of the status quo, adding: “We expect the government of Israel to follow through on that commitment.”

Wood also said that the possibility of a two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be preserved, “and we must ensure all Israelis and Palestinians enjoy equal measures of freedom, justice, security and prosperity.”

UAE deputy ambassador Mohamed Abushahab, the Arab representative on the council, and Jordanian Ambassador Mahmoud Hmoud, whose country’s ruler is custodian of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites, both called Ben-Gvir’s act “the storming of Al Aqsa mosque” under protection of Israeli forces. They said it was a “provocative” move that violates the historic and legal status of Jerusalem’s holy sites.

Abushahab said the minister’s action further destabilizes the fragile situation in the Palestinian territories, moves the region further away from a path to peace, and threatens to escalate current tensions “and contribute to fueling and stoking extremism and hatred in the region.”

Hmoud warned that serious consequences and repercussions could result from any unilateral Israeli measures “that aim to impose new realities on the ground,” such as annexing more land, expanding settlements, violating Jerusalem’s holy sites or demolishing houses.

Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, expressed “serious concern” at Ben-Gvir’s visit and said he hoped the new Israeli Cabinet “will not take the path of escalation” and “create irreversible realities on the ground.”

“The explosive developments in Jerusalem once again demonstrate how urgent it is to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said.

He reiterated Russia’s call for a ministerial meeting of the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.N., U.S., Russia and the European Union — and key regional players to relaunch direct dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.

Nebenzia said the U.S, has “again and again refused to cooperate in resuming the peace process” under the Quartet, which he called the only internationally recognized mechanism approved by the Security Council.

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Article source: Associated Press

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

Letters to The Australian

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Israel must be strong

One can argue ad nauseam regarding Israel’s conservative political parties and their idiosyncracies (“Netanyahu must steer ship of state”, 28/12). Despite national opposition, past Israeli governments have returned strategically important regional areas to Arab overlords. The result has been catastrophic, militarily, with many Israeli lives lost. Until at least one influential representative Arab leader declares that the Palestinian Arabs accept the existence of the democratic state of Israel, in the first instance, it is all a waste of time.

Aviva Rothschild, Caulfield North, Vic

It’s a measure of the extremism represented in the governing coalition cobbled together by Benjamin Netanyahu that even the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council has voiced its concern. The far-right dogmatism and ambition of partners such as West Bank settlers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich pose a defiant challenge to Netanyahu’s captaincy.

He may well be “Israel’s longest-serving and most experienced political leader”, as Mark Leibler and Colin Rubenstein declare, but what they and your editorial fail to point out is that Netanyahu is exploiting all his political skills to battle corruption charges.

The Faustian pact he has forged with ultra-Zionist radicals may delay his reckoning but will not serve Israel well, much less address the moral malady that afflicts its nationhood, the entrench­ed and worsening disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people.

Tom Knowles, Parkville, Vic

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Article source: The Australian (29/12/2022)

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

Morocco’s World Cup streak brings a joyful Arab embrace

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Doha: It’s a rare moment in the Middle East when the public’s voice roars louder than those of the governments. But Morocco’s surprise string of wins at the World Cup in Qatar have stirred a joy and pride among Arab fans that have, at least for a moment, eclipsed the region’s many political divisions.

Perhaps most striking is the love fest between Palestinians and the Moroccan team, despite the Moroccan government’s normalisation of ties with Israel as part of the 2020 Abraham Accords.

The Moroccan team waved a Palestinian flag after its victory over Spain last week, thrilling Palestinians. Throughout the tournament, the Palestinian flag has been unfurled all over, carried by Arab fans and some non-Arabs — so much so that the running joke is that Palestine is the 33rd team at the World Cup.

Palestinians see it as a sign Arab public support still runs strong for their cause even as they feel Arab governments have abandoned them, with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan also normalising ties with Israel.

“I didn’t expect this. It’s spreading the word and showing that Palestine is not just a political issue, it’s a human issue,” said Ahmed Sabri, a young Palestinian in Doha after watching Morocco’s win over Portugal on Saturday. He had the Palestinian flag draped over his back.

His Egyptian friend, Yasmeen Hossam, wrapped in a Moroccan flag, said, “This is the first World Cup in the Middle East and the first one FOR the Middle East.”

Morocco is the first Arab and African team to make it this far in a World Cup, playing a semifinal Wednesday against France. Part of the Arab embrace of the team has come simply from having something to celebrate in a region where many countries are mired in economic crises, armed conflicts and political repression.

For some, it’s gratifying to see their culture displayed in a positive way on a massive international stage — whether it’s the Moroccan team doing a quick Muslim prayer during huddles or Morocco winger Soufiane Boufal dancing with his veiled mother on the pitch after the quarter-final victory over Portugal.

“We are all clinging to this Moroccan team as some sort of source of hope and happiness in a time where I think we all could really use some good news,” said Danny Hajjar, a Lebanese-American music writer.

The excitement with each victory has crossed boundaries and political divisions.

Algerians joined in, even though their government cut ties with Morocco last year. The two countries have a long-running conflict over Western Sahara, which Morocco annexed in 1975 and where Algeria long supported Sahrawis in the Polisario Front seeking independence. Algeria was angered by the US recognition of Moroccan sovereignty in the territory in exchange for normalisation with Israel.

At Morocco and Algeria’s often tense border, fans lined up on both sides and cheered to each other across no-man’s land, videos on social media showed. In the French city of Nice, diaspora Algerians and Tunisians joined Moroccans in cafes and in each others’ homes for the matches, setting off fireworks in celebration on the famed Mediterranean boardwalk Promenade des Anglais.

In contrast, Algerian state TV has not even reported on Morocco’s wins, leaving them out of daily World Cup reports.

For Palestinians, the games have been a breath of fresh air. The peace process with Israel has long mouldered in a jar on the shelf; a far-right government in Israel is poised to take office; tensions have risen in recent months with several deadly Palestinian attacks in Israel, near daily Israeli raids in the West Bank and increasing harassment by Jewish settlers.

At the same time, many Palestinians feel they have been forgotten by Arab governments; besides the Abraham Accords, countries like Egypt and Jordan have largely gone silent on the Palestinians’ future while increasing cooperation with Israel.

World Cup host Qatar has been a vocal supporter of Palestinians and a major economic lifeline for the Gaza Strip, governed by the Hamas militant group and under Egyptian and Israeli closure for years.

Ahmed Abu Suleiman, a soccer coach from the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, said he feels proud seeing the Palestinian flag so much among fans in Doha.

“Regimes change, but the people remain unchanged. They are thinking about the Palestinian issue, about the Palestinian wound,” he said.

Thousands of people packed a Gaza City sporting hall with a large screen donated by Qatar to watch the Morocco-Portugal match. Many held posters showing the Palestinian and Morocco flags and the slogan, “One People, One Country.”

“It’s an indescribable feeling. I swear it’s as if it’s Palestinians that were playing,” said one fan, Ibrahim al-Lilli. “All of us are Morocco.”

Scenes of jubilation also took place across the West Bank after the win. In east Jerusalem, two men stood atop the Old City’s Damascus gate holding a red Moroccan flag while hundreds below cheered and chanted, “God, Morocco, Jerusalem is Arab”.

The Moroccan victory also reverberated in Israel, home to hundreds of thousands of Jews of Moroccan descent. Many Israelis, including ones attending in Doha, were rooting for the team.

Avi Nachmani, a spokesman for the Israel-based World Federation of Moroccan Jewry, said many Israelis of Moroccan origin maintain a strong connection to their roots. “This flourishing of the team really adds to the affinity,” he said.

He said scenes of players celebrating with their mothers reminded him of the way Moroccan Jews honour their parents. “They don’t forget where they came from,” he said.

But some were dismayed by shows of the Palestinian flag. In Israel and east Jerusalem, police move quickly to tear down any display of the flag, though it is not specifically banned.

Rudy Rochman, an Israeli of Moroccan descent, said he felt a connection to the Moroccan team. But he called the unfurling of the Palestinian flag “intentionally offensive to Israel”.

On social media, some said Arab enthusiasm for Morocco erases the large ethnic Berber population that is equally if not more a part of the country’s identity. Other voices said Morocco’s hold on Western Sahara and discrimination felt by many Sahrawis were lost in the cheers.

Lebanon may be the most complicated, as sectarian divisions seep into soccer loyalties. While Lebanese are overwhelmingly Brazil or Germany fans, many have adopted Morocco and rejoiced in the streets after the win over Portugal.

The semi-final with France is more divisive. Much of the Arab world sees a chance for a former colony to give its one-time coloniser its comeuppance. But some in Lebanon feel cultural affinity with France, particularly Christians.

After the Portugal game, scuffles broke out in Beirut after a group of Morocco fans from a Muslim-majority neighbourhood rode through a Christian area on motorcycles, some hoisting Palestinian flags and chanting “God is the greatest.” They were accosted by a group of men from the area who saw the convoy as a sectarian provocation.

Given the history of divisions and the 15-year civil war, the music writer Hajjar said he wouldn’t be surprised if there was more street friction around the semi-final. But, he said, he was “hoping that we can all just enjoy the match for what it will be.”


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Article source: Sydney Morning Herald, 13/12/2022

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

Israel’s Relentless War against the Children of Palestine

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By Ilan Pappe

“Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give.” Preamble, UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959)

More than half of the population living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are below 18; in fact, one can confidently say that half of the people of the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip are children. Anyone who wages a war against these two territories, through house demolition, arrests without trial, shoot-to-kill policy, and humiliation, is waging war against children.

At times, whole military brigades of the Israeli army, accompanied by elite units, border police, and police chase a boy and, in most cases, kill him or at best arrest him.

If there is anything that changed in the last few years in what finally the United Nations was willing to call the colonization of Palestine, it is the intensification of the Israeli shoot-to-kill policy. And although so many of us understand that the new Israeli government will not change the policies the previous governments pursued, one can expect further brutalization in the war against the children of Palestine.

As I write this column, the news has reached us of the murder by Israeli soldiers of Fulla Rasmi Abd al-Aziz al-Musalamah. She was on her way to celebrating her 16th birthday. She was with others in a car near Beitunia, when the soldiers, without any reason, opened fire on the car and killed her. Needless to say, the Israeli newspaper reporting the “incident” blamed the driver and did not even bother to mention her name.

The killing of children is not a new aspect of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. By April 1948, the military leadership of the Zionist forces began to strategize more clearly its policy towards any population that would be left in the villages they occupied during the 1948 ethnic cleansing. One of its clear guidelines was to either kill or send to a prison camp, at the discretion of the commander on the spot, “men at a fighting age”. The command clearly defines what is meant by men: anyone above the age of ten.

Very much like any destructive Israeli policy since the massive expulsion and killings of 1948, a new method of incremental piecemeal action and policy became the norm. It is a very deceptive policy as whomever you want to alert is faced with a killing of one or two persons every now and then, and the dots are not easily connected to produce a damming indictment. This was true in the early 1950s, but of course, since then, the numbers are massive and this incremental killing is far more visible.

In November 1950, the Israeli army shot dead three children, ages 8, 10 and 12, from the village of Yalo, while in 1952, the Israeli commando murdered 4 children, ranging from ages 6 to 14, in Beit Jalla. A year later, among the five shepherds the Israeli killed in February 1953, one was a 13-year-old boy from al-Burg.

The incremental infanticide at times is replaced by a more intensive killing of children. During the First Intifada, according to the association of Israeli and Palestinian physicians for human rights, every two weeks, a child under six was shot in the head by the Israeli army.

During the Second Intifada, 600 Palestinian children were killed. Among them, are the 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura, the 14-year-old Fairs Odeh, and the 11-year-old Khalil al-Mughrabi. Five thousand children were wounded. In 2007, the Israeli air force killed 8 children of the Shehadeh family in Gaza.

In the first wave of attack on Gaza in 2008, more than 300 children died, and another 30 in 2012. And the highest death recorded in 2014, with more than 550 children. Put differently, since 2000, 2,250 Palestinian children were killed by the Israeli army and security forces. This is equivalent to the killing of nearly 45,000 children in Britain by a military or police force since 2000.

Why is it so important to record these grim and horrifying data and define clearly its legal and moral significance? For a few reasons. First, the fact that only here, in an alternative media outlet, you will be aware of these atrocities, is an indication of the hypocrisy of the Western media and political elite when it comes to Palestine, compared to the compassion shown towards children in the Ukraine or Iran.

Secondly, these figures accentuate the existential threat Zionism and Israel still pose to the Palestinian people and their future. It is not only land that Israel covets; it is intent on continuing the destruction of the people themselves.

But most important than all is the infuriating exemption of Palestine from the international discussion of the mass killing in general and that of children in particular. Take for example the international definition of mass killing. It is defined as:

“The deliberate actions of armed groups, including but not limited to state security forces…that result in the death of at least 1000 non-combatant civilians targeted as part of a specific group over a period of one year or less.”

In the First and Second Intifada, in 2009 and in 2014, the number of Palestinians killed by Israel exceeded by far one thousand. Nowhere in the UN or another human organization recording mass killings worldwide, do the Palestinians appear as a case study.

The game is not of numbers of course, but much more about the ideology that facilitates such mass killing; a kind of inhumanity only possible if the humans you target are dehumanized. An ideology that leads in many cases to genocidal policies. The definition of genocide according to article 2 of the UN charter on Genocide includes mass killing, bodily and mental harm, and physical desertion as indicators of such policies.

The report of the special representative of the Secretary-General in October 2009 and updated in November 2013, lists six grave violations of international human right law regarding children’s rights in armed conflict. There is no armed conflict in Palestine and yet, three of these grave violations occur daily in the colonized West Bank and occasionally, in massive numbers, in besieged Gaza Strip.

Killing and maiming of children, attacks against schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access. Some of the Israeli policies enacted during the siege on Gaza, in terms of denial of food, energy, and above all medical help, create a criterion by itself that should have been added to this document.

In August this year, UN Human Rights Chief, Michelle Bachelet, expressed alarm at the high number of Palestinians, including children, killed and injured in the occupied Palestinian territory since the beginning of 2022. She was referring to the killing of 37 children from the beginning of the year until that August and was particularly horrified by the killing of 19 children in one week. She stated:

“Inflicting hurt on any child during the course of conflict is deeply disturbing, and the killing and maiming of so many children this year is unconscionable.”

As a father myself, I would have used a stronger word than “unconscionable”. But I will be content with it if the Israeli mass killing of Palestinian children will not be denied anymore or marginalized and will appear as an urgent topic in the venues where the international community discusses the gravest violations of human rights in our time, and act upon it.


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Article source: The Palestine Chronicle

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000