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UK places sanctions on Israeli settlers for ‘forcing’ Palestinians from their land

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13 February 2024, The Guardian, by Peter Beaumont: The UK has imposed sanctions against four Israeli nationals, saying they were “extremist settlers” who had violently attacked Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The measures impose strict financial and travel restrictions on the four individuals, who Britain said were involved in “egregious abuses of human rights”.


Israeli military kills Palestinian gunman as settlers rampage through Palestinian town

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JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian assailant opened fire at an Israeli military checkpoint in the West Bank on Saturday before being shot and killed, Israeli police said. Elsewhere in the occupied territory, settlers rampaged through a Palestinian village, hurling stones, spraying bullets and setting fire to homes, the latest in a series of settler attacks this week.

The Palestinian gunman approached Israeli troops stationed at the Qalandiya checkpoint outside Jerusalem early in the morning, pulled out an M16 rifle and opened fire, the Israeli police said.

Israeli security forces said they shot back, killing the suspected assailant. According to the Israeli rescue service, two security guards in their 20s were hospitalized with minor wounds — at least one from bullet fragments. There was no immediate word on the attacker’s identity.

Later on Saturday, residents of the Palestinian village of Umm Safa said that some 50 Israeli settlers armed with rifles and flammable liquid stormed through the streets and tried to set fire to at least five homes with people inside. The Israeli military said it sent security forces to the scene and arrested an Israeli citizen.

Palestinian rescue teams said they evacuated small children who were suffocating and trapped inside a burning house.

Some settlers also opened fire at civilians and medics. A local station, Palestine TV, said settlers fired at Mohammed Radi, its correspondent covering the attacks, shattering his camera. The Palestinian Red Crescent said that one of its medics was wounded by gunfire.

Another two medics were wounded when settlers threw a large rock at an ambulance, which crashed through the windshield.

Israeli settlers also shot and killed a horse in the village, said resident Ibrahim Ebiat. “This is pure terror,” he said. “People are scared and angry.”

Young Palestinians threw rocks at Israeli security forces who opened fire and unleashed tear gas at them, witnesses said. The Israeli military said it was “working to disperse the friction.” One soldier was wounded by a thrown stone, it said, denouncing the violence.

The head of the Israeli opposition, Yair Lapid, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “condemn this disgrace and deal with it properly.”

“Settler violence has crossed every line,” he said.

Top Israeli security officials condemned the settler violence late Saturday.

“They constitute, in every way, nationalist terrorism, and we are obliged to fight them,” Israel’s military chief, police chief and the head of the Shin Bet internal security agency said in a joint statement. They said the army will divert security forces to prevent further rampages while the Shin Bet will carry out an increased number of arrests.

“We call on the leaders and educators in the communities to publicly denounce these acts of violence and to join the effort to fight against them,” they said. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant issued a separate statement condemning the settler violence.

The events capped a bloody week in the West Bank that left 16 Palestinians and four Israelis dead.

An hours-long gun battle between Israeli security forces and Palestinian militants in the northern Jenin refugee camp killed seven Palestinians and wounded eight Israeli soldiers earlier this week. Two Palestinian gunmen then killed four Israeli civilians at a gas station before being shot and killed.

Then, a rare Israeli airstrike by a pilotless drone killed three Palestinian militants in a car. Israeli settler attacks in revenge for the deadly Palestinian shooting left one Palestinian dead, many wounded and a trail of destruction through Palestinian towns.

The settler violence has drawn international criticism, including from Israel’s closest ally, the United States. In a conversation with his Israeli counterpart, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan expressed “deep concern” over the settler violence, the White House said. “He reiterated the importance of holding accountable those responsible for such acts of violence.”

On Saturday, Palestinian health officials also said that a 39-year-old man, Tariq Idris, died of wounds sustained in confrontations with Israeli security forces in the northern city of Nablus the day before. The Israeli military had raided Nablus to arrest three suspected Palestinian militants and fired at residents who shot at them and threw Molotov cocktails, it said.

The spiraling violence has increased pressure on Netanyahu’s far-right government, with its hard-liners calling for a broad military operation against Palestinian militants, as well as on the Palestinian Authority, which has come under criticism for failing to protect Palestinian civilians.

This year has been one of the deadliest for Palestinians in the West Bank in years. At least 137 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank and east Jerusalem so far in 2023, according to a tally by The Associated Press, nearly half of them affiliated with militant groups. As of Saturday, 24 people on the Israeli side have been killed in Palestinian attacks, most of them civilians.

Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for a future independent state.

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Article source: Associated Press | Isabel Debre | 24.6.23

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

“World’s oldest hatred”: Rabbi Shmuley claims people who attack Israel hate Jews

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Author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says when people claim they hate Israel but love Jewish people, they are “dyed in the wool liars” and anti-Semites.

He said Jewish people are not hated because of “Israeli aggression”, but rather Israel is hated because of anti-Semitism.

“The reason why people attack Israel is they don’t care about Arab rights and they don’t care about Arab LGBTQ rights – they care about hating Jews,” Rabbi Shmuley told Sky News host Rita Panahi.

“This is the world’s oldest hatred, we see it repeated over and over again.”

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Article source: Sky News, 29/12/2022

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Netanyahu must steer ship of state

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After weeks of political horse trading after his clear victory in Israel’s November 1 election, Benjamin Netanyahu at last has been able to advise President Isaac Herzog that he has the numbers to secure his return as prime minister. That reflects a remarkable comeback by Mr Netanyahu, 73, who appeared headed for political oblivion when he lost office 18 months ago. His leadership should do much to fortify Israel’s defiance against the existential threats it faces from Iran and terrorist groups including Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

But he must not ignore reservations that exist about the deals done to form a coalition that critics say will be the most far-right government in the Jewish state’s history. For once, it is not only the usual claque of mindless anti-Israel campaigners who are worried about some of the names included in Mr Netanyahu’s line-up. Significantly, the influential Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, which has led the way supporting successive Israeli governments for many years, has expressed concern. In a joint statement congratulating Mr Netanyahu, chairman Mark Leibler and executive director Colin Rubenstein said: “Mr Netanyahu is, of course, Israel’s longest-serving and most experienced political leader. We take him at his word that he will be the one steering the ship of state, not his coalition partners. We hope and expect that this means that he will ensure that the inflammatory rhetoric and radical proposals that have emanated from some members of the new governing coalition will not define the domestic or foreign policies of the new government.”

Like the US and other Western governments, the AIJAC is concerned about the presence in the new government of leaders of Religious Zionism, among others. One leader, Itamar Ben-Gvir, is a firebrand West Bank settler and ultranationalist who was a follower of Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose anti-Arab group was labelled a terrorist movement by the US. Once convicted of racism, Mr Ben-Gvir was barred from serving in the Israeli military because of his activism in extremist organisations. He will be the new security tsar with powers over Israel’s police and the West Bank. Bezalel Smotrich, another West Bank settler and ultranationalist proponent of annexation of the Palestinian territories, is an outspoken homophobe who, as finance minister, will control the West Bank’s administration. Others among the ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties that have gone into coalition with Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party are also extreme. Their demands delayed finalisation of the six-party coalition, with Mr Netanyahu forced to ask Mr Herzog for extra time.

Mr Netanyahu’s imperative was to ensure his return to office for a sixth term. But in doing so he must not lose sight of the concerns held by some of Israel’s best friends about the controversial make-up of the coalition. US ambassador to Israel Tom Nides has avoided saying he will work with far-right members of the new government. But he will work with Mr Netanyahu who, as the AIJAC noted, has promised his hands will be firmly on the wheel of government. It would do Israel no good if Mr Netanyahu did otherwise. Amid the deepening existential threat it faces, the Jewish state’s best course, as always, is a sensible two-state solution to the Palestinian problem, and in building a united, democratic Israel able to deal with security and economic challenges. Although the extremists have helped Mr Netanyahu reclaim the prime ministership, their divisiveness and racism are unlikely to help him achieve those goals. As the AIJAC said, Mr Netanyahu, not his controversial coalition partners, must “be the one steering the ship of state”.

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Article source: Australian editorial, 28/12/2022

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Israelis have put Benjamin Netayahu back in power. Palestinians will likely pay the price

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Israelis Have Put Benjamin Netanyahu Back in Power. Palestinians Will Likely Pay the Price.

Dec. 13, 2022, 5:05 a.m. ET

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By Diana Buttu (New York Times)

Ms. Buttu is a lawyer and former adviser to the negotiating team of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

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HAIFA, Israel — As the prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu finalizes the formation of Israel’s most extreme right-wing government to date, I, along with other Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied territories, am filled with dread about what the next few years will bring.

Every day since the elections, Palestinians wake up with a what-now apprehension, and more often than not, there’s yet another bit of news that adds to our anxiety. The atmosphere of racism is so acute that I hesitate to speak or read Arabic on public transportation. Palestinian rights have been pushed to the back burner.

We Palestinians live knowing that a vast majority of Israeli politicians don’t support an end to Israel’s military rule over the West Bank and Gaza Strip nor equality for all of its citizens. We are made to feel as though we are interlopers whose presence is temporary and simply being tolerated until such time as it is feasible to get rid of us.

According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 48 percent of Jewish Israelis agree that “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.” I look around in my mixed Haifa neighborhood and wonder which of my neighbors voted for the extremist candidates who have voiced similar opinions. “It is only a matter of time before we are gone,” my friends tell me. To add insult to injury, Israelis blame Palestinians for the rise in extremism and racism, rather than looking at how racism has become normalized in Israeli society. It is blaming the victim rather than the aggressor.

Since his recent election, Mr. Netanyahu has been offering important positions in government to vocal anti-Palestinian politicians. The incoming governing coalition includes the extremist and racist Otzma Yehudit, or Jewish Power, party, whose leaders have a history of supporting violence against Palestinians.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, a settler who leads the Jewish Power party, has been convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist group. Earlier this month, Mr. Ben-Gvir reportedly hailed an Israeli soldier who fatally shot a Palestinian young man in the West Bank during a scuffle — an act caught on video and widely circulated on social media — by remarking, “Precise action, you really fulfilled the honor of all of us and did what was assigned to you.” Israel’s current police chief blamed him for helping ignite the surge in violence in May 2021. He will now be minister for national security, putting him in charge of Israel’s domestic police and border police in the occupied West Bank, home to roughly three million Palestinians.

Over the course of decades, and especially since the erection of the wall along the West Bank, Israelis seem to have become immune to how Palestinians live under Israeli military rule and what it is to be Palestinian in Israel. Conversations with neighbors in Haifa about the nakba — or “catastrophe,” in which hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or were expelled with the creation of Israel in 1948 — or Israel’s military occupation that amounts to apartheid or even racism in Israel are always met with denial or with justification, so we have learned never to speak to one another.

On Dec. 1, Mr. Netanyahu inked a coalition agreement with Bezalel Smotrich, another settler and head of the Religious Zionism party, naming him minister of finance and giving him control over a Defense Ministry department. Mr. Smotrich has called himself a “proud homophobe” and has said that the 2015 firebombing of a Palestinian home in the West Bank by suspected Jewish militants in which an 18-month-old child and his parents were burned to death was not a terrorist attack. In 2016, he said that he was in favor of segregation between Jewish and Palestinian women in Israeli hospital maternity wards.

Last year, Mr. Smotrich mentioned that David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, didn’t “finish the job” of expelling Palestinians in 1948. He has also promoted a subjugation plan in which Palestinians (who accept the plan) would be considered “resident aliens” while those who do not would be dealt with by the Israeli Army. As part of his Defense Ministry post, Mr. Smotrich will have unprecedented authority over the policy on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and over Palestinian construction, and will be able to appoint the heads of the administration responsible for the government’s civil policy in the West Bank.

Both the Jewish Power and the Religious Zionism party platforms are almost exclusively focused on Palestinians and about ensuring that Jewish supremacy reigns. The Religious Zionism party aims to retroactively legitimize settlements in the West Bank.

I fear that Israel’s violent repression of Palestinians will only increase in the near future as I consider the record of Mr. Netanyahu and his previous coalitions — a history of relentless race-baiting and incitement of prejudice against Palestinians in Israel, the passage of the Jewish Nation-State law (which enshrines the privileging of Jewish citizens), the open fire policy, Israel’s policy of destroying Palestinian homes, its continued colonization of the West Bank and repeated mass bombings of Gaza.

With Mr. Ben-Gvir, Mr. Smotrich and other extremists in his coalition, Mr. Netanyahu will very likely continue in this path, particularly since he has been the enabler of so many of these policies. Jewish Power and Religious Zionism are natural extensions of Mr. Netanyahu’s policies. Failing to recognize this is akin to putting one’s head in the sand.

If there is any silver lining to our grim situation it might be that the rise of Mr. Ben-Gvir and his fellow extremists will open the eyes of more Americans. Some former State Department officials and diplomats have already called upon the Biden administration not to deal with the most extreme members of the new Israeli coalition. American Jewish groups have also expressed alarm at the new coalition. But American policy is unlikely to change in response to these dark tidings. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken of “equal measures of freedom, security, opportunity, justice and dignity” for Israelis and Palestinians, but what guarantees will he be offering to ensure that Palestinians live in freedom and security with this new government?

As Israel lurched further to the right, the United States and other Western governments continued to normalize and legitimize extremists once deemed beyond the pale — from the notorious former general Ariel Sharon, when he became prime minister, to the race-baiting ultranationalist and settler Avigdor Lieberman when Mr. Netanyahu, during his second run as prime minister, made him a cabinet minister in 2009.

At the time, the appointment of Mr. Lieberman — who had called for loyalty oaths for Israel’s Palestinian and Jewish citizens and a redrawing of borders that would strip Palestinians of their Israeli citizenship — was widely criticized. But soon enough American and European officials were meeting with Mr. Leiberman.

There is little hope that this won’t happen this time, too, and what was unthinkable but a few years ago will become a reality, with Palestinians inevitably paying the heaviest price for Israel’s electoral choices.

Diana Buttu is a lawyer and former adviser to the negotiating team of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

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Article source: New York Times, 13/12/2022

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