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Newsletter 36 web[1]

  1. 1. In the 6 days from 27 February to 3 March, 106 Palestinians were killed. At least half of those killed were civilians, 25 of whom were children including 6 month old Muhammad al-Bur’i killed in his own home by shrapnel from Israeli shelling. On 28th February, a group of six children were targeted by an Israeli missile while they played football. Four were killed –Ali Dardona (8), Muhammad Hamudah (9), Dardona Dardona (12) and Omer Dardona. The remaining two children survived but were horrifically wounded, with the flesh burnt off their legs and hands, and the image of the decapitatedbodiedandsevered limbs of the other children etched in their minds. Israel’s Chief of Staff claimed that at least 90% of those killed took park in the fighting, however, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem investigated and concluded that this was not the case and expressed grave concern at the large number of children and other uninvolved civilians among those killed and wounded. Israel has justified its military strikes and the closure of Gaza as being a response to rocket attacks against Israeli towns bordering Gaza. Between May 2007 and 3 March 2008, two Israelis were killed by these rockets. Yet Israel is seeking to use this to justify the killing of hundreds of Palestinians and the enforcement of an inhumane embargo which cuts off Gaza’s 1.5 million people from the outside world. Israel has greatly reduced the amount of fuel, electricity and essential medicines being supplied to Gaza. Thishascreatedahumanitarian catastrophe. Over 90 medical patients died over a 6 moth period as they were prevented from receiving treatment for treatable illnesses. Many more face harsh living conditions which make normal life impossible. Israeli leaders have said that Gazans will not be allowed to live normal lives until the rocket attacks stop. The people of Gaza on the other hand, have had neither security nor peace for the past 40 years. The occupation of Gaza began a long time before the rocket attacks did, and the occupation is the reason for all Palestinian resistance. The siege on Gaza and Israel’s military raids were condemned bytheinternationalcommunity, and UK based human rights groups said the situation has not been this low in the 40 years of occupation. Amnesty International’s UK Director Kate Allen said, “Punishing the entire Gazan population by denying them these basic human rights is utterly indefensible.” UK Foreign Secretary David Milliband angered many human rights organisations by failing to condemn Israel’s collective punishment of Gaza and the killing of over 100 Gazans in a period of 6 days, and instead he chose to condemn the rocket attacks as acts of terrorism. UCL votes to twin with Palestinian Universities Crater appears in Al-Aqsa Compound US engineered Palestinian civil war AqsaN E W S Quarterly Issue 36 April 2008 For Free Distribution Israel exploiting Jerusalem deaths Holocaust in Gaza Between 1 January and 5 March 2008, Israel killed 238 Palestinians through direct military assaults on Gaza and the West Bank. 37 of those killed were children.
  2. 2. A document which was leaked to the US magazine Vanity Fair and the UK newspaper the Guardian revealed that the Bush administration engineered a civil war in Gaza in a bid to oust the Hamas led government after its election victory in January 2006. President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams, all approved a plan to pressurise Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to remove the Hamas authorities in Gaza. The original plan was to provide Fatah ‘security’ forces with arms, ammunition and training so that they could effectively challenge Hamas. They used Muhammad Dahlan, a Fatah supporter, as a front to sew seeds of dissention and attempt to weaken Hamas by fuelling conflict between Fatah and Hamas security personnel. The US offered over $80 million to fund Fatah security personnel and claimed this was to “dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and establish law and order in the West Bank and Gaza.” The money never came, as the payment was blocked by the U.S House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia as its members feared that military aid to the Palestinians might end up being turned against Israel. However, the US then called on its allies in the region and tried to persuade Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to offer training and funding to the Fatah fighters. Egypt was one of the states that complied and sent weapons to the Fatah faction in Gaza and trained up Fatah fighters. Towards the end of 2006, Egypt sent 2,000 automatic rifles, 20,000 ammunition clips, and two million bullets to Fatah in Gaza. Despite this, Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas formed a Unity Government, in March 2007. However, this was dissolved when Hamas took over control of Gaza in June 2007 after the US sponsored Fatah violence and Hamas response escalated out of control. Following the Hamas takeover, David Wurmser, a former Middle East adviser to the vice-president, Dick Cheney said “It looks to me that what happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen.” He accused the Bush administration of “engaging in a dirty war in an effort to provide a corrupt dictatorship [led by Abbas] with victory.” Crucially, he believed that Hamas had no intention of taking over control of the Gaza Strip until Fatah forced its hand. I N B R I E F 2 US continues increasing military aid to Israel Despite Israel’s continuing collective punishment against Palestinians, and the rocketing number of Palestinian deaths, the US continues to increase its military aid to Israel. In his proposed 2009 budget, PresidentBushhasrequested$2.55billionin military aid for Israel. This is a 9% increase above and beyond Israel’s actual military spending in 2007. The budget request is the first instalment of a ten-year Memorandum of Understanding signed between the United States and Israel in August 2007 to increase military aid by 25% over the next decade, totalling $30 billion. This military aid is in fact sustaining Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and creating greater misery for Palestinians. Fatah and Hamas United again in the struggle Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip was heart- breaking for the Palestinian people, but one positive outcome is that after months of inter-factional animosity, Hamas and Fatah supporters have once again become united against the Israeli occupation of their homeland Israel to demolish 700 year old mosque TheAl-OmarimosqueinthevillageofUmm Tuba near Jerusalem is to be demolished by Israel. This mosque dates back 700 years and is the only mosque in Umm Tuba, but despite this Israel claimed it was built without a licence. Palestinians condemned this decision, claiming that Israeli authorities are attempting to wipe out historic Islamic sites in Palestine. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein called on the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which is charged with protecting human cultural heritage around the world, to prevent the demolition of the mosque. UK police refused to arrest Israeli General for fear of gun battle Israeli Major General Doron Almog faces a war crimes warrant of arrest in the UK. In September 2005, he flew into England but received a tip off about the impending arrest and refused to disembark from the plane. British police recently revealed that they refused to board the plane as they feared an armed gun-fight with his body guards. Palestinian war crimes campaigners had broughtthewarrantforaprivateprosecution following the General’s order for more than 50 homes to be destroyed in the Gaza Strip and the resultant loss of Palestinian life. Join Friends of Al-Aqsa Be a part of Friends of Al-Aqsa. Join our mailing list To receive updates and information about our events, log in your email at our website Leaked documents show US engineered Palestinian civil war UCL votes to twin with Palestinian Universities On the 5th March 2008, the University College London Students’ Union (UCLU) voted in favour of twinning with the Students’ Unions of Al-Quds and Al-Azhar Uni- versities in the West Bank and Gaza respectively. The Union also voted to establish an educational exchange programme between UCL students and students from the Palestinian universities, and finally “To reiterate the UCLU Friends of Palestine society’s right to raise issues that concern the student body, criticise the Government of Israel and its policies, as well as highlight atrocities that contravene International Humanitarian law” and be treated the same as other societies for doing so. Just prior to the meeting, what the Palestine Society termed as a ‘hostile’ amendment was received from UC- LU’s Jewish Society for the substitution of the Israeli He- brew University in Jerusalem in the place of Al-Azhar in Gaza. This was rejected. The vote was preceded by weeks of conflict between the Palestine Society and the Jewish Society, with the latter accusing the Palestine Society of ‘inciting racial hatred’ against Jews following an exhibition titled “Jerusalem Dispossessed” which documented “the dispossession of indigenous Palestinians from their native city, Jerusalem, amid rapid expansion of Israeli settlements, the separa- tion wall and home demolitions.” Evidence that Israel uses snipers in the Gaza Strip During Israel’s military offensive in Gaza at the end of February and beginning of March, many journalists reported that Israel was using snipers to target and kill civilians in Gaza. Papers such as the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph covered the story of 12 year old Safa, killed by a bullet to the chest while she was in a bedroom in her house about 4 metres from the window. Her father stated that an Israeli sniper shot her deliberately. She then bled to death after 4 hours as her family were prevented from leaving the house to get medical help. Many others were killed in their homes, including 16 and 17 year old brother and sister Eyad and Jacqueline who were sitting in their uncle’s living room when they were both shot. Neither of them was close to the window at the time and could only have been shot by sniper fire. Another Palestinian teenager said he was shot three times when he approached the Zimo Square area to see what was happening. The fact that children were being targeted makes the crime even more appalling. Israel’s 6 day military assault left over 30 children dead and their families in mourning. The Palestinian rocket attacks did not reduce during the military assault, rather, they intensified.
  3. 3. I N B R I E F 3 Palestinian prisoner dies in Israeli prison due to neglect 47 year old Fadel Ouda Atiya Shaheen from Gaza City was imprisoned in October 2004. He was detained by Israeli Occupation Forces in the Be’r al-Saba’ Prison. His health condition was poor and he was a diabetic in regular need of insulin injections. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported that there were indications that his health condition deteriorated and the administration of the prison failed to offer him appropriate medical treatment. He died on 29 February 2008. The PCHR has repeatedly received information about medical negligence and the failure of Israeli prison authorities to provide Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails with appropriate medical care. 7 Palestinian prisoners have died in Israeli prison since January 2007, 6 of whom suffered medical neglect. Israel military action intensified after Annapolis Conference Former Palestinian Information Minister Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi revealed that the rate of Israeli military attacks and the killing of Palestinians doubled following the Annapolis Conference in November 2007. In a meeting in Brussels, Dr Barghouthi presented data showing that Palestinian deaths caused by the Israeli Occupation Forces had increased 100% since the meeting, and he showed that the ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed in 2007 had risen to 40:1, up from 30:1 in 2006 and 4:1 from 2000-2005. “We do not want anyone to die, Israeli or Palestinian,” he said, “but this ratio is alarming. It is unacceptable to justify such large-scale killings under the pretext of security.” Israeli missile strike in Gaza destroys medical relief centre The building housing the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) was severely damaged by an Israeli air strike in February. The PMRS provides essential emergency health care to Palestinians. The building also housed the central pharmacy and a warehouse of equipment for handicapped and severely injured people, all of which were destroyed. Equipment such as wheelchairs, crutches and walkers are all essential to the population where thousands of people have been injured and maimed by Israeli attacks. PMRS stocks of such equipment were all destroyed. Due to the embargo which has been placed on Gaza, it is highly unlikely that these essential equipment and medicine will be replaced. Israel approves settlement growth Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has approved plans to build 750 new homes in an illegal settlement in the West Bank. This has angered many Palestinians as under the terms of the peace process, settlement expansion is supposed to be frozen. Israel has 500,000 Jewish Israelis living illegally in the West Bank. Israel exploiting Jerusalem deaths Medical patient dies after denied passage at checkpoint Crater appears in Al-Aqsa Compound No waste water treatment left The UN has reported that there is no longer any waste water treatment available in Gaza due to the continuing blockade and therefore raw sewage is being pumped into the sea. The UN information service, IRIN, has released a report detailing the environmental devastation faced by the population of Gaza due to the ongoing Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip. Gidon Bromberg from Friends of the Earth Middle East said “This is a disaster. This is a lot of sewage. It is a health issue, as people swim in the sea and it also affects drinking water as the pollutants could harm the ground water.” Until Israel lifts its sanctions against Gaza, there will not be enough fuel and electricity to treat the sewage in a safe way. Palestinian Volunteers attacked while renovating within Al-Aqsa Compound On 6 March 2008, Israeli border police troops attacked a group of Palestinian volunteers who were doing renovation and cleaning work inside the Al Aqsamosque.APalestinian NGO which was doing the renovation work stated that this was the third day on which the police had attacked the volunteers and that three volunteers had been kidnapped by the army while they were doing the renovation work. The soldiers were reported to have used batons and rifle butts to beat up some of the volunteers. 66 year old Fawziyeh a-Dark had a heart attack on 14 February 2008, but died after an ambulance was prevented from reaching her. Israeli soldiers had set up a surprise checkpoint close to the village of Deir al-Ghuson and prevented passage of the ambulance. She was forced to travel by taxi to the main checkpoint where the Red Crescent ambulance had arranged to meet her and her husband after passage was refused. However, the soldiers at the checkpoint refused to let her cross, even though she was in need of urgent medical treatment. Fawziyeh’s husband Mahmud Qab reported that he pleaded with the soldiers to let him take his wife to hospital but this was to no avail. The soldier’s response was “Let her die, let her die, it doesn’t interest me, it is forbidden to cross.” Mahmud said he begged the soldiers for fifteen minutes before realising they would not allow them to cross. “My begging didn’t make them feel an ounce of compassion.” They returned home, and Fawziyeh died a short while later. This case was recorded and reported by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. The tragic death of 8 Jewish religious students, who were killed in Jerusalem by a Palestinian gun-man on 6 March 2008, is reportedly being exploited by Israel to launch an aggressive campaign against Hamas, despite no clear links to the attack. Major Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the political echelons in Israel instructed the Government Press Office to distribute the shocking images from the yeshiva shooting worldwide, including pictures of holy books perforated with bullets, a blood-stained praying shawl and the gunman’s body inside the yeshiva to prove that Palestinians will stop at nothing to target innocent Israelis. Nothing was said of the hundreds of Palestinians who were killed prior to this revenge attack, which was the most likely cause of the shooting. On Friday 15 February 2008, Palestinian worshippers at the Al-Aqsa compound reported that part of the esplanade had collapsed leaving a 2 metre long and 1.5 meter wide crater in the ground. The collapse took place close to the Al-Silsila (Chain) Gate and Qatibai Water Fountain at the mosque’s western side. Palestinians have blamed Israel’s continuing tunnelling beneath the compound for this latest danger to its stability. Israel has been digging beneath Al-Aqsa since the 1980’s. When the tunnels were first discovered, they sparked international condemnation. However, Israel only halted digging temporarily on a number of occasions but always resumed. There now exists a network of tunnels beneath the Al-Aqsa compound accessible only to Israeli Jews. These tunnels have severely compromised the structural integrity of the buildings within the Al-Aqsa Compound. In February 2004, part of a road leading to one of the mosque’s main gates collapsed due to Israeli digging. A crack also appeared in one of the walls within the al-Aqsa mosque building suggesting that its foundations are no longer stable. Experts have warned that even slight earth tremors could lead to a collapse of the buildings within the Al-Aqsa Compound.
  4. 4. 4 Message from Friends of Al-Aqsa Leaflets Name: Address: Postcode: I enclose a cheque for £ (make cheques payable to ‘Friends of Al-aqsa’) Books Forty Ahadith Concerning Masjid Al-Aqsa Dome of the Rock Qubbat As Sakhra Palestine Beginners Guide Medina to Juresalem - Encounter with the Byzantine Empire A History of Palestinian Resistance Virtues of Jerusalum ‘OFFER: All 4 books for Children Palestine Colouring Book Free Qty: Free Qty: £9.95 Qty: £5.95 Qty: £5.95 Qty: £5.95 Qty: FREE Qty: £2.00 Qty: Merchandise FLAG LAPEL BADGE MASJID LAPEL BADGE AL-AQSA KEY RING PALESTINE WRIST BAND FRIDGE MAGNET 7 DVD SET SCARF (SQUARE) SCARF (LONG) PALESTINE FLAG T-SHIRTS £1.50 Qty: £1.50 Qty: £1.50 Qty: £1.00 Qty: £1.50 Qty: £20.00 Qty: £5.00 Qty: £3.00 Qty: £3.00 Qty: £5.00 Qty: Friends of Al-Aqsa, P.O.Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU, Tel: 07711 823 524, (0116) 2125441,Email:, Complete set of information leaflet on Palestine Issues A set of 20 information leaflets including the following... £20.00 Qty: TOTAL: Please add 10% of the total cost to cover postage expenses. L, XL and XXL only dark or light colour. Exact colours cannot be guaranteed. Book Co lo u r i ng PalestinePalestine Colouring Book Book Palestine Word-searches Colouring Crosswords Spot the difference And much more… Act ivi ty Palestine Activity Book £3.00 Qty: 6 month old Muhammad al-Buri killed by an Israeli missile strike. Narratives Under Siege The events of the past 3 months in Gaza have been shocking and deeply distressing. Many words have been spoken, but the voice which often goes unheard is that of the Palestinians on the ground. Israel prevents reports from emerging and tells a different story to the world. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has set up ‘Narratives under Siege’ on its web-site in order to allow Palestinians to tell their stories to the world so that the international community may finally understand their struggle against Israeli brutality. Below is the voice of one Palestinian – a voice and many more like it which Israel would prefer to keep silent. Abed Rabbo St, East Jabaliya “I heard shooting, then screaming. I rushed upstairs to see what had happened, and they were both on the floor. Jaqueline was already dead, but Iyad was still alive. The neighbours called an ambulance and we ran to the hospital with him, but he died as soon as we arrived.” East Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip bore the brunt of Israel’s latest military incursion into Gaza. The incursion, which was launched in the early hours of Thursday February 28, lasted four days and nights. In that time Israeli troops killed 108 Palestinians, including 54 unarmed civilians, 26 of whom were children. The Palestinians who live in and around Abed Rabbo Street in east Jabaliya suffered intense airstrikesbyF16planesandhelicopters, tank shelling, snipers, and having their houses invaded and vandalised by Israeli soldiers, who tied adults up with ropes, or else locked whole families into single rooms in order to use their homes as sniper towers to target local Palestinian fighters. Sixteen year old Jaqueline Abu Shebak and her fourteen year old brother, Iyad both lived on Abed Rabbo Street with their mother and three other young brothers and sisters. The children’s uncle, Hatem Hosni Abu shebak, who lives next door, found the bodies of Jaqueline and Iyad in the early hours of Saturday March 1st, when he rushed upstairs after hearing intense shooting and then screaming. “I hear shooting and Iyad was screaming.AsIranupstairstheshooting continued, and both children were on the living room floor “he says, as we sit in the blood-stained living room where Jaqueline died and Iyad was critically injured.  “I tried to revive them, but Jaqueline was dead, and even though Iyad was alive and making sounds we could not save him. We had to wait for an ambulance because my car had been shelled by an Israeli tank.” Hattim Abu Shebak shows us the mirrors and windows shattered by bullets, the bullet holes in the walls, and the children’s blood on the furniture.   The Israeli soldiers who killed Jaqueline and Iyad had occupied the house opposite, and were holding Ramez Etbail and his family hostage so they could use the house to shoot at local Hamas fighters. The Israelis fired straight through the kitchen window of the Abu- Shebak house, striking Jaqueline and Iyad who were both cowering in the corner. Their mother was in her own bedroom trying protecting her youngest child from the onslaught of bullets.             The children’s father, Mohammed Hosni Abu Shebak, works as a security guard in Ramallah, in the West Bank. He has been in Ramallah since Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. As soon as the Israeli military withdrew from northern Gaza, at around 6 am on Monday 3 March, people came out onto the streets of Jabaliya in order to start to bury their dead.As we drove through Jabaliya just hours later, funerals were being held in street after street.  Israel has described its incursion into Gaza as a “routine” military operation. However,theIsraelimilitary’sintentions were made clear prior to the incursion, when Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter stated that unlawful rocket fire by armed Palestinians must be stopped “Irrespective of the cost to the Palestinians.”
  5. 5. 5 Take Action! NO to Israel’s celebrations in Britain Supporters of the state of Israel are planning its 60th Birthday celebrations around the world. The Palestinians are also marking this day as the 60th anniversary of the Nakba – the catastrophe that cost them their homeland and made them refugees for 6 decades. The brutal occupation continues and every day, Palestinians continue to be killed by the Israeli army who shows little consideration for life and property.   Israel ’s planned celebrations include: 1.      A JNF funded charity dinner at Windsor Castle 2.      An international friendly football game against Manchester United, in Israel   Israel continues in its occupation of Palestinian land. Its building of illegal settlements means that a future Palestinian state is no longer viable. Israel has built a separation wall within the West Bank cutting many Palestinians off from Jerusalem , and imprisoning others on the Israeli side. The death toll continues to rise. Israel must to brought to justice for its War Crimes, and it’s ‘celebrations’ must be challenged. Israel is in breach of UN Resolutions, Geneva Conventions and International law.   TAKE ACTION Lobby the following people/organisations: Her Majesty, The Queen The Jewish National Fund is a racist organisation which owns land in the state of Israel, a lot of which it refuses to lease or sell to any non-Jews. This is both discriminatory and racist. The JNF also helps develop Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank, which exist today in defiance of international law. -         Write a letter to Her Majesty, The Queen, requesting that she withdraw permission to the JNF to use Windsor Castle to host its ‘celebratory dinner’. -         Include the following points: o       The JNF is a racist organisation which discriminates against Arabs and Palestinians. o       The JNF assists the state of Israel in committing War Crimes against the Palestinian people. o       It is unacceptable for the British Monarchy to support the state of Israel in its celebrations when the Palestinian have suffered for 60 long years, and continue to suffer daily, a life of oppression, occupation and brutality. We expect our Monarch to remain impartial in the circumstances. o       For these reason, we find it unacceptable that the JNF be given access to Windsor Castle Address: Her Majesty The Queen, Buckingham Palace, London, SW1A 1AA.   Manchester United Israel has issued an invitation to Manchester United Football club to play in an international friendly match in Israel to ‘celebrate’ its 60th anniversary. -         Lobby the Manchester United Football team, and ask them to refuse Israel’s invitation. Include the following points:o       Israel is an occupying power who has made the lives of the Palestinian people miserable for the past 60 years. o       Israel restricts the movement of Palestinians and has even barred the Palestinian football team from traveling abroad. o       Israel has bombed Gaza’s only football stadium. o       Israel ’s occupation is illegal, and it has been condemned by the United Nations on dozens of occasions because of its war crimes. o       Israel has been responsible for initiating at least three wars in the region leading to thousands of deaths. o       Israel is only a democracy for its Jewish citizens, and all others are treated in a discriminatory fashion, leading to criticisms of Apartheid like practices. o       Israel ’s 60th birthday marks 60 years since the Palestinian Nakba or catastrophe, and we cannot accept that a British football team would aid in the ‘celebration’ of the misery of 8 million Palestinians.   Address: Management, Manchester United, Sir Matt Busby Way, Old Trafford, Manchester, M16 0RA Email:     TAKE ACTION today, and remember to copy your emails/Letter to Friends of Al-Aqsa: info@ Madrid and London, 2007
  6. 6. Fun & Games C O M P E T I T I O N Win a £20 Argos voucher and a Friends of Al-Aqsa goody bag!!! 13 years old or under??? Draw a picture representing Palestine and send it to us. This can be of Masjid al-Aqsa or the Dome of the Rock, or of anything else that reminds you of Palestine. The picture should not be bigger than A4 size, and you can use any materials including paints and colouring pens. The best entry will win the prize. 14-18 years old??? Many Palestinian children are born in refugee camps and they live their whole lives there. Refugee camps are overcrowded and the houses are small and made of concrete blocks. In some homes, there is no natural light and residents must keep the lights on all day and all night. Imagine what your life would be like in a refugee camp. Write a short letter to us, telling us how you think your life would be like living in a refugee camp, and what things you would miss most from the possessions you have. Try to imagine being a Palestinian refugee when you are writing your answer. Visit this web-site which may help you: www.baqaacamp.blogspot. com The best and most thought provoking answer will win. Deadline for both competitions: 31st May 2008 Send your answers with your name, age and address to: Friends of Al-Aqsa, PO Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU. Or email us on Winners of the last competition: Sadia Hajat, age 12 from Blackburn. Sajida Ali, age 15 from Nuneaton. Order your copy of the Friends of Al-Aqsa Palestine Colouring Book and Palestine Activity Book today! These books will help you to learn more about Palestine in a fun and creative way! Use the order form on page 4 to place your order. Book Co lo u ri n g Palestine Book Palestine Word-searches Colouring Crosswords Spot the difference And much more… Act ivi ty £ 2 £ 3 Fun & Games 6
  7. 7. 7 Ali Abunimah As Compared with the international silence that surrounded Israel’s recent massacres of Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Gaza Strip, condemna- tion and condolences for the victims of the shooting attack that killed eight students at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem have been swift. The day before the Jerusalem attack, Amira Abu ‘Aser was bur- ied in Gaza. She had lived just 20 days on this earth before being shot in the head by Israeli occupation forces who attacked the house of friends she and her family were visiting. Needless to say, she had not been firing rockets at Sderot when she was killed. One of the house’s inhabitants was found the next day, shot dead and his head crushed by an army jeep, an apparent victim of an extrajudicial murder by Israeli forces. But confirming their status in the eyes of the “international community” as less than complete human beings, neither Amira’s killing, nor any of the dozens of Palestinian civilian victims of Israel’s onslaught in Gaza have merited condemnation or condolences. The fallacy that lies behind the differential concern for the lives of innocent Israelis and Palestinians is that the massacre in Jerusalem and the massacres in Gaza can be separated. Israeli deaths are “terrorism,” while Palestinian deaths are merely an unfortunate consequence of the fight against “terror- ism.” But the two are intricately linked, and what happened in Jerusalem is a direct consequence of what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians for decades. Let me be clear that the killing of civilians, Israeli or Palestinian, is wrong, repugnant, and cannot bring this one-hundred-year war caused by the Zion- ist colonization of Palestine to an end. There will be an Israeli propaganda effort, as always, to present Palestinian violence as being simply motivated by hatred, and divorced from the context of brutal occupation that Palestin- ians live under. What greater proof could you need than an attack on reli- gious students, devoting their life to the study of the Torah? We cannot expect much analysis in the media of why the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva might have been chosen as a target. Was it mere coincidence that the school, named for Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, and led after his death by his son Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, is the ideological cradle of the militant, Jewish supremacist settler movement Gush Emunim? Unlike other sects in Israel which sought exemption of their students from military service, Gush Emunim encouraged its followers to join the army and become the armed wing of religious nationalist Zionism. Gush Emunim settlers, many of them, like Moshe Levinger, graduates of Mercaz HaRav, founded the most extreme and racist settlements in the Occupied West Bank, including the notorious colonies in and near Hebron whose inhabit- ants have made life miserable for Palestinians in the city and forced many of them out of their homes. It is the militant settlers of Gush Emunim who still honor Baruch Goldstein who murdered 29 Palestinians in Hebron in February 1994. It is in Hebron that the Gush Emunim settlers spray “Arabs to the gas chambers” on Palestinian houses. It is possible that the Mercaz HaRav gunman did not know or care about any of this, that any target he could identify as Israeli would have satisfied his desire to exact revenge? In 2002, Israeli army chief Moshe Yaalon declared that “the Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.” This would be achieved by the massive and constant application of force until they got the message. The same philoso- phy was elaborated in 2004 by Professor Arnon Soffer, one of the architects, with former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, of the 2005 Gaza “disengagement.” Soffer, an avid supporter of turning Gaza into a hermetically-sealed pen for unwanted Palestinians, explained that if Palestinians fire a single rocket over the fence into Israel, “we will fire 10 in response. And women and children will be killed, and houses will be destroyed. After the fifth such incident, Palestinian mothers won’t allow their husbands to shoot Qassams [rockets], because they will know what’s waiting for them.” For decades Israel has been exercising with ever-escalating brutality this deliberate strategy to crush through force and starvation a civilian popula- tion in rebellion against colonial rule. To Israel’s vexation, the Palestinians are not playing their part. After sixty years of expulsions, massacres, as- sassinations of their leaders, colonization, torture, and mass imprisonment, the Palestinians have utterly failed to understand that they are a “defeated people.” The vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank endure unprecedented oppression by the Israeli army and settlers without resorting to violence in response, but they maintain an inextinguishable determination to endure until they regain their rights. If the methods the Palestinian resistance has sometimes used are reprehen- sible, they have also been typical for anti-colonial resistance movements throughout time, as William Polk shows in his book Violent Politics: A His- tory of Insurgency, Terrorism and Guerrilla War from the American Revo- lution to Iraq, and Robert Pape demonstrated through his study of suicide bombing in Dying to Win. Is it not time for the rest of the world to step in and force Israel at last to understand the same thing, so that the senseless bloodshed can finally stop and all the people of the country - Israelis and Palestinians - can begin to imagine a future other than an endless parade of funerals? The full version of this article is available at A defeated policy, not a defeated people
  8. 8. In October 2000, when the Second Intifada broke out and Arab-Israeli’s peacefully protested against Israeli military action in the occupied territories, 17 year old Aseel Asleh was killed. He was found dead, face down in an olive grove. A bullet, fired from an Israeli police gun at point-blank range had severed an artery near the back of his neck in what appeared to be an execution. Earlier, he had been seen fleeing through the grove, chased by a police squad breaking up the demonstration. Aseel was a firm believer in non-violence, and wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of a prominent Jewish andArab coexistence group, ‘Seeds of Peace’. When Aseel’s parents went to collect his body from the hospital, they were handed a hospital report card which had “Enemy Operation” stamped on the front cover. Asleh was treated as an ‘enemy’ despite the fact that he was an Israeli, albeit an Arab. A later official inquiry found that even the country’s most senior police commanders believed Arab citizens to be “the enemy” and acted accordingly. After a seven-year battle for justice, Asleh’s parents and the family’s of a further 12 Palestinian demonstrators killed inside Israel at the start of the intifada heard that the policemen responsible for the deaths would almost certainly never stand trial. The investigations were being wound up as Israel claimed that there was a lack of evidence and in the cases where there was evidence, the policeman had acted in the belief that their lives were in danger. As the protestors were peacefully demonstrating, this is something their families have never believed. Israel’s Arab population which makes up 1/5 of the state, were deeply angry at this and they viewed it as further evidence that to the state of Israel, “Arab blood is worthless”. A one-day general strike was called in protest against the decision. Asleh’s mother stated: “We shall not keep quiet and we shall show the world what a racist establishment this is, so that everyone knows what is taking place in the State of Israel.” No justice for 17 year old Aseel Asleh’s death Saturday 10th May 2008 FREE PALESTINE END THE SIEGE ON GAZA– FOR THE RIGHT OF RETURN – END ISRAELI OCCUPATION Assemble 1pm Temple Underground station/ Victoria Embankment, rally in Trafalgar Square. The Friends of Al-Aqsa Challenge Want to do something… Fun? Challenging? Fulfilling? Want some… Great Views? Fresh Air? Time Away for it all? Join the Friends of Al-Aqsa Sponsored Challenge 2008 A walk in the Peak District Dovedale 15 km walk Estimated time to complete 4-6 hours Date: Sunday 24th August 2008 All participants must register for the event, and raise at least £150 in sponsorship. For additional condi- tions and instructions, and for regis- tration forms, visit or email