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Tag Archives: jewish
By Marty Friedlander | Feb.13,2013 | 10:02 AM
You won’t find the South Hebron Hills highlighted in any travel guide or advertised by the Tourism Ministry. This area is not even technically part of Israel, though Israelis are free to travel there and a few thousand have settled there. If you are interested in going beyond the headlines and getting a taste of the reality on the ground that virtually no tourists and few Israelis ever see, you can visit the Palestinian communities of the South Hebron Hills.
Located just an hour and a half south of Jerusalem, at the bottom tip of the West Bank, the South Hebron Hills are designated as Area C part of the roughly 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli sovereignty.
A drive down Route 60 from the Gilo checkpoint will take you on a winding road where the incongruent desert landscape becomes immediately evident. Settlements like Carmel, Ma’on and Otniel speckle the hills amid rural communities like Susya, Jinba and Umm el Heir, where Palestinian shepherds and farmers live in tents and tin shacks.
Some Israelis may have heard of the area, where the settlement of Susya arose in 1983, because of the national archaeological site in Jewish Susya established in 1986 after ruins of a synagogue were discovered. (A number of Palestinian families were expelled then to make way for the site and there are eight villages in the area currently under threat of demolition.)
While the area is beautiful and expansive, few visitors go there because it is a flashpoint in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Yet it is one of the most informative and important areas for those seeking to gain an understanding of Israeli occupation and the acrimonious dynamic between settlers, soldiers and Palestinians.
If you would like a guided tour, one option is to go there with Breaking the Silence, an organization of veteran IDF combatants who talk about their experiences serving in the West Bank during the Second Intifada. Tours are offered in English around once a month and dates are listed on their website. They usually depart from International Convention Center (Binyanei Hauma), across from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.
If you are looking to go beyond information and engage in direct action, join the weekly trips that leave from Jerusalem with a political group called Taayush, active in the South Hebron Hills for over a decade. Bear in mind that such a trip may also include tense confrontations between Palestinians, settlers and soldiers.
Every Saturday for over a decade, a small group of Israelis meets with Palestinian residents and accompanies them to their lands in support of their daily humanitarian needs like grazing and farming. Through their presence and documentation, they try to prevent skirmishes by settlers and soldiers. For example, thanks in part to Taayush activists documentation and legal work, the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that soldiers cannot issue closed military zone orders and evacuate Palestinians from an area because settlers have provoked a confrontation rather they must do everything possible to enable the agricultural work to continue unabated.
Israel legalises four West Bank settlements days before arrival of John Kerry on peace mission – Video
Israel legalises four West Bank settlements days before arrival of John Kerry on peace mission
Israel has announced plans to legalise four more Jewish settlements in the West Bank just days before US Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to visit …
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Sporadic violence erupts across the West Bank and in East Jerusalem as Palestinians mark 65 years since displacement.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians marked the 65th anniversary of their mass displacement during the war over Israel’s 1948 creation, marching in the streets and in some parts of the West Bank clashing with Israeli security forces.
Every May 15, Palestinians hold rallies to commemorate the “nakba,” or “catastrophe” – the term they use to describe the displacement, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes during the fighting. The dispute over the fate of those Palestinians and their descendants, now numbering several million people, remains at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Israel views the Palestinians’ return as demographic suicide and expects the displaced and their descendants to be taken in by a future Palestinian state. But intermittent Israeli-Palestinian attempts to agree on the terms of such a state have so far failed.
Across the West Bank today, sirens wailed at noon for 65 seconds to commemorate the 65 years since the “nakba.” Thousands marched in Ramallah from the grave of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to the city center. Many wore black in a sign of mourning, holding Palestinian flags and large keys symbolizing the homes they left behind.
“The right of return will not die,” chanted the protesters. Schools closed at midday and parents brought their children to the demonstration.
In Ramallah, 38-year-old Manwal Awad brought her 11-year-old twins to the protest. “Every year I bring them with me to inherit the story of our nakba, and to keep the dream of return,” she said.
Rallies were elsewhere in the West Bank as well, and in several places demonstrators throwing rocks clashed with Israeli security forces, who responded with tear gas, Israel’s military said. Near the volatile city of Hebron, a fire bomb hit at an Israeli military vehicle, causing it to overturn and injuring four soldiers, the military said.
In east Jerusalem, Israeli police used water cannon and officers on horseback to disperse an “illegal march,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Fourteen protesters were arrested, as was a Palestinian suspected of attacking a Jewish man as he walked near the Old City, he said.
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Protesters and Israeli forces clashed in the West Bank on Wednesday as thousands of Palestinians commemorated the Nakba (catastrophe) of the Jewish state’s creation in 1948, during which 760,000 Palestinians fled their homes.
Soldiers fired rubber bullets at protesters gathered in front of Ofer military prison near Ramallah, wounding 15 of them, Palestinian medical officials said.
Demonstrators pelted soldiers with stones, the army said.
In east Jerusalem, police clashed with demonstrators outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate, police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP
Protesters threw stones at police, injuring three of them, while security forces responded with stun grenades, water hoses and horses to disperse the demonstrators, she said.
Clashes subsided by Wednesday night, with 27 Palestinians arrested, Samri added, eight of them for attacking Jews in and near Jerusalem’s Old City.
Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to demonstrate on Nakba Day and assert their “right to return” to where their ancestors fled after the Israeli victory over Arab armies.
Protesters held aloft Palestinian flags and replicas of the keys to the houses their families abandoned in 1948.
Some 1,000 people turned out in the northern West Bank town of Nablus, and another 300 in southern Hebron.
Palestinians threw a petrol bomb at an army jeep near Hebron, burning the vehicle out completely and wounding four soldiers inside it, an army spokeswoman told AFP.
GAZA The fractious factions in the Gaza Strip and across the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories have found one voice to unite behind – a 22-year-old youth singing songs about a lost homeland on the Middle East’s version of ‘American Idol’. Gaza native Mohammed Assaf has become the first Palestinian to qualify for ‘Arab Idol’, a TV talent show staged in Beirut, in which singers perform for judges and voting viewers. He is now one of the last 10 contestants – largely thanks to his potent mix of good looks and emotional lyrics about ancestral Palestinian lands. He is the pride of Palestine. He broke the siege with his voice,” said fan Rehaf al-Batniji, referring to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, seized by the Jewish state, along with the West Bank, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. She stood in front of a large mural of Assaf at a Gaza restaurant, one of hundreds of posters covering buildings and walls usually marked with political slogans. Assaf’s songs blare out of radios – a counter-balance to their usual broadcasts of bleak economic and political news. Politicians have raced to endorse him and Palestinian mobile phone company Jawwal has cut the price of text messages to make it easier for supporters to vote. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, from the Fatah movement that holds sway in the West Bank, phoned the singer in Beirut and urged all Arabs to vote for him. The president stressed his support and backing to artist Assaf, whose talent represented pride to Palestine,” said a statement by the Palestinian official news agency WAFA. The Gaza Strip is ruled by the rival Islamist Hamas faction – a group that disapproves of non-Islamic songs and the kind of Western-style excess on full display in TV talent shows. But even Hamas has come as close as it possibly can to showing support. He comes from a good, respected and known family,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said on Facebook. Assaf first made his name inside Gaza at the age of 11, when he recorded a song in 2001 called O Town be Strong”, at the height of Israeli incursions in the enclave during a Palestinian uprising. On Arab Idol, broadcast by Saudi-owned MBC Group, he has performed with a traditional black-and-white Palestinian scarf around his shoulders. His performances have included Flying Bird” which lists the cities of historical Palestine and another song urging Palestinians to unite. The program’s celebrity judges from across the Arab world – where the Palestinian cause reverberates – have piled praise on the singer. I see the Arab idol standing before my eyes,” said Egyptian composer Hassan El Shafei. Your voice is made of diamond,” added Ahlam, a famous singer from the United Arab Emirates. Listening in was Assaf’s mother, Umm Shadi Assaf, watching the show in a restaurant near her home in Gaza’s Khan Younis refugee camp. Her son had only one wish, she told Reuters, beaming with pride, to go out and make the world listen to his voice”.
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West Bank settlement building reportedly frozen as Peace Process gesture of goodwill
Reports claim that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has initiated an unofficial freeze of West Bank Jewish settlement construction in response to US…
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Palestinians report growing indications of oil in the occupied West Bank, which Israel may be quietly exploiting.
RAMALLAH, West Bank, May 8 (UPI) — Palestinians report growing indications of oil in the occupied West Bank, which Israel may be quietly exploiting even as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu resists U.S. pressure to freeze Jewish settlement expansion in the territory.
Givot Olam Oil Exploration of Jerusalem disclosed some years ago it had made a commercial find estimated at 980 million barrels at its Meged field in eastern Israel right on the so-called Green Line that demarcates the West Bank.
The geological strata at Meged appear to run eastward into Palestinian territory around the village of Rantis.
Meged-5, part of the 62,500-acre exploratory block the government leased to Givot Olam for 30 years in April 2004, has reserves estimated at 1.5 billion barrels.
That’s not a major strike in the general scheme of things but it would have an immense impact on Palestinians’ aspiration for statehood and the West Bank’s shaky, Israel-dependent economy that’s based on agriculture.
Even modest oil and natural gas reserves would transform Palestinian economic prospects and greatly enhance the viability of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, which Israel seized from Jordan control in the 1857 Middle East War.
Israel says little about its onshore oil program. This is supposedly restricted to pre-1967 Israeli territory, not the West Bank, which Palestinians see as the independent state to which they aspire.
The West Bank’s been heavily colonized by Jewish settlements since 1967.
The 450,000 settlers, backed by powerful right-wing political forces, have vowed to resist if the territory is handed back to Palestinians under a long-elusive peace agreement.
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Christians face persecution in Israel and West Bank
Ready-to-air story Persecution of Christians is on the rise in the holy land as Jewish and Muslim extremists resort to violence and intimidation.