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This Palestinian Protester Wasn’t Endangering Anyone. Israeli Police Shot Him Dead

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The video clip: A group of about a dozen young people wearing black hoodies is scattered in the street, most of them sheltering behind a charred dumpster on which they have placed an improvised launcher for firecrackers. Bright flashing lights and the sounds of explosives. Three more young men stand on the side, throwing stones. At a distance, and out of the frame, is another group of young people of around the same age – Border Police officers, about 10 in number, armed and armored from head to toe. They are shooting live rounds at the first group; the gunfire can be heard.

Amer Aruri, a field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, has measured the distance between the police officers and the young Palestinians: 90 meters. No firecrackers hit the officers, nor did any rocks, he says. According to Aruri’s investigation, the young men shot off 14 firecrackers and the officers fired seven live rounds at them. Firecrackers versus bullets – that’s the whole story.

It was just hours after the massacre in Jenin, on January 26, during which nine Palestinians, including a 60-year-old woman, were killed by Israeli security forces, and the entire West Bank had erupted in turmoil. Young people from A-Ram, located between Jerusalem and Ramallah, also came out to protest, at the entrance to their town. They dragged the dumpster into place, using it as a barricade, near a store called the Kingdom of Smoking.

A unit of the Border Police, which had been dispatched from a nearby base, stood facing them, dozens of meters away, and opened fire: first with tear gas and rubber-tipped bullets and then live rounds. Suddenly one of the rock throwers collapsed near the dumpster, apparently hit in the abdomen by an officer’s bullet. The group retreated, carrying the wounded man to a car parked nearby. Then a second person fell to the ground. Yousef Muhaisen. Screaming, the group rushed to pick him up too and carried him to the same car, which sped away.

Muhaisen succumbed to his injuries; the other man was still being treated at the Palestinian government hospital in Ramallah, as of earlier this week.

A-Ram is one of the locales that suffered the most from the construction of the cursed separation barrier, which began some 20 years ago. The huge cement wall slashed the town in two, leaving part of it in Jerusalem and the rest in the West Bank. Even the town’s main street was bisected. The result: From a Jerusalem suburb, A-Ram has become a slum whose wretchedness cries out to the heavens from every corner. From the top of the small mountain on which it is planted, one can see part of the separation barrier snaking along in the valley below. One particularly bizarre sight is that of an abandoned dwelling next to the wall that has become a haunted house – abandoned like the entire steep, spectacular valley where people once hiked. No one dares to approach now.

The road to the Muhaisen family’s home is paved with piles of trash whipped up by the cold wind that pummeled the area earlier this week when we visited. But the entrance to the neglected house at the edge of town is quite astonishing: It leads straight into a long, narrow living room, whose walls and ceiling are all wrapped in crimson fabric with a striped design, which matches the reddish upholstery on the couches.

In the darkness of the room a space heater spreads its meager warmth. Yahya Muhaisen, 56, the bereaved father, is barefoot. The descendant of refugees from the village of Iraq al-Manshiyya, which is today Kiryat Gat, he grew up in the Al Arroub refugee camp and moved to A-Ram 28 years ago. He and his wife, Manal, 46, also from Al Arroub, have three surviving sons and one daughter. Yousef was their second youngest child.

For years Yahya held down two jobs in Jerusalem, working as a guard at the Old City’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and at Makassed Hospital, until about eight years ago when he was denied an entry permit to Israel – ostensibly for security reasons that were never explicitly explained to him, he says. The Waqf, the Muslim religious trust that oversees holy sites in Jerusalem, and people at Makassed found alternative jobs for Yahya in A-Ram, guarding a college and the hospital’s outpatient clinic, but his life is no longer what it used to be. Even now, when he is unwell and supposed to undergo a cardiac bypass, Israel will not permit him to go to the hospital where he worked for years, the only place where his health insurance will cover the surgery.

Yousef, who was killed two days before his 23rd birthday, had worked at a sandwich restaurant in town, delivering food on a motor scooter. Although he had successfully completed his high school matriculation exams, he refused to continue studying. In recent years he did everything to find a wife, for whom he intended to build a home on the roof of his family’s house. Yahya says he already had a “candidate,” but work on the home had not yet begun.

Recently, when there were demonstrations in town, Yousef would join in, like all the young locals. That was also the case on that Thursday a few weeks ago. Yousef went to work in the morning and then discovered that a general strike had been called in A-Ram to protest the killings in Jenin. He returned home, showered, changed and left home again, without saying where he was going. Soon afterward, his father went out to withdraw money at the l bank and met his son on the street. He tells us that he tried to persuade him to come home to eat, but Yousef refused. Yahya thinks he may have gone to the restaurant, which was closed, to prepare food for the next day, and may even have tried to make it home, but starting at noon the Border Police arrived and Yousef would have had difficulty getting home.

One way or another, his parents will never see their son again.

The young man smiling in the pictures in the tiny memorial corner at one end of the family’s crimson living room had joined the young men throwing rocks and firecrackers at the officers who invaded their town. It was around 3 P.M. About an hour earlier, his father began calling his cellphone, to no avail; the device was turned off. He called friends of his son, but they didn’t know where Yousef was. Yahya began to worry. He knew there were clashes at the entrance to town.

After a while, Yousef’s younger brother, Abdel Rahman, 17, came home and asked their father for the keys to the family’s small car. The youth had heard rumors that his brother had been injured, but did not tell their father. Yahya recalls that Abdel Rahman paced anxiously around the house and didn’t utter a word. Yahya became more concerned, sensing a disaster. Then he noticed, thanks to the security cameras mounted outside the house, that his two other sons, Ibrahim, 26, and Mohammed, 24 – who usually work at an aluminum factory in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone outside Jerusalem – were walking to and fro outside, talking excitedly on their cellphones before quickly dashing off somewhere.

By then it was 4:30 P.M. and Yahya asked himself: Why were they running? What happened? There was no longer any doubt in his heart that something terrible had happened to Yousef. Yahya, Manal and Yahya’s brother-in-law rushed off in the latter’s car toward the government hospital in Ramallah. Traffic was slow. They arrived at 5:30, where doctors in the ICU were trying desperately to revive his son. Yahya told them: “Let him be. He’s dead. Give me his body.”

Yousef was declared dead at 6 P.M. A bullet had entered his right side and exited from the abdomen, injuring several organs along the way.

The parents left their son’s body in the hospital overnight, in order to notify relatives living in distant places in the West Bank and give them time to get to the funeral. Yousef was buried the following day, on January 27, in A-Ram’s cemetery.

Yahya tells us that one eyewitness told him he had seen a female Border Police officer kneel down and open fire at Yousef and his friends.

Asked this week why the officers used live ammunition when their lives were apparently not in danger, the Border Police spokesperson’s unit sent Haaretz the same announcement it issued on the day of the incident: “Following violent disturbances and riots that included the throwing of firebombs and launching of firecrackers at the forces in an effort to hurt them … the Border Police strived to engage, with the aim of detaining the suspects. At one point, a Border Police officer who felt his life was in danger due to the direct firing of the firecrackers and a firebomb from a range of a few meters, carried out precise fire at the two suspects and neutralized them. The two assailants were moderately wounded and were evacuated for medical treatment.”

That account, it must be said, is not supported either by the video clip taken by a bystander who documented the shooting of the young men, or by the testimonies collected by Aruri of B’Tselem. Nor was Yousef “moderately” wounded.

Back at home, the bereaved father continues to talk about his son: His friends called him Chik Chak – Hebrew slang, meaning “very quickly” – because he always rushed around. On Facebook after his death, their post read: “We lost Chik Chak. Chik Chak is dead.” Indeed, Yousef lived chik chak, and died chik chak.

Article link:
Article source: Haaretz | Gideon Levy and Alex Levac | Feb 11, 2023

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No change on Jerusalem recognition, says Penny Wong

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Foreign Minister Penny Wong has denied Labor has dropped recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel instead of Tel Aviv after the DFAT website deleted sentences relating to the previous Coalition government’s policy.

Scott Morrison formally recognised West Jerusalem in ­December 2018, despite holding off relocation of the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv.

Labor made clear at the time it did not support recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state after the former prime minister made Australia one of the few countries to do so.

It followed a decision by then-US president Donald Trump to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Despite Labor’s opposition to the move, the website for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until a few days ago, when it quietly deleted relevant sentences regarding that policy. The sentences said: “Consistent with this longstanding policy, in December 2018 Australia recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of the Israeli government.

“Australia looks forward to moving its embassy to West Jerusalem when practical, in support of and after the final status determination of, a two-state solution.”

A spokeswoman for Senator Wong said the government had not made any decision on changing official recognition of Israel’s capital.

“The former government made the decision to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the Foreign Minister said.

“No decision to change that has been made by the ­government.”

A spokesman for Mr Morrison said the shift on the capital of Israel was “dis­appointing and represents a further diminution in Australia’s support for the state of Israel by the Labor government from the high water mark ­established by the Morrison ­government”.

The 2021 Australian Labor Party national platform said Labor supported “an enduring and just two-state solution to the ­Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, but also explicitly called on the Labor government to “recognise Palestine as a state”.

Israel has come under fire in recent months from the international community for its “illegal settlements”, which refers to neighbourhoods being built in contested territories, and concerns around the treatment of ­Palestinians. Australia has raised human rights concerns.

Israel and Jewish organisations in Australia have raised issue with the language surrounding the conflict, which they warn is becoming increasingly anti-Semitic.

DFAT makes note on its website that Australia is “strongly ­opposed to unfair targeting of ­Israel in the UN and other multilateral institutions … however, we make clear our concerns about Israeli actions that undermine the prospects of a two-state solution and continue to urge Israel and other actors to respect international law.”

Australia was the first country to vote in favour of the 1947 UN partition resolution, which ultimately led to the creation of Israel as a nation state.

Canberra established diplomatic relations with Israel two years later and presided over the vote admitting Israel to the UN.

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Article source: The Australian | Sarah Ison | October 18, 2022

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Labor reverses decision to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel capital

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Labor reverses decision to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel capital

ABC, 18/10/2022

By foreign affairs reporter Stephen Dziedzic

Posted 18h ago18 hours ago, updated 12h ago12 hours ago

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Duration: 1 minute 15 seconds1m 15s

Israel’s government has criticised Australia’s decision to withdraw recognition of West Jerusalem as the country’s capital, summoning Australia’s ambassador to lodge a complaint and suggesting the federal government’s announcement was rushed and unprofessional.

Key points:

  • Labor had vowed, if elected, to reverse recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital
  • The decision to recognise West Jerusalem was made by Scott Morrison in 2018
  • Foreign Minister Penny Wong says the 2018 decision was “cynical” and “political”

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said on Tuesday morning that the government would reverse the former Coalition government’s decision to recognise West Jerusalem, calling it a “cynical” ploy to win electoral support.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had already deleted references to the Morrison Government’s decision online, although Cabinet only made a formal decision on the issue on Tuesday morning.

Several media outlets reported on the change on Monday night, forcing the federal government to clarify that no decision had yet been made.

The Prime Minister of Israel, Yair Lapid, criticised the move in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“In light of the way in which this decision was made, as a hasty response to an incorrect report in the media, we can only hope that the Australian government manages other matters more seriously and professionally,” he said.

“Jerusalem is the eternal and united capital of Israel and nothing will ever change that.

Senator Wong, speaking after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, said Australia remained a steadfast friend of Israel, and an unwavering supporter of the Palestinian people.

“Today, the government has reaffirmed Australia’s previous and long-standing position that Jerusalem is a final status issue, a final status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people,” she said.

“Australia’s embassy has always been, and remains, in Tel Aviv.”

In late 2018, the then-Morrison government moved to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, following the former Trump Administration’s decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem.

Senator Wong accused Scott Morrison of playing politics over the decision.

“I think we all know when we saw some of it publicly that the 2018 decision put Australia out of step with the majority of the international community,” she said.

“It was received with great concern by members of the international community.

“You know what this was? This was a cynical, unsuccessful, play to win the seat of Wentworth and a by-election.”

Mr Morrison denied at the time that the decision was aimed at winning over Jewish voters in the seat, which the government ultimately lost to independent Kerryn Phelps.

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Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has left the door open to what city Australia should recognise as the capital of Israel.

“We took a policy to the last election. We will make an announcement about our policy in the run-up to the next election,” he said.

“Penny Wong is looking for a distraction away from what, I think, increasingly is looking like a budget that doesn’t have a plan that they promised for cost-of-living pressures that families are facing now.”

Shadow Attorney-General Julian Leeser described the decision as “shambolic”.

“In the Jewish press before the election, Mark Dreyfus and Josh Burns said there was no difference between the Morrison government’s policy on Israel and the Albanese opposition,” he said.

“This shows that this is just not true. West Jerusalem has been a part of Israel since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

“The parliament is there, the supreme court is there, the PM lives there, the president lives there. It looks like the capital of Israel to me, I don’t know what it is the Labor party can’t see”.

Labor had long vowed to reverse the move if elected to office and, in recent days, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), without fanfare, deleted online references to the decision.

“The updating of the website occurred ahead of government processes. That happens sometimes,” Senator Wong said.

“I am not going to blame anybody for that. That happens. That is why I am also here, today, making sure we are clear about our position and I want to make sure that the website did reflect the position I articulated.”

Indonesia’s government — which criticised the Morrison government’s decision in 2018 — issued a statement through its foreign ministry praising the move.

“Indonesia welcomes the decision by Australia under PM Albanese to reverse the recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” it said.

“This policy would hopefully contribute positively to Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations.

“Indonesia appreciates Australia’s reaffirmation of its commitment to support a peaceful resolution to the conflict based on a two-state solution, within internationally recognised borders.”

But the Director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Dr Colin Rubenstein slammed the move, saying it was “frankly bizarre” to “withdraw recognition of Israel’s right to choose its own capital on its own sovereign territory.”

“This decision by the Government is not only deeply disappointing, but appears a pointless own goal, undermining the Government’s self-declared policy of seeking to encourage a negotiated two-state Israeli-Palestinian peace,” he said.

“The reversal also risks denting Australia’s credibility with some of our closest allies.”

Article link:
Article source: ABC (Australian), 18/10/2022

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

Libs to make Jerusalem election issue

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The federal coalition will take the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to the next election.

The Labor government reversed a 2018 decision by then prime minister Scott Morrison to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move Australia’s embassy.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said the decision broke from decades of bipartisanship to have the issue resolved by Israel and Palestine.

Both Israel and Palestine claim Jerusalem as their capital.

She accused Mr Morrison of using the issue as a political football to win votes.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham told AAP the coalition’s position had not changed.

“It remains the coalition’s view that West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” he said.

“It functions as the capital for the Israeli government in all purposes.

“So long as it remains Israel’s choice, their functional capital going forward, that will be the view we take into the next election and into government if we are re-elected.”

But he maintained the final boundaries for Israel and Palestine and the status of East Jerusalem were to be negotiated by the two parties.

The coalition expressed anger at the reversal and how it had been handled by the government, with it being announced on a Jewish holiday and catching the Israeli government off guard.

But when asked why West Jerusalem should be Israel’s recognised capital in light of the reversal, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said: “We took a policy to the last election, we will make an announcement about our policy in the run-up to the next election.”

Senator Birmingham said a Liberal-National government would handle the matter more sensitively and consult with all parties if elected.

by Dominic Giannini

Australian Associated Press

Article link:
Article source: Canberra Times

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

Israel set to summon Aust Ambassador over recognition of nation’s capital

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Israel set to summon Aust Ambassador over recognition of nation’s capital

(Herald-Sun, 19/10/2022)


Israel will summon Australia’s Ambassador to explain the federal government’s decision to reverse its recognition of West Jerusalem as the country’s capital.

Israel’s embassy in Canberra was blindsided by the move, which prompted an angry response from Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who called into question Australia’s treatment of a close ally.

Article link:
Article source: Herald-Sun, 19/10/2022

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