America's unmatched globally. However, pound for pound, based on
size, its policies, and regional threat, Israel stands out.
Daily, its crimes against humanity continue. On January 23,
Jerusalem police arrested two Palestinian officials, Khaled Abu
Arafeh and Mohammed Totah.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said both men were wanted for
unspecified "Hamas activities" with no further comment.
Hamas, of course, is Palestine's legitimate government. Israel and
America spuriously call it a terrorist organization. Hamas spokesman
Mushir al-Masri said arresting both men was a "Zionist crime."
Palestine's parliament hasn't functioned since Hamas and Fatah split
Both men were arrested at the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) Sheikh Jarrah offices. For the past 18 months, they
sought refuge there protesting Israel's illegal deportation orders
after their ID cards were revoked.
Abu Arafah served as Hamas minister for Jerusalem affairs. Totah's a
Hamas PLC representative. Months earlier, Hamas legislator Mahmoud
Atoun was arrested. He also sought ICRC refuge.
Hamas parliamentarians are repeatedly targeted. Around two dozen
remain imprisoned. Twenty are uncharged under administrative
detention. At one time, 40 Hamas PLC members were lawlessly
incarcerated for belonging to the wrong party, not any crimes they
On January 19, Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)
Aziz Dweik was arrested for alleged terrorist connections. Despite a
thinly veiled lie, a military court on January 24 ordered him
detained uncharged for six months.
On January 20, lawmaker Khaled Tafesh was arrested and detained at
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned Israel's
actions. It called them "a plan to undermine the results of the
(January 2006) Palestinian legislative elections (and) to abort the
Palestinian reconciliations efforts."
PCHR also called them Fourth Geneva-prohibited collective
punishment. It demanded immediate release of those held, strongly
condemned storming ICRC's office, and said doing so violated
international humanitarian law.
Israel falsely claimed ICRC's office has no diplomatic status,
making it fair game for Israeli lawlessness.
Israel's War on Hamas
On January 25, Jerusalem Post writer Khaled Abu Toameh headlined,
"Israel has declared war on Hamas in West Bank," saying:
In the past few days alone, five Hamas PLC members were arrested.
"Early Tuesday, IDF soldiers arrested Abdel Jabbar Fukaha, a Hamas
legislator, in Ramallah and confiscated documents, a laptop and
mobile phones from his home."
His wife said their son Mujahed was summoned to appear Sunday for
interrogation. After serving a four-month sentence, Fukaha was
released from Israeli prison in February 2011.
"In a related development, Hamas legislators in Tulkarm said on
Tuesday that an Israeli security official phoned them and ordered
them to close their office immediately. Fathi Qarawi and Riad Raddad
said it was the second threat received in the past month."
It's part of an Israeli campaign to destroy Hamas, they believe,
"Israel has declared war on Hamas. But we won’t be deterred and we
will continue to fulfill our duties.”
Hamas leaders believe Israel's trying to sabotage reconciliation
with Fatah and foil planned May parliamentary and presidential
elections. It wouldn't be the first time strong-arm Israeli tactics
subverted Palestinian elections and other legitimate activities.
Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri denounced Israeli's scheme, saying:
"Israel thinks that the arrests will destroy Hamas' chances of
winning the elections. On the contrary, these measures will only
increase (our) popularity."
He also called on human rights organizations to intervene and
pressure Israel to release lawlessly detained “legislators who were
elected by the people in a democratic vote.”
Lawless Home Demolitions, Land Theft and Dispossessions
Among other rogue policies, home demolitions and land theft define
Israeli repression. On January 23, East Anata's bedouin compound was
bulldozed and destroyed for the fifth time.
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) calls it "a
living symbol of resistance to Occupation and the desire for justice
ICAHD's Itay Ephshtain said:
"People are somber, traumatized and grief stricken. Nearly 100
people are out in the elements now on a cold night. Children,
babies, mothers, fathers. Some of us from ICAHD did try to block the
bulldozer, but were beaten back by soldiers."
In fact, Epshtain was personally beaten and sustained minor
Called Beit Arabiya, the site was home to Arabiya Shawemreh, her
husband Salim and seven children. Their home was previously
destroyed four times.
Each time, ICAHD, Palestinians, and international peace activists
rebuilt it. Now it's again gone. On January 23 around 11PM, a
bulldozer accompanied by soldiers arrived. Beit Arabiya as well as
other residential and agricultural structures in Arab al-Jahalin
Bedouin compound were destroyed.
Beit Arabiya initially got a demolition order in 1994. At issue was
failing to get a building permit on their own land. ICAHD Director
Jeff Halper vowed to help Salim and Arabiya rebuild, saying:
"We shall rebuild. We must rebuild forthwith as an act of political
defiance of the occupation and protracted oppression of
"ICAHD is as determined as always to rebuild the home, and endure in
its struggle to bring about justice and peace."
Salim and Arabiya dedicated their home to Rachael Corrie and Nuha
Sweidan. Both women, an American and Palestinian, were murdered
resisting Gaza home demolitions.
Weeks earlier on December 6, The UN Committee on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights called on Israel to cease house demolitions,
forced evictions, and residency revocations.
ICAHD's publication "No Home, No Homeland" highlights the issue. It
estimates about 26,000 Palestinian homes destroyed since June 1967
for "punitive, land clearing/military, and administrative" reasons.
On Occupied Palestinian land, doing so violates international law.
Israel spurns it. As a result, Palestinian suffering continues.
Women and children are especially affected. Forced displacement
further harms them. ICAHD called 2011 a record year.
World leaders turn a blind eye. Israeli officials are green-lighted
to commit crimes with impunity. They take full advantage.
Obama's "Ironclad" Commitment
In his January 24 State of the Union address, Obama highlighted his
unwavering support, saying:
"Our ironclad commitment to Israel's security has meant the closest
military cooperation between our two countries in history."
Among other ways, it's reflected in billions in military aid and
regular increased amounts. In August 2007, Bush increased it by $6
billion over the next decade. Despite budget constraints, Obama
In FY 2012 alone, an additional $236 million will help develop three
Israeli missile programs: Arrow-2, David's Sling, and Arrow 3.
Israel already gets over $3 billion annually, plus unknown add-ons
"If Americans knew" reports that while Israel gets "at least $8.2
million each day in military aid," Palestinians get zero.
A Final Comment
On January 22, London Guardian writer Harriet Sherwood headlined,
"The Palestinian children - alone and bewildered - in Israel's Al
Jalame" Prison, saying:
Young children are physically and verbally abused. It's nightmarish.
Cell 36 and others like it are "where Palestinian children are
locked in solitary confinement for days or even weeks. One
16-year-old" said he'd been isolated for 65 days.
Cells are "barely wider than the thin, dirty mattress that covers
the floor. Behind a low concrete wall is a squat toilet, the stench
from which has no escape in the windowless room. The rough concrete
walls deter idle leaning; the constant overhead light inhibits
Low-quality food arrives through door flaps, depriving children of
human contact. Brutal interrogations break the monotony.
Shackled hands and feet to a chair for hours, they're questioned.
Most often, their alleged "crime" is stone-throwing. Most deny doing
it. Physical and verbal abuse follow. Many face sleep deprivation
exhaustion. "Day after day they are fettered to the chair, then
returned to solitary confinement. In the end, many sign confessions"
in desperation. Later they say they were coerced.
As many as 700 Palestinian children are arrested annually. Some are
10 or younger. Mistreatment is extreme. Emotional trauma results.
According to Nader Abu Amsha, director of Beit Sahour's YMCA
juvenile rehab program:
"(F)amilies think that when (their) child is released, it's the end
of the problem. We tell them (it's only) the beginning. You see
children who are totally broken. It's painful to see the pain of
these children, to see how much they are squeezed by the Israeli
It's more evidence of rogue Israeli lawlessness. Imprisoned
Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti told Maan News that conflict and
abuses will continue until Israel ends occupation and withdraws to
He believes Palestinian national unity and nonviolent resistance
stand the best chance of achieving it.
Barghouti's a prisoner of conscience serving five consecutive life
sentences plus 40 years for wanting to live free. Free or
imprisoned, he symbolizes hope. Supporters hope he'll be freed one
day to lead them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
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