Sunday, 29 November 2009

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: 29 November





"In 1977, the General Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (resolution 32/40 B). On that day, in 1947, the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine (resolution 181 (II)).

In resolution 60/37 of 1 December 2005, the Assembly requested the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Division for Palestinian Rights, as part of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November, to continue to organize an annual exhibit on Palestinian rights or a cultural event in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the UN. It also encouraged Member States to continue to give the widest support and publicity to the observance of the Day of Solidarity."


source: 

http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/palestinian/index.html





Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The 10-month Settlement “freeze”: Yet another Israeli Charade




First approve hundreds of building projects, then announce a “freeze” excluding the approved projects!

Today, the Israeli government announced a 10-month settlement “freeze”. This freeze excludes occupied East Jerusalem, which Netanyahu referred to as “our sovereign capital”, and applies only to new residential building permits. Public building projects such as schools are also excluded from the freeze, and according to Haaretz:
“The freeze will also not apply to construction that has already been authorized or to work on public buildings conducive to normal life in the territories” (http://tinyurl.com/yah5gfs)

In a news conference following the Israeli cabinet meeting, Netanyahu told reporters that:
“When the period of freeze ends my government will return to the previous policy of building in Judea and Samaria,” Netanyahu said, using the Jewish name for the occupied West Bank.” (http://tinyurl.com/yjqpjr7)
Barak, on the other hand, appealed to the terrorist settlers, who attack Palestinians day and night, and whose Rabbis endorse and call for killing non Jews, saying:
“I hope that the Yesha [council of settlements] leadership, which is patriotic, responsible and serious, will understand the need for the decision at this time,”. (http://tinyurl.com/yah5gfs)

The banality of this 10-month settlement “freeze” is clear, knowing that Israel had already approved enough construction projects in the illegal settlements to last much longer that the 10-month period. Add to that: what is the use of a 10-month freeze, or a 1 year freeze or even a 10 year freeze, when this “freeze” excludes occupied Jerusalem, excludes “public building” and is only temporary? Settlements are illegal PERIOD! Existing settlement should be dismantled and not their expansion “stopped for 10 months”.

Last week, news agencies reported that the Israeli government had given final approval for the construction of 900 settlement units in the illegal Gilo settlement in Bethlehem. These units are
part of the 3,000 units scheduled to be constructed in the coming months in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, (http://tinyurl.com/yj4krj2)
Gilo, with its 35,000 illegal settlers, is built on lands belonging to Beit Jala, Beit Safafa and Budrus.

This comes as part of a larger package; the Israeli government and the Israeli Jerusalem municipality have approved the expansion of at least twenty settlements in East Jerusalem. In addition, hundreds of developments on private land are being expanded as well, (http://tinyurl.com/yj4krj2)
and plan building seven huge settlement suburbs in occupied Jerusalem with thousands of settlements units to accommodate tens of thousands of Jewish settlers. According to IMEMC
…. The Israeli plan, prepared by the government and the Jerusalem Municipality, reveals that the newly declared plan for constructions in Gilo settlement is only one of seven even bigger plans. The seven plans for settlement construction are;
1. Gilo; 900 new units to be added to the already existing 800 units, home to 35.000 settlers (
more than 4000 units still waiting approval).
2. Nof Tzion; cornerstone places Wednesday, 107 planned units to be added to 70 existing units.
3. Moscowvitch settlement neighborhood; in Jabal Al Mokabbir, it carries the name of a Jewish millionaire who heavily finances settlement activities
(and would include hundreds of settlement units).
4. Neighborhood 1, planned 3500 units, it includes the biggest Israeli police station.
5. Shepherd Hotel; in Sheikh Jarrah, annexed by Israeli settlers who are planning to demolish it to construct 350 units.
6. Pisgat Zeev; east of Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem, currently home to 12.000 settlers.
7. Qalandia, a large settlement neighborhood east of the Qalandia airport, Israel started constructing 80 units as a first phase.
(http://tinyurl.com/ykfzfxn)

The charade is complete with Netenyahu’s claim that this is another step that
will enable us to show the world this simple truth: The Government of Israel wants to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, is taking practical steps to enter into negotiations and is very serious in its intention to advance peace.” (http://tinyurl.com/yah5gfs)

The news about the “freeze” will of course be received with “welcome”, “relief” and “praise of the Israeli efforts”. As usual there will be talk about the myth of “unprecedented concessions” made by Israel, forgetting or more accurate: ignoring the fact that these settlements are illegal according to international law and that Israel is doing the Palestinians no favor by freezing such illegal activities. Others will commend Israel, greet this “gesture” and talk about Israel’s wish for peace and how it is dying to return to the negotiating tables. There will also be talk about the “ball being in the Palestinian and Arab court” and that Palestinians and Arabs MUST take steps to prove their good will and “repay Israel for this great sacrifice”. Pressure will be placed on the Palestinians and the Arabs to make concessions, again ignoring the fact that Israel MUST stop all settlement activities and not be begged to do that and then praised for it. And if Palestinians and Arabs do refuse this joke of a proposal on the basis that it doesn’t change a thing, they will accused by politicians and the media in the US and Europe of not really wanting peace, of being the real obstacle to peace. But the fact that Netanyahu and the Israeli government had approved one settlement expansion after the other the last couple of weeks does not constitute an obstacle to peace. It was only some days ago when French foreign minister Kouchner declared that the Gilo settlement expansion would not hinder peace.
French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, claimed Wednesday that the Israeli plan to construct hundreds of homes in Gilo settlement, near Bethlehem, would not hinder the peace process…. He said that he believes that expansion plan is not political in nature and should not be an obstacle to peace. Yet, he failed to mention that Gilo, as well as all Israeli settlement in the occupied territories, are illegal and violate the International Law and the Fourth Geneva Conventions. (http://tinyurl.com/ycgf448)

The fact that Kouchner is actually repeating what the Israeli government says, i.e. settlements are no obstacle to peace, just makes one wonder whether he has a dual citizenship; a French and an Israeli. Doesn’t Mr. Kouchner know that East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian Territory according to international law? Does he know that the Gilo settlement is actually built on Bethlehem lands confiscated by Israel? And if building illegal settlement on occupied land is not a political thing, what is it then?

Netanyahu called this charade a “far-reaching and painful step toward peace”, adding that the Palestinians should do the same. What does he want us to do? Give up East Jerusalem as thank you for freezing illegal settlement activities for 10 months? Tell him he can take 60% of the West Bank and that we would be grateful to get the remaining 40%?

And in the mean time, Israel continues expanding its illegal settlements and demolishing Palestinian homes in occupied Jerusalem and the surrounding areas.

© http://avoicefrompalestine.wordpress.com/


Saying “I didn’t know” is no excuse anymore

A couple of days ago I read an article on Sabbah blog entitled Murder at Huwara Checkpoint. It talks about the killing of a 15 year old Palestinian boy by the Israeli soldiers at the Huwara Checkpoint. What drew my attention to the article was the accompanying photo. It was a painting of a Palestinian boy lying dead with stretched arms, an image that is a companion to many Palestinians. While reading the article my mind was moving faster than my eyes. Unfortunately, it was all so familiar; young people waiting to cross a military checkpoint, a rush of bullets coming without any warning, keeping the rest of the people away, preventing the medical teams from saving lives, waiting till the person lying on the ground bleeds to death and then the real “show” begins. The Israeli soldiers take off the dead Palestinian’s clothes, they wash off the pool of blood to remove any traces of their crimes, and then hurry and announce that they have just killed a terrorist who intended to blow himself up. The sad thing is, this scenario has been taking place for decades now and the world still believes these lies and very few dare to question them, despite the existence of witnesses and proof to contradict these lies.

When I was a child we used to spend our summer holidays at my grandparents’ house in Dheisheh refugee camp. At the time the rocky hill opposite the camp was uninhabited and there was a police station at its base. During one visit, my youngest uncle told me that boys from the camp used to go to that hill and sit on the rocks there, talk and laugh and drink soft drinks, mainly cola, while watching the camp. He said that one afternoon one of the boys bought himself a cola bottle and went to the hill. He just sat there drinking his cola and watching the camp. All of a sudden, the sound of bullets being fired alarmed the camp residents. The soldiers dragged the boy, still alive, down to the police station and left him lying there on the ground till he bled to death. As my uncle was telling the story I was trying to imagine the boy sitting there on the rocks enjoying the warm sun and drinking his cola. We often used to go to the nearby hills and collect flowers, especially cyclamen, which we called Zuzu. The only place we could find these flowers was the hills surrounding Dheisheh. They grew near rocks and it seemed to us as if they grew out of the rocks. Till today, this is one of my favorite flowers and the last time I visited Palestine I planted some in our garden and they are still there, as strong as the rocks they used to grow from. My uncle went on with his story telling how the boy was just lying there, bleeding to death, and the Israeli soldiers were all surrounding him and preventing anyone from coming closer. I suppose he was very affected by this because he tried imitating what he saw: he said the boy was drawing in long noisy breaths, as if he was hiccupping and kept doing that till his last breath. Since the day I heard my uncle describing how the boy died, the image of him lying on the ground bleeding and that chocking sound my uncle tried to imitate, this image is the first thing that comes to my mind whenever I hear of someone, often it is the youth, being shot at and left lying to bleed to death.

Often enough whenever such crimes against unarmed Palestinian civilians take place, there are witnesses and there is even sometimes photo or video evidence to show what really happened. This evidence is usually disregarded and ignored. Foreign reporters hurry to spread the Israeli army’s version of events, despite the available evidence contrary to those versions and without even bothering hearing what Palestinian witnesses have to say. The other party is totally ignored, they don’t even exist in Israeli, American and European media, at least not as victims. On 8 February 2002 a young Palestinian student called Mahmoud Salah was arrested in Beit Hanina, he was searched and handcuffed. The soldiers started shooting in the air to chase eyewitnesses away. After two soldiers took off his clothes, he was executed. Immediately after that they brought one of these bomb-detecting robots to deceive the world and claim he was a suicide bomber. What the Israeli army didn’t know was that someone was taking photos of the whole incident from a nearby building. These photos show clearly how Mahmoud Salah was forced on the ground, his clothes being taken off (no bombs to be seen) and then shot dead without reason, the robot being brought to “search” him, with him lying naked there. One Photo shows some soldiers pinning Mahmoud Salah to the ground just before executing him. Would they have held him and sat on him like that had they had 0.1% of a doubt he might be a suicide bomber? No, they would never have dared do that. They were SURE he is NOT a suicide bomber! These photos were to be found for a time on You Tube. Some months ago I heard about how You Tube is removing all videos that show the crimes of the Zionist state. I searched for that video in vain; it has been removed as well. Instead you get the usual: “This video has been removed due to terms of use violation”. Videos showing unarmed Palestinian civilians, including children and women, being killed by Israeli soldiers are a violation of terms of use. Videos showing the various crimes committed on a regular basis against an unarmed population for no reason other than hate, racism and land theft are a violation of terms of use. I wonder what these terms of use are: you shall hide the truth, the whole truth and everything that is the truth about the crimes against humanity committed by the Zionist state.

Whenever you try talking about the crimes of the Zionist state and the unbalanced media coverage, the first thing you hear, especially from Zionists or pro-Israelis, is that the media is biased in favor of the Palestinians. They know they are lying, they know that you know they lying and they know that the whole world knows they are lying and that western media is either in the hands of Zionists or run by pro-Zionists. Nevertheless, they continue claiming this in conferences, in discussions rounds, TV interviews, etc., and particularly when asked about the crimes committed by Israel! The media has only to work for the interest of Israel, anything else is labeled as bias, even being neutral isn’t good enough for the Zionists.

In addition to that, it is often that interviews are conducted with Israeli politicians, citizens and army personnel and seldom with Palestinians. Discussion rounds on the Middle East conflict include Israeli and European or American speakers or so-called experts and seldom do they include Palestinians. How are Palestinians to talk about their version of things when they aren’t even invited in the first place? How are they to answer to the many allegations and lies spread by the Israeli government and army when they aren’t even given the chance to do that? And if it happens and a Palestinian is interviewed or invited to participate in a discussion round, he is confronted with several Zionists and pro-Israelis and is interrupted every time he starts stating the facts, because facts are thing the viewers shouldn’t know about. The moderators do their best to please the Israeli participants. This also applies to anti-Zionist Jews like what happened to Felicia Langer, who spent most of her life defending Palestinian prisoners and wrote books about the torture taking place for decades in Israeli prisons. During one TV interview on a certain German news network, instead of giving her the chance to talk, the moderator kept interrupting Langer and talking herself in defense of Israel. If this moderator didn’t want to hear any critique about Israel, why did she invite Langer to her show in the first place? Or is this how one proves he/she is loyal to the written and unwritten media regulations of not criticizing Israel? On the other hand, Zionists and their supporters are granted full time to insult, abuse and spread lies about the Palestinians. They are not interrupted when they talk about transfer and kicking Palestinians out of the land (1). And if it happens that one journalist has a bit of morals and questions Israel’s acts he is attacked by the interviewee as being Anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli and spreading Palestinian propaganda and most probably will be asked to apologize, which unfortunately most reporters do, showing how cowardly they are. Or they are transferred to other locations or they lose their jobs. And if one questions the racist and hateful statements of an Israeli politician made publicly about Palestinians, the Israeli government spokesperson is quick to claim that the media is over-reacting, or that the statements of one person don’t reflect the policy of the government, or better still that one shouldn’t take the statements of a “crazy man” for real. But when a Palestinian father who had just lost his entire family after an Israeli air raid starts shouting out of despair in front of his destroyed house that he is going to kill the “Jews” or the “Israelis”, the Israeli spokesperson repeats this for months and uses this as an “evidence” that Palestinians are full of hate and don’t want peace, and they ask all media networks to spread this “evidence”. Documentaries produced by former IDF people are shown during peak time and more than once, while independent and neutral documentaries that show some of the suffering of the Palestinians are seldom broadcast or when they are, they are aired well after midnight, making sure that very few people would be watching TV at this time.

You never hear about the suffering of the Palestinians, only how Israelis suffer under “Palestinian terror”. Nothing about the almost daily Palestinians victims, nor the checkpoints, nor the thousands of prisoners in Israeli prisons, nor the apartheid wall, nothing about schools and hospitals being shelled, nothing at all to imply there is a brutal military occupation in Palestine. Have these reporters ever heard about the secret prisons in Israel, where Palestinians just vanish and are never to be seen again? Have they ever heard about Palestinian prisoners from Bethlehem having numbers tattooed on their hands, a method used by the Nazis in concentration camps? During the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, every single western TV station reported about the evacuation of the Jewish settlers, showed the women and children crying and the men being carried out of their houses by force. That these are illegal settlers, radical fanatics living on occupied Palestinian land who carry guns and have often attacked and killed Palestinian civilians was only worth mentioning by a very few. In comparison, I wonder how many reports were made in the last decades about the Israeli policy of house demolition (Between 1987 and 2005, 1115 Palestinian houses were completely demolished, 64 were partially demolished, 299 were completely sealed and 118 were partially sealed leaving thousands homeless (2)).

It is always the Israelis who “took a great, courageous and painful step for the sake of peace”.
It is always the Palestinians who are to be blamed for the failure of the so-called peace process and who “destroy peace efforts”.
It is always calm in the region as long as there are no Israeli casualties. Even when Palestinian cities are being bombarded, it is calm.
It is always the Palestinians who “claim” but never the Israelis. The Palestinians are not to be trusted, but no one should ever doubt the word of an Israeli.
Never mention the on-going Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, destruction and the siege of a whole nation.
Never mention the on-going land grab, illegal settlement activities, the control of Palestinian natural resources by Israel.
Never mention the Israeli killing of innocent civilians.

Not even the houses and olive trees escape Israel’s army’s brutality, how about humans?

Why is it allowed to report about the atomic programmes of every single country in the world, even claim that some have it without any evidence, but never about Israel? Not even governments are allowed to talk about Israel’s atomic programme. And when the BBC had the courage to write about the issue, the Israeli government accused it being jointly responsible for Anti-Semitism in England. So, if writing about Israel’s nuclear programme is considered Anti-Semitic, what do you call writing about the nuclear programme of the US? Or that of China? Or Russia, etc…? According to that BBC report(3), Israel has the world’s 6th largest nuclear arsenal, from tactical bombs to medium-range rockets, as well as biological and chemical weapons. According to the same documentary the Israeli army had used an unknown gas against Palestinians in Gaza.

The Israelis are always the good ones, the innocent ones, the victims, while Palestinians are the bad ones, the terrorists, the perpetrators. It is always about the right of existence of Israel, and this is used not only by Israel but by western governments and media as well, an excuse for the Israeli attacks on innocent civilians, an excuse not to criticize Israel and keep silent about its crimes against humanity. Every Israeli crime against unarmed civilians is excused with the sentence: Israel has the right to defend itself against those wishing to “destroy it” (keep in mind that Israel has the world’s 6th largest nuclear arsenal). But what about the Palestinian s’ right to exist? What about the Palestinian s’ right to self-defense? Or aren’t we humans as a number of Israeli politicians and high-ranking military personnel described us? Wouldn’t it be considered Anti-Semitic and racist to call a Jew a cockroach or an animal on two legs? Why is it then allowed that Israeli politicians describe Palestinians as such? “Rafael Eytan, the former Israeli chief of staff, used to talk of the Palestinians as “cockroaches in a glass jar”. Menachem Begin called them “two-legged beasts”. Rabbi Ovdia Yousef, the spiritual head of the Shas party, called them “serpents”. In August last year, Ehud Barak called them “crocodiles”. Last month, the Israeli tourism minister, Rehavem Zeevi, called Arafat a “scorpion”"(4).

Worse still is the western media’s policy of showing Palestinians as terrorists and only as terrorists. There was a number of times when explosions took place in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and the media was transmitting live about this “breaking news” (Breaking News is reserved for Israelis, Palestinians don’t even deserve to be News) and reporters were speculating about the “terrorists”. Later to find out it was either the Israeli mafia blowing up rival offices or a gas cylinder that exploded in a house or a restaurant. One would expect the media to correct its previous reports about it being a “Palestinian terrorist act”. No, the minute it’s clear you can’t blame this on Palestinians, the whole thing is forgotten, thus making sure that the viewer continues to believe it to be a “terrorist act carried out by Palestinians”.

Despite all of this, despite the fact that Palestinians are often referred to only as the “terrorists”, despite mostly showing photos of crying Israeli mothers and none of crying Palestinian mothers, despite only showing Palestinians as angry, shouting, bearded men marching with machine guns or burning Israeli flags, despite all of this, you still have Israelis and their supporters whining publicly on TV and claiming that western media, particularly European media, is against them and is pro-Palestinian. I want so much to hear a Zionist saying the truth for once and admitting that the media in Europe is not neutral, but in fact biased in favor of Israel. We are not blind, we are not deaf and we see and hear what the various TV stations or newspapers or magazines publish. I live in Germany and whenever there is a discussion on this issue the first thing Israelis complain about is that the media is pro-Palestinian. I have been living here for 8 years now, and for once, just once, I would want to see a German correspondent who doesn’t describe us as terrorists or who would report about Palestinian victims without giving an excuse for the Israeli crime. Even one single settler being injured by a stone is more likely to make it to the headlines than dozens of Palestinian civilians being butchered by the Israeli army in a single raid while sleeping in their homes. Matter of fact, it did happen, and that settler made headlines at the time! And if it happens and they do report about Palestinian casualties, simply because it was too horrific not to mention, then that’s it, you know that for months to come you won’t hear one single thing about Palestinian casualties. And to make amends and make sure the viewers were not “brainwashed” by that single report and have not miraculously turned into Palestine supporters, several documentaries will be aired about the so-called “only democracy in the region”. Well, one has to add, whenever there was Palestinian internal fighting in Gaza, this was making headlines and there were daily reports about it (mostly from Tel Aviv as usual).

To control the work of journalists on the ground, they need to apply for a press-ID card that is issued by the Israeli government press office (GPO). After that they are required to sign a “”waiver” form, exonerating Israel of all responsibility if they are injured while in the Gaza Strip, including from the actions of the Israeli army.”(5) The fear of losing their Press-IDs and their jobs if they write something dissatisfactory about Israel encourages journalists to exercise self-censorship. Other methods to dictate and control the work of the media include the embedded-journalists strategy which has been used by the GPO during the Gaza withdrawal. German reporters for example have to sign a commitment stating that they will not write anything against the interest and the security of Israel(6). Anyway, most foreign reporters live in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and don’t even bother to go to the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. They use Israeli sources in the first place and most interviews are conducted with Israeli personalities and rarely with Palestinian ones. Even the few journalists travelling to the Palestinians territories are confronted with checkpoints and are often told they are not allowed in because of the area being a closed military zone. The journalist Karin Wenger reported that the GPO didn’t want to renew her Press-ID after she had reported from Gaza for two months. She was told she had used her card too often(7).

Reporters who dare to report from the Palestinian Territories, whether Palestinian or foreign, often find themselves under attack. The list of media personnel killed, injured, deported and arrested by the Israeli army is long, the last of which being Fadel Shanna, the Reuters cameraman, killed by an Israeli tank while during his job of covering the news. They didn’t want him to film what destruction they were spreading in the land, how they were destroying houses and farms and how they were firing tank shells at unarmed civilians. Reporters who have a conscience or those who can’t lie for Israel anymore are transferred to other regions or lose their jobs. Those who write the truth are always under attack by Israeli Americans or Israeli Europeans and pro-Israelis who have never been in Palestine and have no idea what is going on there except what they hear from the Zionist media. Every time I read a comment of such people I just shake my head. The only thing these people do is attack this reporter and call them anti-Israeli or Anti-Semite or pro-Arab, etc… as if one has either to be pro-Israel or pro-Israel. Even neutral doesn’t work anymore, you have to be 100% pro-Israel. One comment I read was so pathetic that the European commentator not knowing what to say to justify his attack on a certain reporter, bragged about having served in the IDF and that it did happen that the IDF had saved Palestinians from a sure death (????). I suppose he was talking about collaborators.

Isn’t freedom of the press supposed to be part of a real democracy? It seems today democracy is defined according to the whims and dictates of certain countries and according to which country this concept is to be applied to. The western democracies are quick to criticize the third world countries and especially the Arab world for their media policy, but that they themselves exercise censorship when it comes to the Israel and covering up its crimes is a closed matter. Israel is being rewarded for killing innocent civilians not only by the various governments but by the media as well. Germans and others keep saying they have learned from the lessons of WWII and that they won’t keep silent or look away when it comes to violations of human rights. Nevertheless they keep silent and look away when it comes to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people and that makes accomplices of them. Today, with the advanced media technology, almost everyone has access to Information and from mountains of sources. Articles, Reports, Statistics, Photos, Videos and Testimonies about the various Israeli crimes committed against the Palestinian people are documented and to be found online from various sources, starting from Palestinian to foreign to Israeli websites committed to telling the truth about the ME conflict. One has only to use his/her brain and look behind the headlines in search of the truth. Saying we didn’t know is no excuse anymore.

“As that brave American writer Charley Reese said in his regular US column, the Israelis “have created their own unconquerable enemy”. They have made the Palestinians so crushed, so desperate, so humiliated that they have nothing to lose. We, too, have done this. Our gutlessness, our refusal to tell the truth, our fear of being slandered as “anti-Semites” – the most loathsome of libels against any journalist – means that we are aiding and abetting terrible deeds in the Middle East. Maybe we should look up those cuttings of the apartheid era and remember when men were not without honour.”(8)




Footnotes:
See also: http://www.ifamericansknew.org/media/nyt-report.html and http://www.doublestandards.org/biaspale.html and http://ifamericansknew.org/media/erasevideo.html
(1) Zeevi, the previous Israeli tourism minister, used to call openly for the transfer of all Palestinians.
(2) http://www.btselem.org/english/Punitive_Demolitions/Statistics_Since_1987.asp
(3) BBC documentary entitled “Israel’s Secret Weapon”.
(4) Robert Fisk: When Journalists Refuse To Tell the Truth About Israel. http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0417-06.htm
(5) Jonathan Cook: Covering Up Gaza, http://www.jkcook.net/Articles2/0256.htm#Top
(6) Viktoria Waltz: Der Nahost-Konflikt und die Medien, http://www.uni-kassel.de/fb5/frieden/regionen/Nahost/waltz.html
(7) Karin Wenger: Brauchen Sie eine Idee für eine Geschichte? http://www.nzz.ch/2006/09/08/em/articleEG5TW.html
(8) Robert Fisk: When Journalists Refuse To Tell the Truth About Israel, http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0417-06.htm

© http://avoicefrompalestine.wordpress.com/

Friday, 20 November 2009

Cats are a Threat to the Security of Israel




A couple of day ago, some news agencies reported the imprisonment of a cat by the Israeli Prison Authority. The cat was placed in an isolation cell in the Israeli Naqab prison as punishment for helping isolated Palestinian prisoners. The reported cat had been “caught” transporting light stuff belonging to Palestinian prisoners from one isolation cell to another. Reports add that Palestinian prisoners have been taking care of the many cats that come to the tents in search of food.

This is not a joke, nor is it a shocker. For everything is to be expected from the Zionist entity; an entity that wouldn’t hesitate to arrest children, women and elderly. Mothers, fathers and siblings would be arrested so as to pressure wanted Palestinians and force them to surrender themselves to the IOF or admit to things they never committed. This same entity doesn’t hesitate to threaten women and young girls with rape and threaten little children with torture if they didn’t confess or expose the whereabouts of their fathers or brothers. This same entity that beat elderly mothers in front of their sons to force the sons into confessing what they never did. This same entity that would kill prisoners in cold blood after their arrest, that would torture prisoners to death, that would stand still and watch while Palestinian prisoners cry out in pain till they die due to medical negligence.

This same entity that arrested over 760,000 Palestinians since 1967, including 13,000 women and tens of thousands of children.
This same entity that arrested 68,000 Palestinians since Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, including more than 800 women and more than 7700 children.
This same entity that holds today some 11650 Palestinians prisoners, including 326 children, 32 women and 1500 who are in need of medical care.
This same entity that holds 50 Palestinian prisoners in isolation cells
This same entity that holds 16 Palestinian prisoners suffering from cancer
This same entity that holds 150 Palestinian prisoners suffering from heart diseases and blood pressure problems
This same entity that holds 40 Palestinian prisoners suffering from mental and psychological ailments due to the interrogation methods used by the Israeli Shabak and the Israeli prison authorities, which include torture
This same entity that killed 197 Palestinian prisoners since 1967: 70 as a result of torture, 71 killed in cold blood after being arrested, 49 as a result of medical negligence and 7 being shot dead inside prisons by the Israeli prison authorities
This same entity that holds 325 Palestinian “veteran prisoners”, who have been locked up in Israelis jails since before 1993.
This same entity that holds 108 Palestinian “deans of prisoners”, who have spent 20+ years inside Israeli jails
This same entity that holds 13 Palestinian prisoners since more than 25 years
This same entity that holds over 500 Palestinian administrative detainees without charges or trial
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Thus, it is not a surprise that the Zionist entity would even imprison a cat for helping Palestinian prisoners. For even a cat has more compassion and “humanity” than the Zionists. So, for all those Palestinians who own a cat, prepare yourself for an IOF arrest campaign of all cats on grounds that these cats are collaborating with the Palestinians and constitute a security threat to the existence of Israel.
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sources:
www.aljazeera.net, www.ppsmo.org, www.palestinebehindbars.org

© http://avoicefrompalestine.wordpress.com/

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Saturday, 7 November 2009

Kafr Qasem Massacre 29 October 1956



A collection of articles and papers on the massacre, including testimonies of survivors:

“29 October 1956: Israeli frontier guards started at 4 pm what they called a tour of the Triangle Villages. They told the Mukhtars (Aldermen) of those villages that the curfew from that day onwards was to start from 5 pm instead of 6 pm. They reached Kafr Qasem around 4:45 and informed the Mukhtar protested that there are about 400 villagers working outside the village and there is not enough time to inform them of the new times. An officer assured him that they will be taken care of. Then the guards waited at the entrance to the village. 43 Kafr Qasem inhabitants were massacred in cold blood by the army as they returned from work, their crime was violating a curfew they did not know about. On the northern entrance of the village 3 were killed and 2 were killed inside of the village. Amongst the dead were men, women, and children. Lutanat Danhan was touring the area in his jeep reporting the massacre, on his wireless he said "minus 15 Arabs" after a while his message on the radio to his H.Q. was "it is difficult to count".”
http://www.kufur-kassem.com/cms/content/view/148/154/1/5/

Kfar Kassem Massacre “In this way were the 49 inhabitants of Kafr Kassem slaughtered”
The following is a detailed account of the horrible massacre of Kfar Kassem as told by eyewitnesses. The Israeli daily, Kol Haam published on Wednesday, December 19, 1956 on its front page the following detailed story of the Kfar Kassem massacre, which was committed by the Israeli army on October 29, 1956, against the Arabs in occupied Palestine. Forty-nine men, women and children were slaughtered in cold blood. Kol Haam published the story of the massacre under the title, “In This Way Were the 49 Inhabitants of Kfar Kassem Slaughtered.” The following is a literal translation:

Here are the details of the massacre in which 49 of the peaceful inhabitants of Kfar Kassem-- all Arabs living in Israel-- were slaughtered in cold blood. Another thirteen of these inhabitants also sustained serious injuries in this horrible massacre committed by the troops of the Israeli frontier guards.

On October 29, 1956, the day on which Israel launched its assault on Egypt, units of the Israeli frontier guards started at 4 p.m. what they called a tour of the Triangle Villages. They informed the Mukhtars (heads of the villages) and the rural councils that the curfew in those villages was from that day onwards to be observed from 5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. as was the case before, and that the inhabitants were, therefore, requested to stay home as from that very instant.

One of the villages the frontier guards passed through was Kfar Kassem. This is a small Arab village situated near the Israeli settlement of Betah Tefka. The villagers there received the alert at 4:45 p.m., only 15 minutes before the new curfew time. The “Mukhtar” of Kfar Kassem promptly informed the unit officer that a large number of the villagers, whose work took them outside the village, knew nothing of this curfew. The officer in charge replied that his soldiers would take care of these. The villagers who were home complied with the newly-imposed curfew and remained indoors. Meanwhile, the armed frontier guards posted themselves at the village gates. Before long, the first batch of villagers came into sight. The first to arrive was a group of four laborers, home-bound, on bicycles. Here is what one of these laborers, Abdullah Samir Bedir by name, said about this incident:

“We reached the village entrance at about 4:55 p.m. We were suddenly confronted by a frontier unit consisting of 12 men and an officer, all occupying an army truck. We greeted the officer in Hebrew saying ‘Shalom Katsin’ which means ‘Peace be unto you officer,’ to which he gave no reply. He then asked us in Arabic: ‘Are you happy?’ and we said, ‘Yes.’ The soldiers then started stepping down from the truck and the officer ordered us to line up. Then he shouted to his soldiers this order:
‘Laktasour Otem,’ which means ‘Reap them!’ The soldiers opened fire, but by then I had flung myself on the ground, and started rolling, yelling as I rolled over. Then I feigned death. Meanwhile, the soldiers had so riddled the bodies of my three friends with bullets that the officer in charge ordered them to cease firing, adding that the bullets were merely being wasted. As he put it, we had more than the necessary dose of those deadly bullets.

“All this occurred while I lay very still, feigning death. Then I saw three laborers approaching on a small horse cart. The soldiers stopped the cart and killed all three of them. Soon after, the soldiers moved a few yards down the road, apparantly to take up positions that would enable them to stop a new truckload of home-bound villager, as well as a bunch of workers returning home on their bicycles. I seized this opportunity and moved as quickly as I could to the nearest house. The soldiers saw me and opened fire, but I was already in safety.

“One of the trucks used for transporting farm produce was again stopped while carrying thirteen olive pickers, all women and girls, and two male laborers and the driver. They were attacked by the same group of frontier guards, who pitilessly butchered all but one of them.”

This is what 16-year-old Hanna Soliman Amer, the only survivor, said about this incident:
“The soldiers brought our car to a halt at the entrance of the village and ordered the two workers and the driver to step down. Then they told them they were going to be killed. On hearing that the women started crying and screaming, begging the soldiers to spare those poor workers’ lives. But the soldiers shouted at the women, saying that their turn was coming and that they, too, were going to be killed.
“The soldiers stared at the women for a few moments, as if waiting for their officer to give the order. Then I heard the officer talk over the wireless set, apparantly asking the headquarters for instructions about the women. The minute the wireless conversation was over, the soldiers took aim at the women and girls, who were 13 in number, and who included pregnant ones (Fatma Dawoud Sarsour was in her eighth month pregnancy) as well as an old woman of sixty and two thirteen-year-old girls (Latifa Eissa and Rashika Bedair).”

The number of cars stopped by the Israeli soldiers of the frontier guards was three; the people in all three cars were ordered to descend and were shot by machine-gun fire, killing them instantly.

A fourth car, which was a little late in coming, met with better luck, for the driver, seeing the bodies scattered around, didn’t heed the order to stop. He pressed the accelerator and thus managed to escape with his car. The soldiers, however, succeeded in shooting one of the passengers as the care sped by.

With the massacre practically over, the soldiers moved around finishing off whoever still had a pulse beating in him. Later on, the examination of these bodies showed that the soldiers mutilated them, smashing the heads and cutting open the abdomens of some of the wounded women to finish them off. The only survivors were those who for some time lay buried under the corpses of their comrades and thus had their bodies covered with the blood of these victims, giving the impression that they, too, were dead. Those were the only ones who lived to speak of the horrors of the massacre of Kfar Kassem.

The massacre lasted for an hour and a half and the soldiers looted whatever they could find, apparently while going round the bodies doing their finishing-off job. However, thirteen of those wretched people only fainted when they were shot at. These were taken to Bilinson as well as to other hospitals.

One of those wounded was Osman Selim, who was travelling on one of the trucks. He witnessed the massacre, and escaped by pretending to be dead among the pile of corpses. Assad Selim, a cyclist, was seriously injured. So was Abdel Rahman Yacoub Sarsoura, a youth aged 16, who is deaf and dumb. The only one who managed to escape death and reach Kroum El-Zeitoum is Ismail Akab Badeera, aged 18, who nursed his wounds until he got there, then climbing up an olive tree despite his suffering. He remained there for two whole days until a passing shepherd came along and carried him to a hospital where one of his legs had to be amputated for gangrene.

The blood bath was not restricted to the entrance or outskirts, but was carried right into the village itself. Talal Shaker Eissa, aged 8, left his home to bring in a flock of goats. He had hardly stepped out of his home when he was murdered by a shot fired by one of the soldiers. When his father ran out to investigate, he was killed by another shot. The mother, dragging in his body, was then shot. Noura, the remaining child, followed the cries of agony coming from her parents, and was killed on the spot by a hail of bullets. The only survivor of the family, a frail and aged grandfather, hearing the horror and the sounds of death, succumbed to a heart attack and died.

The next day, 31 October, 1956, a curfew was imposed on the village of Kfar Kassem, and during that time, the Israeli police brought over some of the villagers form (neighboring) Galgoulia and ordered them to bury the corpses, which included fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. Among these were Safa Abdalla Sarour, a woman aged 45, who was killed with her two sons, Jihad, 16, and Abdalla, 14. Osman Abdalla Eissa was killed with his son Fathi aged 12; and Zeinab Abdel Rahman Taha and her daughter Bikria, aged 17
http://www.kufur-kassem.com/cms/content/view/148/154/1/3/

Kufr Qassem: 40 Years Later And The Wounds Are Still Fresh, Survivors Of Horrible Massacre

It was a 90-minute drive from Jerusalem to the town of Kufr Qassem in the Palestinian triangle inside Israel proper. I had arranged a number of interviews with survivors of a massacre the Israeli army committed four decades ago. The road leading into the town was full of olive trees on both sides. Only a few people were collecting their olives. The harvest was close to its end. And so it was those days forty years ago. On 29 October 1956, just hours after the tripartite attack of Israel, France and Britain started on Egypt in what was known as the Sinai Campaign, 49 villagers from Kufr Qassem were slaughtered in cold blood as they made their way back from their fields to their homes.

In the town center stood a monument commemorating those who were killed. The list of names carved on the big square stone gave all 49 names and a blank space was left without any name. I later was told it was left for the 50th victim whose name nobody could tell. One of the murdered women was pregnant in her eighth month and the baby died in her womb. No one could ever come up with a suitable name to that unborn victim. I went through the list and matched it with names of people who were slated for interviews later in the day. Many names sounded familiar. Many of them were relatives of some of those I was going to see. The view of those picking their olives whom I saw on my way into the town crossed my mind to intercut later with images of those who returned to their homes on the day of the massacre. The scene moved me and I felt teardrops were about to roll down my face. At that moment, rain started to fall, lightly first and later very heavily. The sky. I wondered, was crying in Kufr Qassem!

Israel did not spare any effort to hide the crime and to cover up for those who committed it. The strict censorship it clamped on the story lasted for only a week. On 6 November 1956, one Israeli newspaper reported that a commission of inquiry "was set to investigate the incidents in Kufr Qassem where some civilians were killed and others wounded during a curfew in Kufr Qassem." A month and a half later, details on the massacre started to flow in through the media. A number of left wing and Arab Knesset members played a leading role and contributed to the exposure. Tewfiq Toubi and Meir Wilner of the Israeli Communist Party sent hundreds of letters about the events on that day to public figures in the country. Latif Dori, an active member of left-wing Zionist Mapam Party infiltrated into the village three days after the massacre and collected first hand testimonies from survivors. Uri Avneri, also a leading leftist who was the first to visit PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat in Beirut during the Israeli siege of the Lebanese capital in 1982, played an effective role through his weekly magazine, Ha'Oiam Hazeh (This World.) Yet all what was published in those days could not give an exact account of the motives behind the massacre. The villagers gave the only explanation. They insisted the slaughtering of innocent villagers was meant to force them out of their country into Jordan. Kufr Qassem was no more than ten kilometers away from the 1967 borders between Israel and Jordan.

Only in 1991, part of the truth started to come out. Rupik Rozenthal, an Israeli journalist, wrote in "Hadashot" on 25 November saying the massacre was part of an overall plan by the Israeli army to deport as many Palestinians as possible out of the country. Rozenthal was allowed to go through the army archives and read the minutes of the military trial of the 11 soldiers and officers who were involved in the massacre. He found out that the plan was to try and move the Palestinians out of the Arab villages in the Triangle and send them into Jordan should the latter intervenes in support for Egypt. Jordan did not enter the 1956 war. The plan was not carried out in full. Only the first phase was done. The dire price was 49 villagers from Kufr Qassem.

When the crime was too heinous to hide, Israel decided to put those involved on military trial, which according to the villagers was no more than a joke. Colonel Yishishkar Shedmi, who changed the timing for the curfew and reportedly gave his soldiers the green light to go ahead with the massacre, was only found guilty of exceeding his authority when he moved the curfew hour.

The court fined him one piaster fine only. The verdict, at least as far as the villagers were concerned, meant that the one piaster was the price Israel was ready to give for the 49 victims. The rest of those on trial were sentenced between seven to 17 years imprisonment but all were released before the end of the third year of their penalty. Major Avraham Melinki, who commanded the Border Police force in the village and was the one who gave the orders to shoot, was promoted right after his release from prison. Then Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben Gurion placed him in charge of security arrangements in Israel's maximum-security nuclear reactor in Dimona. Colonel Shedmi continued his service in the army. In 1967, he was a mechanized brigade commander and in 1973 he served as advisor to the commander of the northern district and was wounded when their helicopter crashed over Mount of Hermon on the Golan Heights.



Testimonies of survivors:

1-Jamal Freij was 17 years old the day the massacre took place. He was among a number of villagers working their fields. Among their group, there were some 25 girls and women. "Two kids from the village came to notify us that curfew hour was moved earlier to five in the afternoon. I told the women to head back to their homes. I went, along with a number of men, to a warehouse to change our clothes. On our way back, and at a distance of two kilometers, we heard heavy shooting coming from the village direction. We started to retreat but a lorry driver who came rushing towards the village told us there was no need to run away simply because, he thought and we believed, the shooting was not that serious or indiscriminate. At the entrance to the village, three soldiers stopped us. Their officer ordered us to get out of the lorry, which drove us to the village. The minute we told him we all were from Kufr Qassem he ordered his soldiers to open fire. They shot at us. Many fell on the ground, dead or wounded. I was among a number of men who ran away but I fell a minute later and hid myself behind the lorry's wheel until the soldiers discovered me late at night and took me back to the village."

2-Talal Issa Shaker was eight years only. Villagers still remember the tragedy that involved his death. He went out to return the flock of sheep from the neighboring fields. A villager I met confirmed that the soldiers "saw Talal and shot him dead. When his father went out to check what was happening, they soldiers shot and seriously wounded him. The mother later went out and was shot and so was the daughter, Noura."

3-Mustafa Khamis Amer is now 58 years old. He explains how he miraculously escaped death: "The soldiers at the southern entrance to the village stopped us and checked our identity cards. Immediately afterwards, their officer ordered them to shoot. I started to run away and managed to disappear from them while many others were shot dead or wounded." On that day, Mustafa added, villagers from nearby Jaijoulya were brought in by the army to dig a huge hole, which at the time they never knew it was meant to become the collective grave for the victims. All bodies were put in nylon bags and put aside ready for burial, he said.

4-Saleh Khalil Issa was 19 years old. His testimony, given in detail to Latif Dori three days after the massacre, gave the following account: "We were heading back to the village on our bicycles. We arrived at about ten to five in the afternoon. Three soldiers at the western entrance to the village ordered us to stop. Each of us put his hand in his pocket to pull out his identity card but the officer did not wait. He gave orders to open fire. They shot and immediately killed my cousin Abed Salim Issa and injured his brother Asaad and myself. We fell on the ground and then we saw another group of people riding their bicycles approaching. They were a group of eleven people, whose names are known to me. I heard the officer giving orders using a term HARVEST THEM and they opened fire. We fell on the ground. I saw a car approaching driven by Ata Yaacob who had some passengers with him. They all were ordered to step out of the car and to stand in a queue. The officer again used the same term and fire was opened at them. The soldiers then pulled all bodies to a nearby field. At a certain moment, we found out the soldiers were looking in the opposite direction and we started to run away. We ran for some 50 metres and fire was shot at us again. I took the ground and stayed there until the next morning. Throughout the night, I heard soldiers giving instructions to move the bodies. In the morning, the soldiers saw me and took me to the hospital.

5-Abdul Rahim Sarsourwas also 17 years old on that day. He remembers how he was injured on his way back to the village when soldiers opened fire at him and at the group that returned with him. He pretended he was dead to escape being shot at again by the soldiers. He said he still feels guilty for the death of his brother, whom their mother sent to inform Abdul Rahim and the others that the curfew hour was changed. "Had he stayed home, he would be alive today,"said Abdul Rahim who gave the following account: "We arrived in the village. Soldiers were manning a roadblock on the entrance. They ordered us out of the car. An officer then gave his orders to HARVEST US and fire was opened indiscriminately in our direction. I fell on the ground and so did many others, some were killed immediately and others wounded. My brother fell next to me. He murmured asking if I was hit. I gave him a blow with my elbow to remain silent but it was too late. A soldier approached and fired four bullets at me, hitting both my right leg and arm. The soldier then pointed his gun to my brother's head and fired several rounds of bullets. The head exploded in pieces while I was watching but did not dare say a single word. I cannot forget that moment at all. I still remember how my brother, frightened by the soldiers, was pressing with his hands on my chest. When the soldier fire at him, I felt the pressure increasing for a second or two until his hands went loose. Jum'ah Sarsour, another wounded. lay next to me. He was moaning with pain. I tried to ask him to remain silent but it was too late too. One of the soldiers drew close to him and shot him dead. A third main badly wounded was screaming at the soldiers. A soldier approached him and shouted WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING, YOU SON-OF-A-BITCH and shot him dead. A car approached with a number of women aboard singing. One of the girls saw the bodies and yelled on the rest to stop singing. The driver sped away from the scene but some 150 meters away we heard plenty of shooting."Abdu! Rahim said he lost conscience sometime at night and woke up to find a soldier pulling him from the leg. He told the soldier to stop dragging him along with the dead bodies. "The soldier took out his gun and was about to shoot me when an ambulance arrived and its driver asked if the soldiers had any wounded. It was my lucky minute. The driver put me in his ambulance and drove to the hospital."
http://www.kufur-kassem.com/cms/content/view/148/154/1/1/

“One of the most horrible massacres committed in cold blood against innocent and defenseless civilians took place in Kafr Qasem on the eve of the assault against Egypt. It was intended to cause panic and trigger flight across the borders in a replicate to what happened in 1948 when the massacre of Deir Yassin was committed while Plan Dalet was taking place.

The innocent victims, including women and children, were farmers coming back from the field not aware that a curfew had been imposed on their village and neighboring Arab communities. The curfew was declared at 4:30 P.M. to take force at 5:00 P.M. Explicit orders were given to the soldiers "to shoot to kill all who broke the curfew...there shall be no arrests". Hadashot established that the slaughter was carried out against the background of a plan devised by the Israeli army on the eve of the 1956 war - Hafarferet. It was intended to create panic and cause the inhabitants of the area to flee across the borders. A Border Guard battalion of the IDF carried out the massacre. Major Shmuel Malinki and Lieutenant Gabriel Dahan were found guilty of the killings and sentenced to 17 and 15 years respectively. The punishment did not fit the crime. Nevertheless, the convicted men were pardoned and released from prison within 3 years from the massacre. The Jewish Agency gave Dahan a job as manager of the sale of Israel's government bonds in a European capital. Malinki, who was stripped of his rank by the court, was reinstated by Ben-Gurion. Malinki's widow, Nehama, revealed many years later that while the trial was in progress her husband was released from prison to meet Ben-Gurion who told him that he was a "living victim of the state", and pleaded with him not to reveal orders he was given by his superiors lest this implicate the cabinet and the general staff, and that he was promised an early release and reinstatement. The PM offered Malinki a very important post: security officer of the new, top secret nuclear plant at Dimona, in the Negev. Malinki talked about a message he had received from Ben-Gurion, in which he had been requested to maintain silence in return for being granted a pardon. In spite of the special treatment he had received, Malinki remained until his death in 1978 very bitter at the fact of having been brought to trial in the first place and having been made a scapegoat for the state's plans toward the Israeli Arabs. The attack against Egypt was also exploited to carry out another mass expulsion of Israeli Arabs across the northern border into Syria. This episode, involving the expulsion of 2,000 - 5,000 inhabitants of the two villages Krad al-Ghannamah and Krad al-Baqqarah, to the south of Lake Hulah, was revealed by Yitzhak Rabin in his "Service Notebook". Rabin was the Commanding Officer of the Northern Command at the time.”
http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/php/event.php?eid=149

This most infamous massacre was perpetrated by the Israeli military in execution of the most dramatic expulsion plan of 'Israeli Arabs', the secret 'Operation Hafarferet'. The essence of this secret plan, revealed for the first time on 25 October 1991 by the Hebrew newspaper Hadashot, was to expel the Arab inhabitants of the 'Little Triangle' (over 40,000 Israeli Arab citizens), apparently to Jordan. Hadashot established that the slaughter was carried out against the background of military plan devised by the Israeli army on the eve of the 1956 war.

On 29 October 1956, the day the Israeli army launched its attack on Egypt in the south, the Israeli Border Police carried out a large massacre in the Israeli Arab village of Kafr Qassim, in the Little Triangle bordering the West Bank. Ostensibly, the cause of this extensively documented massacre was the breaking of a curfew by the victims, who were not aware that a curfew had been imposed on their village and neighbouring Arab communities.

The battalion [brigade] commander in charge of imposing the curfew [Shadmi] told the unit commander [Malinki] that the curfew must be extremely strict. When Malinki asked what was to happen to a man returning from his work outside the village, without knowing about the curfew, who might well meet the Border Police units at the entrance to the village, Shadmi replied: "I don't want any sentimentality" and "That's just too bad for him." Only 30 minutes separated the announcement of the curfew from its harsh enforcement, and the villagers deliberately had been given no cause for the treatment they received. Within an hour of the curfew, between 5 and 6 P.M., 47 villagers returning from work were killed. The 43 killed at the western entrance of Kafr Qassim included seven boys and girls and nine women between the ages of 18 and 61. http://www.kufur-kassem.com/cms/content/view/148/154/1/7/

“At first, the whole affair was kept strictly concealed from the public eye by the sharp censorship. However, a young Israeli journalist, fluent in the Arabic language, Latif Dori, a correspondent of the organ of the United Workers' Party Mapam, which at the time was a coalition partner in the Labor led Ben-Gurion Government, got wind of the horrible affair. He succeeded to enter Kufr-Qassem illegally in spite of the curfew a few days after the event. At a press conference, held last week in Tel-Aviv by the Arab-Jewish Solidarity Committee with Kufr-Qassem towards the 40th anniversary, Dori stressed that the reports, he at the time heard in the village, made his hair stand on end. He tried to mobilize leading figures from his party, among them cabinet ministers and Knesset members, but these rejected any attempt to break the plot of hushing up the crime.

Dori then turned to two communist Knesset members, Tawfiq Toubi and Meir Vilner. Together with Dori they visited the wounded survivors, kept under close police detention in a Jewish hospital near Petah-Tiqva and listened to their eyewitness reports. MKs Toubi and Vilner turned to the then PM and Defense Minister Ben-Gurion, as well as to the Knesset Presidium to protest and to raise the matter in the Knesset with the intention to set up a neutral public investigation committee, as well as demanding that the officers, responsible for the massacre be put on trial.

When Ben-Gurion and the Knesset bodies refused to act, the communist Knesset members published a pamphlet, relating the blood-curling story of the massacre together with all those eyewitness reports, they heard in the Beilinson hospital. The pamphlet was sent to several thousand personalities, politicians, academics, journalists and trade union leaders. Uri Avneri, then the publisher and editor of the weekly magazine "Olam Haze" popular mainly among the younger generation, today the leading figure in the Gush-Shalom peace bloc, broke the censorship and published the whole story. With this, the taboo about the Kufr-Qassem blood bath was lifted. The government was forced by the public uproar about the affair to bring charges before a military court against the army officers and NCOs responsible for the crime.

In the verdict, convicting the perpetrators of the Kufr-Qassem massacre, District Judge Benjamin Halevy, inter alia ruled, that the claim of having acted according to commands given by their superior officers, should not have been executed, but rejected. He pointed to the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, as well as to some of the trials against Nazi S.S. murderers, who tried to excuse their bloody crimes committed against Jews, Gypsies and political opponents of the Nazi regime by "only having executed commands by their superiors". "Such claims for clemency cannot be accepted by any court of justice in the Jewish State of Israel" judge Benjamin Halevy ruled. Officers and men of the army and other security forces have not only the right, but even the duty to refuse executing commands which represent offenses against human rights and the legal code of the state, the judge stated in his verdict. This ruling was adopted by the Supreme Court and is still in force in the Israeli juridical code. (The Yesh-Gvul army reservists, who refuse to do reserve duties in the occupied territories, regularly call upon the personnel of the army and police forces stationed in the occupied Palestinian territories, to refuse commands, representing illegal acts according to this ruling).

Eleven of the murderers were sentenced to prison terms of 5 to 17 years. But they never have seen a jail from inside. They did their time in a comfortable hotel in Jerusalem. And then, by way of several mitigations, and at the end of being pardoned by the upper military echelon and the then President of Israel, some of them were released soon after, and not one of them spent more than three years in jail. Moreover, the main culprit, Major Malinki, after his having been pardoned and released from jail, was appointed to be the director general of the Dimona Atom reactor, in which, as known today, Israel produces nuclear war devices. The second next in command of the killing squad, Lieutenant Dahan, was later appointed to be the "civil commander" responsible for the Arab minority population of the town Ramle not far from Kufr-Qassem.”
http://www.kufur-kassem.com/cms/content/view/148/154/1/4/


Sunday, 1 November 2009

We are All Palestine

Last week, by coincidence, I came across a blog post about Fuad Mahmoud Nayif Turkman, a 17 years old Palestinian from Ya’bad in occupied Palestine who was killed by the IOF on September 30th, 2009. That morning, Fuad was standing outside his school when he was intentionally run over by an Israeli military jeep. There was a small photo accompanying the article, which I couldn't figure out at first. At closer investigation, it turned out to be a martyr’s funeral, maybe that of Fuad, who was carried by others while surrounded by a sea of yellow flags; the Fateh flags. A tip of a red was also visible, most probably the red of the Palestinian flag. Only upon viewing the picture with some photo applications was I able to see that the martyr was actually wrapped in the Palestinian flag. I know that all political movements do this, i.e. carry their party or movements flag in funerals and marches and demonstrations, but it annoyed me because other than the flag in which the young man was wrapped and that tiny tip of red, not one single Palestinian flag was visible. I searched the internet for other photos of the funeral, for I couldn’t believe that a Palestinian martyr was taken to his final resting place with only one single Palestinian flag. I did find other pictures and in all of them there were the yellow Fateh flags and a couple red DFLP flags, and only one single Palestinian flag visible. And keeping in mind that both Fateh and the DFLP on addition to a few “independents” build the current “PNA”-government makes one wonder what is more important to these people: their political parties or Palestine? I remember a time when although it meant many years in Israeli jails, Palestinian flags were everywhere, especially when a martyr was taken to his/her final resting place. Today, one would have to squeeze one’s eyes in search of a single Palestinian flag among the seas of yellow, green or red. These martyrs are not Fateh’s martyrs nor PFLP’s martyrs nor DFLP’s martyrs nor Hamas’s martyrs, they are OUR martyrs; the martyrs of Palestine, the heroes of Palestine. Every political movement is of course proud of its martyrs, would make a Palestinian wedding out of their funeral, would stand by the families, would distribute posters and pamphlets about them, write about them on its sites and blogs. But we never looked at the posters filling the streets and thought: ah, too bad, he’s a Fateh. Or: I wish he was a PFLP, or a DFLP. Or: good riddance, one Hamsawi less! It seems today, before anything else, every political party makes sure everyone knows the martyr is “theirs”, and I even remember times when 2 movements would “fight over a martyr” each claiming he “belongs” to them, leaving us shaking our heads and wondering what has come of us as a nation. These martyrs are no one’s “property”, they belong to all of us, to Palestine.

Unfortunately, in occupied Palestine there is a growing “culture” of categorizing our heroes, whether it's the martyrs, the prisoners or the activists in general. It doesn’t stop at simply being proud of one’s comrades and brothers in the movements, but a means to promote the movement itself, a PR instrument so to say. This is not a new phenomenon, but it was not so wide-spread and not so clear, to an extent that today the political affiliation is more important than being Palestinian. These heroes sacrificed their lives and their freedom for Palestine, not for Fateh, nor for Hamas, nor for the PFLP nor the DFLP or any of the rest. Also, “heroes” are “created” at every corner and every turn. Every party, movement or initiative promotes itself through some of its members and affiliates, giving them a wreath of heroism, while forgetting or actually ignoring the thousands of other Palestinians who get killed, arrested, tortured, injured, get their homes demolished, their olive trees uprooted. These heroes remain anonymous; nameless Palestinians fighting mostly silently to survive the Zionist brutality. Sometimes you find a name to the face near a demolished home or a burned up olive field, but often it remains: “2 Palestinians were killed by the IOF“, “7 Palestinians were arrested”, or “52 Palestinians became homeless after house demolitions”. It is as if today’s slogan is: only members and affiliates counts and the rest can starve, so join us to feed your kids or to get your suffering heard!

Growing up, we too had our heroes. These were Palestinians who, regardless of their political affiliation, were sincere in their fight for a free Palestine and worked solely towards achieving that goal. Among others, our heroes included the martyrs, the people who made the ultimate sacrifice for Palestine. We would distribute their posters everywhere, would hang these posters on our bedrooms walls, would celebrate their eternal life for they are alive and will continue to stay alive carved in the collective national memory of Palestinians as long as there are Palestinians walking this earth. These were and still are the heroes of the Palestinian people, regardless of their political affiliation. There is no Palestinian, whether in occupied Palestine or in the Diaspora, who doesn't know Ghassan Kanafani, Dalal Al-Mughrabi, Naji Al-Ali, Lina Al-Nabulsi, and many many others more. We refer to them when we talk about Palestine, we sing about them, we write about them and we add their photos to our facebook account, to our twitter account and to our blogs and sites. These heroes are not Fateh’s heroes, nor PFLP’s heroes nor DFLP’s heroes, they are OUR heroes; the heroes of Palestine. Then there are a few of our leaders, and I don't mean here the leaders who are only good for speaking, corruption, stealing the funds of the Palestinian people, or selling out the Palestinian rights, but those leaders who kept loyal to their principles till the very end. Those leaders who refused to exchange Palestine for a “Minister” post or any other post in an imaginary “authority” for a country that is under occupation and is being eaten up by that occupation. And keeping in mind the huge sacrifices of the Palestinian people, those honest loyal leaders were astonishingly few. To me personally, the heroism of these leaders emerged out of the fact that they represented a whole nation, and not themselves, and refused to let themselves and their principles were dragged to auction houses to be sold to the highest bidder.

Our lives as Palestinians living under the brutal Israeli military occupation are full of heroes. My early childhood heroes were several, and besides the odd non-Palestinian hero, they were mostly Palestinians. One of my first heroes was Lina Al-Nabulsi. Lina was a 15 year old pupil who was shot dead by the IOF in cold blood on 15.05.1976. In our bedroom we had that well-known poster of Lina by Suleiman Mansour, lying on the ground with blood visible beneath her head, where the Israeli bullets had hit her. She was alone in that meadow and one could see from the sunset that it was getting dark. As a child, this lonely girl, bleeding to death or actually dead, lying alone in a meadow, had a great effect on me. On the one hand, I honoured Lina so much and identified with her. Lina was the Palestinian girl who could be any one of us. We were all Linas in the making. We could get shot by the IOF on the way to school, on the way back home from school or from visiting friends, while sitting in our classroom, standing by the window at home, or while playing in the garden or in the narrow alleys of the refugee camp. When she was murdered in cold blood, Lina was doing nothing, she didn't shoot at the IOF, she didn't throw stones at them, she didn't shout at them or fight with them. She was just on her way back home. The Zionists claimed after her murder that there had been a demonstration earlier that day where Palestinian pupils had thrown stones at the IOF soldiers. Thus, the Zionists actually admitted that they executed Lina in cold blood, for she was killed hours after the demonstration was over. Did they follow her for hours and then shoot her? Or did they just search the alleys of the Old City of Nablus for any Palestinian youth in school uniform so they can punish him/her and make an example out of him/her for other Palestinian pupils wishing to demonstrate against the brutal occupation? And even if we assume that Lina was at the demonstration, does throwing stones at fully-armed Israeli soldiers justify killing Palestinian children?

On the other hand, Lina caused me not a few nightmares and sleepless nights as a child. The poster was exactly opposite my bed and whenever I woke up, Lina was the first person I saw, and whenever I would lie down to sleep, Lina was the last person I would see. Some nights I would stay awake all night long, watching Lina and thinking about her and what her life would have been like in a Palestine free of Zionists; for her life was very much mine: Two Palestinian pupils; one killed by the IOF on the way to her home while maybe thinking about her life, and the other lying in bed in the middle of the night, watching Lina’s poster and thinking about how life would look like without the Israeli occupation and how many Lina’s were yet to be killed for the sake of the Zionists entity, and wondering how long I had before I was another Lina in a poster on someone’s wall. The good thing about these sleepless nights is that I would spend the night reading. If my parents were still awake and sitting in the living room, I would sneak close enough to get enough light to allow me to read, without them noticing me and sending me back to bed. I would sit on the floor in a corner and read until I was either discovered by my parents and sent back to bed or fell asleep and found myself the next morning in my bed. So, again, the good things is, I did a lot of reading during those sleepless nights. Lina was not only my childhood hero, she was a hero to thousands of Palestinians and she still is. Years after her murder on the hands of the Zionist terrorists, we still mention her when we talk about Palestine, we still sing her song and we still buy that poster and hang it on our bedroom walls. She is one of Our Living Dead

Lina’s song, “Fi al Daffa” (in the (West) Bank), was written by Hasan Daher and performed by Ahmad Kaboor:
Lina was a child making her future
Lina fell, but her blood was singing, was singing ....
For the angry crucified body
For Jerusalem, Yafa, and Jericho
For the standing trees in Gaza
For the riotous river in Jordan
For the angry body in the (West) Bank
Oh, Pulse of the (West) Bank, don’t be subside, declare it a revolution
Destroy your chains, make your flesh the bridge for return
Let my homeland be free, let my occupier leave, let my occupier leave....

This brings me to another group of my childhood heroes; the singers and musicians and dancers who sang and danced for Palestine. These were many and they accompanied me, like most Palestinians, from early childhood. Even today, so far away from Palestine, people like Marcel Khalifeh, Ahmad Kaboor, Al ‘Ashiqeen, Al Funoun, Fairouz and many others, bring me back to Palestine, back to my childhood, back to the best days of my life, back to my family, to my friends, to all those who are still there in Palestine and to those who are everywhere and to those whose body has become a part of Palestine, and back to the best and most cherished of my memories. We all memorize their songs, sing them during marches, sit-ins, demos, weddings and funerals. Before the wedding halls, the cake and some “romance singer” became the fashion, people celebrated weddings the Palestinian way. The wedding would last 3 nights of Palestinian folklore and national music and dances. I had the luck to witness these weddings several time, and each time reminded me what a great people we are and what a great culture we have. We used to sing to show our solidarity, our protest and our pride. One time, a group of pupils at my old school decided to hold a sit-in in protest against Israeli terrorism. I don’t remember what massacre or crime the Israelis committed at the time, but I remember how we went to the sports hall and sat there, refusing to go back to classes. This was something rare at Schmidts, a strict German private school, but we managed to stay put and when the Palestinian headmistress came and tried breaking our protest, we sang: Ya Thalam Is Sijni Khayem (Oh darkness of the prison set up, we love the darkness. There is nothing after the night but the dawn of glory to rise). She didn’t say anything more and just left. I believe it was only the power of that song that made the headmistress leave us to our protest, and anyone knowing that headmistress would know what I’m talking about. I remember one particular incident during the first Intifada when I was in Dheisheh and wanted to visit a friend who lived on the other end of the refugee camp. On the way there, I could practically hear the same song “Unadeekum” coming from every house I passed. It wasn’t unusual at the time, for almost every Palestinian would tune in to listen to “Al-Quds” radio, which aired Palestinian national and folklore songs the whole day.

I remember an incident as a child when I was at a cousin’s house. She had recently given birth to a baby girl and lived in the small house neighbouring ours. Her husband was locked up inside Israeli jails at the time. I remember the tiny house almost empty of any furniture, except for a few mattresses here and there. They had practically nothing. She had given me a piece of bread and told me to sit on the mattress in one of the rooms while she cleaned the house. Every now and then she would come and check on me, and when she noticed how bored I was, she took me to a tiny room, some kind of storage room, with boxes filled with books. She searched inside, chose one book and told me to go back to the mattress and read the book while she finished her work. I don't remember the name of the book, but I do remember seeing it for the first time and that we didn't have one like it in our library at home. It had lots of pictures, was in Arabic and was about Palestine, about the Zionists, the Great Revolt and the 3 Akka prison martyrs. I went through the pictures and I saw a photo of a letter sent from one of the martyrs to his family before he was killed. It was such a sad letter that I wished I could tear that paper and take it away so I can have the letter with me all the time, but I didn’t dare do that. In discussions and otherwise, it is often that Zionists & Co claim that there was never a “Palestine” and that the fight for a “Palestinian state” only began in the 1960’s when, according to their lies, Arafat invented the Palestinian identity. I wonder then how they would explain, among others, the “Buraq Revolution of 1929”, or the riots of 1933 against British pro-Zionist policies or the “Great Revolt of 1936”. The fight against the Zionization of Palestine began with the first Zionist stepping foot on Palestine and claiming it to be the land of Zion. The British Mandate authority encouraged Zionist occupation of Palestine, supported them and worked on fulfilling their dream of creating a homeland for the Zionist in Palestine. Not much different from today, the Zionist terror organizations, the antecedents of the terrorist IOF, used to raid Palestinian towns and villages, attack schools and coffee shops, kill civilians indiscriminately and then go and cry: the Arabs are attacking us. While ignoring the Zionist terror and blaming the Palestinians for the bloodshed, the mandate authority helped arm the Zionists and train them, later to become itself a target of these terrorist groups. The Palestinians were left with one choice; to fight for their rights and their independence and their homeland. Clashes between Palestinians and Zionists ended with the Mandate police mostly killing or arresting Palestinian demonstrators.

During one such incident, clashes erupted between Palestinians and Zionists on 16.08.1929 and lasted for a couple of weeks. The clashes started in Jerusalem, when on 14 and 15.08.1929 groups of militant Jewish groups gathered in Jerusalem and organized marches during which Palestinians were attacked, insulted and their property destroyed. When the marchers reached Al-Buraq Wall, which is part of the Al-Haram Ash-Sharif, they claimed it was theirs and tried to seize it by erecting the Zionist flag and singing the national Zionist anthem. Palestinians from all over Palestine gathered to protect their religious sites. The demonstrations continued the following days and what later became known as the Al-Buraq Revolution spread to the rest of Palestine, mainly in Jerusalem, Haifa, Yafa and Safad, and led to hundreds of deaths from both sides. The British High Commissioner at the time blamed the Palestinians for what happened and ignored the fact that the Zionists were responsible for killing Palestinian civilians, destroying their homes and destroying and burning Palestinian property. To please the Zionists, as is the case today, it was the victims who were punished. The mandate police arrested hundreds of Palestinians, and 26 of them were sentenced to death by hanging (14 from Safad, 11 from Hebron and 1 from Yafa). Upon public uproar and Arab protests, the decision was changed to life imprisonment with the exception of 3 Palestinians who were to be executed. These were: Fuad Hijazi (26 years old from Safad), Mohammad Jamjoum (28 years old from Hebron) and Ata Al-Zeir (35 years old from Hebron). The execution took place on the morning of 17.06.1930, the Red Tuesday, at the Akka prison. They had spent their last night singing the famous song: Ya Thalam Is Sijni Khayem (Oh darkness of the prison set up, we love the darkness. There is nothing after the night but the dawn of glory to rise). Before their execution, Mohammad and Ata asked for Henna to paint their hands following the Hebron custom of painting the hands of bridegrooms on the day of their wedding. They were also allowed to see visitors who tried to console the young men. Mohammad told the visitors: Thank God it is us unworthy ones who are dying for our homeland and not the worthy men whose efforts and services will benefit our homeland. The three were to be executed one after the other with one hour difference between each execution. Fuad, the youngest, was first to be executed at 8 am. Ata was supposed to be second, but Mohammed asked to be executed first, and when the executioner refused he rushed and put the rope around his neck. At 10 am when it was time for Ata to be executed, he asked to be executed without handcuffs, but the executioner refused, so Ata broke the chains. The 3 martyrs were allowed each only one final message to their families. In these letters, the 3 told their families, particularly their mothers, not to cry and not to be sad, for they are not dead, but are bridegrooms. They asked that Palestinians should commemorate the 17th of June as a day for the blood spilled for Palestine. Fuad said: if the execution of us three shakes the English nightmare on the Arab nation, then let tens of thousands like us be executed to end this nightmare completely. After their death, the great Palestinian poet Ibrahim Touqan immortalized the 3 martyrs in his poem the Red Tuesday. Outside the Akka fortress, a Zionist plaque on the history of the prison mentions nothing of these martyrs or any other Palestinian victims. But despite Israel’s efforts to delete Palestinian suffering and existence, the 3 heroes have become part of the Palestinian national collective memory; they are the living amongst many who are dead and don't know it.

One of the first books I ever read was “the Children of Ghassan Kanafani”. It was a small collection of some of Ghassan Kanafani’s short stories. Being written for children, the tiny booklet was written in a simple language and even had a few drawings by Burhan Karkutly. I was affected by the stories and impressed by the drawings. Rarely did I enter a house that didn’t have at least one or two of Kanafani’s books. At our own house library we had almost all his books, and I remember that the one of the first times I felt I could discuss politics with some my classmates, who often seemed to come from another galaxy far away from Sawahreh and Dheisheh, was when by coincidence during rehearsals at the school theatre, the name “Returning to Haifa” was mentioned. A classmate of mine and I realized that we’ve both read that book and others of Kanafani’s and started naming his books and which ones we’ve already read and what we thought of them. Another of my heroes was actually discovered by Kanafani. As children, we used to spend the holidays in Dheisheh refugee camp. Once a week, I believe it was a Thursday, those family members present would gather in the living room after breakfast. Then we would hear knocks on the door, and one of my uncles would go to answer the door. He would return after a few minutes with a newspaper. It was the same ritual every time. The first thing we all looked for in the newspaper was the caricature of Naji El-Ali. I believe most Palestinian families did the same. In their work, Kanafani and Al-Ali represented all Palestine and connected Palestinians in occupied Palestine with those in the Diaspora. Through the stories and the caricatures, both said what many of us wanted to say. They spoke of the Palestinians, us, those in occupied Palestine who stand steadfast in our homeland, and of those Palestinians in the Diaspora, who still hold the key and have only one Qibla: Palestine. They talked of the plight of the Palestinians, their struggle for their rights, self determination and freedom from the brutal Israeli occupation, of their suffering on the hands of the Zionist oppressors. They addressed the corrupt Palestinian leaders and the defeatist Arab regimes.

Their story is a typical Diaspora Palestinian story; that of the wandering Palestinian, thrown out of one place to another because of his political activism, because he dares talk openly about Palestine, because he dares dream of return, because he is Palestinian. This wandering Palestinian is under continuous observation wherever he is, he is not allowed to settle down, live a normal life. He is treated as if he were a cancer that should be removed, when in fact it was this wandering Palestinian who helped built many of the region’s countries. This wandering Palestinian is the teacher, the doctor, the engineer, the writer, the poet, the artist, the architect. He is always reminded that he has no place in this or that country, he is not welcome. But it never mattered; because for the wandering Palestinian there is the one and only home, the place where he can finally settle and make home, the place where his ancestors lived before they were kicked out by the Zionists, the place to which he holds the deeds and the keys, the only place where the wandering Palestinian would be accepted. For the wandering Palestinian there is only one destination: Palestine. Their work was published in many counties, and in some even censored. And despite receiving death threats because of what they use their pens and brushes as weapons, they went on with the fight for Palestine till the last breath. Both were assassinated to stop them from fighting for a free Palestine; a Palestine free from the Zionists, free from the corrupt and treacherous Palestinian leaderships, free from opportunist Arabs. They lost their lives, but they were never silenced, for their voices still speak to us through their work. They were two Palestinian giants who fought for a Palestine for those who truly deserve the name Palestinian, and they died as giants to become immortal.

In addition to many other famous Palestinian heroes, there are the thousands of unknown Palestinian heroes. Those who work their lands and protect them despite the continuous threats and attacks from the IOF and Jewish fanatics, those who go to school or to work every day despite the Israeli terror facing them at every corner and every street, those who are steadfast on their lands, in their homes and refuse to leave and be made refugees, those who are struggling against the Nazi-like and fascist methods used by the Israeli prison authority, those who despite handicap continue to roll their wheelchairs in marches, those who work to inform others about Palestine and expose Israeli lies and propaganda, those who get beaten and arrested at checkpoint, in front of their schools, in their homes at the middle of the night when no cameras or videos are around, those whose houses are demolished to make place for new illegal settlements and Jewish-only roads, those who after the Israeli bulldozers have left collect the rabble and build a new house, those and many more who defy the IOF threats and despite daily Israeli terror are steadfast on this land for the land is Palestinian and will remain so till the last drop of Palestinian blood. These are also our heroes, our unknown heroes whose stories we rarely hear, whose names we rarely know. They go on with their lives despite the hardships and the occupation, despite the political bankruptcy, corruption and betrayal surrounding them, and despite the growing “categorization of activism” that is even making international support conditional to what category one belongs to.

During my last visit to Palestine, I went with my brother and two of my uncles to visit the Martyrs cemetery in Artas near Dheisheh. During the First Intifada, whenever there was curfew or siege, martyrs from Dheisheh refugee camp would be buried here. I used to come here with friends and I remember bringing some foreign activists there too. Just down the road, a new martyrs’ cemetery had been erected for those killed by the IOF during the second Intifada and after it. As I went up the steps leading to the cemetery, I felt like entering a holy shrine. I was in Germany during the second Intifada and the invasion of 2002, but like most Palestinians, I followed up what was going on and my daily thoughts were there in occupied Palestine. Everywhere my eyes looked I saw tombstones with martyrs’ names, some of which I recognized from news reports or from stories told by family or friends. They all lay resting here, those who were killed while protecting their families, their homes and their towns, cities or refugee camps and those who were killed inside their homes, the mosques and the churches and taken away from amongst their beloved ones. The cemetery was clean, flower beds were neatly planted and olive trees scattered within the cemetery spread their branches to give shadow to those lying to sleep within the bosom of our mother Palestine. The tombs were all decorated with wreaths and flowers. And I didn’t miss the empty graves that stood open and ready for those yet to come. Despite daily tragedies, and despite the daily terror of the IOF, those lying here were never forgotten, and were visited on a regular basis. Those were the sons and daughters of Palestine. Here, no political affiliation mattered any more, they were again truly brothers and sisters, killed by our mutual enemy: the Zionists. I walked among the graves and read what was written on the tombstones. Here the brutality of the occupation and the injustice inflicted on us was clearer than anywhere else. These were mostly young people, and on some tombstones there were photos on the martyrs placed by families and friends. They were mostly laughing or smiling. On the tombstones, one could read the name of the martyr, the date of their martyrdom, some Suras from the Quran, and on some a few lines describing the bravery of the martyr or lines from revolutionary poems left by friends or comrades. Then, I came across one tombstone and stood reading. Following the name of the martyr was one sentence: the son of Hamas. I shook my head and wondered: Why? Why did they have to add that? Wasn’t he a son of Palestine, regardless of religion and affiliation? He died for Palestine and not for Hamas or for Fateh. But don’t think that the others are any better.

It makes one really furious to watch what has been done to Palestine’s martyrs, to our martyrs. Among others, I wanted to write about the 3 Palestinian students killed by the IOF at Birzeit university campus late 1986. This was yet another murder carried out by the IOF in which once again unarmed Palestinian pupils or students were the target. I remember the cold winter day early December in 1986, when at school I heard about the IOF murdering at least 3 Palestinian students from Birzeit university and injuring many others. The IOF had been posting checkpoints outside the university campus and preventing Palestinian students from reaching their classes, thus depriving them of their right to free movement and their right to education. The students decided to hold a sit-in in protest, to which IOF soldiers replied by storming the campus and firing live ammunition, killing the three students and injuring many. That day I went on my first politically motivated hunger strike, for I used to go on hunger strikes for a few hours whenever I had a skirmish with my parents, and although these “tiny” hunger strikes were a demonstration of my protest, they were not of a political nature. I decided not to eat a thing the whole day to protest the killing of these students who had done nothing. I did fast the whole day and my parents respected my decision not to eat a single thing. I didn’t remember the martyrs’ names anymore, although for a long time they were engraved in my memory, so I searched for them in the internet, and I truly wish I didn't. The minute I saw their names in the search result I immediately recognized them among all the other names that appeared as well. But, I could only find two names, although I distinctly remember that for sure at least 3 were killed that day. Anyway, I found only two, and they were all on the Hamas sites and forums. These sites introduced the two martyrs as being the first two martyrs of the Hamas movement. This is of course something I don't remember, and if it was said so at the time I don't think many cared much about the political affiliation of this or that martyr, they were all the children of Palestine. And because I remembered that there were more than 2 martyrs I continued the search for the third martyr, who most probably was not Hamas and thus not mentioned, unless of course, my memory betrayed me and they were only 2. The search did lead me to find a UN document about a discussion on Israel’s human rights violations which mentions 3 Birzeit students being killed on that very day. These were: Jawad Abu Salmieh, Saeb Abu Dahab and Kamal Radhi.

Well, what made me furious was the fact that during my internet search, I would give several terms such as martyr, Birzeit, students, killed, etc… and would get many search result, depending on which combination of terms I used. I searched both in English and in Arabic. I came upon several Fateh and Hamas forums. Many of the sites I checked would be discussing “their martyrs”, and only “their martyrs”, as if these martyrs were registered trademarks of these political parties. Some were full with insults, abuse and attacks, not against the Zionists as one would expect, but the “new Palestinian enemy”. Fathawis were calling Hamsawis: ZioHamsawis, and Hamsawis were calling Fathawis: FatehZionists. And each party was listing what they called the “massacres and crimes committed” by the other. The discussions, more likely the attacks, on these sites reminded me very much of the discussions on Zionist & Co sites; they know they are wrong, they know that facts speak against them, they know they can’t hide the truth forever, so they resort to the only weapon they have: lies, personal attacks and insults. I find such forums contribute to the division amongst Palestinians at a time when unity is much needed. They, whether knowingly or not, contribute and assist the Zionist occupation and provide Zionists & Co with food for their lies and propaganda. In one German report on the Palestinian internal fight, one Fateh member said that Israel was “kinder” and “better” than Hamas. This report was aired on one of the main German TV stations, watched by millions. It would not have surprised me if on the next day, Zionists & Co would have posted that report on all their sites and wrote: Look, Palestinians finally admit we are kind and better than others among them! Did Hamas ethnically cleanse Palestine? Did Hamas commit one massacre after the other? Does Hamas have over 11,000 Palestinian prisoners locked up? Did Hamas kill tens of thousands of Palestinian and injure tens of thousands over the years? And the list goes on and on. And by the way, this wasn’t the first time that a Fateh affiliate would come on German TV and speak “nicely” of Israel in comparison to “Hamas”. I even got feedback from Germans who also found the behaviour of these Fateh affiliates disgusting, especially at a time when Israel is still occupying Palestine, killing Palestinians and besieging Gaza. No matter how deep my conflict with this or that Palestinian Palestine, how dare one Palestinian for one second claim Israel is “kinder” or “better” than another Palestinian movement? And we all know what Fateh’s problem with Hamas is, so don’t claim they are “killers” and I don’t know what, it only makes you look like real Zionists. This “fight” between the movements is transmitted to their younger affiliates. On internet forums, facebook discussions, yahoo groups one comes across so much nonsense that is truly alarming. They fight over how many were killed during clashes between both and forget those killed daily by the IOF. They fight on who has more prisoners in the other’s jails, and forget the thousands inside Israeli jails. They fight over who has the “legitimate right” to “rule us” and forget that this “PNA-authority” is a charade, a limited self-rule not much different from the Village leagues which Palestinians boycotted, and most important, they forget that we are under occupation. They fight on who is “more Palestinian” and forget or ignore the real enemy, and just a reminder for it seems many have forgotten, our enemy is Zionism. And each time I come across such nonsense, I wonder: do these people care about Palestine? Does Palestine still exist for them? At the same time, I did come across sites and forums, both Fateh or Hamas, that were truly Palestinian so to say, with no attacks on others, no hate, but sites for all Palestinians. And when the odd members would write a comment attacking this or that group, he would be lectured and stopped by the administrators and other members.

During the first Intifada, we used to carry Palestinian flags proudly, although being caught with one meant years in Israeli jails, or even worse: being shot at. Remember the many Palestinians who were killed by the IOF while holding the Palestinian flag, or those killed while trying to raise the Palestinian flag on the roofs of buildings, on electricity masts? Today, if you come across a Palestinian demonstration in the occupied territories, and they are rare nowadays thanks to the “PNA”, you would have to squint your eyes in search of a Palestinian flag amongst the seas of yellow or green or red, and sometimes even you search in vain for it. Yes, it is true that people have carried the flags of their parties often in demonstrations, but the dominance was for the Palestinian flag; it was the flag held in the first row, it was the flag held highest, it was the flag held most! We used to shout: Bil Roh Bil Dam Nafdeek Ya Falasteen! (with our souls, with our blood we defend you O Palestine!). Today, one mostly hears slogans for Fateh or Hamas and giving one’s soul for this movement or that. It seems some have exchanged a country for a political party. The categorizing of Palestinians, whether martyrs, prisoners, activists or otherwise doesn't stop at stamping Palestinians and “limiting” them to this or that political party, movement or initiative or whatsoever, it goes further. Some activists are classified as “peace activists” or “non-violence activists”, as if the rest of the Palestinian activism was “non-peaceful” or “violent”. Is this the way you want to categorize Palestinians who fight for your freedom? They are Palestinians activists FULL STOP! It is not us Palestinians, fighting for our legitimate rights and our freedom, who set these categories, but those who will only support us if we fit in with their definition of activism. We used to have one category for all those who were active against the brutal Israeli occupation: Palestinian. Today, Palestinians get killed by the IOF, others get arrested and end up a number in a news article, or in some cases you get to read a few extra lines about them. Other chosen few get killed or arrested and you get a full coverage on them and within a few days they become household names. You read and hear so much about them, about their activism, about their lives and their families, as if the others don’t have a family or didn’t have a life. Some groups want so much to promote themselves and please their American and Europeans friends and “funders”, that they are willing to classify Palestinian fight for liberation. They think they have monopoly over Palestine and over “activism”. Some might agree with and work for a Fateh emirate in the occupied West Bank or a Hamas emirate in the occupied Gaza Strip or a “semi-state” in the occupied Palestinian Territories, but we want a Palestine, a free Palestine.

On the day of their execution, the 3 Palestinian martyrs of the Akka prison: Fuad Hijazi, Mohammad Jamjoum and Ata Al-Zeir wrote letters to their families, friends, the Palestinians and the Arabs nations. In one letter they said:
“Now we are at the doors of eternity, offering our lives to save the sacred homeland , for dear Palestine, we plead to all Palestinians not to forget our spilled blood and our souls that will fly in the sky of this beloved country, and to remember that we have willingly given ourselves and our skulls to be a basis for building our nation's independence and freedom, and that the nation remain persistent in its union and its struggle for the salvation of Palestine from the enemies, and to keep its lands and not to sell one inch of it to the enemies, and that its determination not be wavered and not be weakened by threat and intimidation, and to strive until it gains victory... The Arabs in all Arab countries and Muslims have to save Palestine from its suffering and assist it with all their strength… Now, after we have seen from our nation and our country and our people this national spirit and national enthusiasm, we welcome death with complete pleasure and joy and willingly place the rope of the gallows, the swing of the champions, around our necks in sacrifice to you, Palestine, and finally, please write on our graves: “to the Arab nation full independence or callous death and in the name of the Arabs we live and in the name of Arabs we die.”

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