Text by David Shulman
Photographs by Margaret Olin
He was like one of those rocky hills in South Hebron, a living, breathing, feeling mass of sunlight, rain, wind, earth, and stone. Though he wasn’t all that tall, he always dwarfed everyone around him. The soldiers and the border police were afraid of him, because he told them the truth and gave no quarter.
He was unafraid. He hated violence. Israel hurt him into fiery protest—everywhere where wrong was being done, he was there, that is, everywhere in South Hebron. Countless times he faced the soldiers down and shamed them with his words. He was the father of our good friend, ‘Id. I’ve known him for close to twenty years. I thought he was indestructible. I was wrong. They got him. He died a particularly horrible death at the hands of his enemies. His name was Hajj Suleiman Hadhalin.
I last saw him about a month ago, at Tuba, where, as so often, the soldiers had arrested him. He had turned up to harangue them for what they were doing to the people of Tuba. They had him sitting, handcuffed, for some hours in an army jeep with a soldier. The soldier was sick and at one point passed out. Hajj Suleiman, true to character, managed somehow to catch the soldier’s head and hold it in his hands before it collided with the metal dashboard.
Palestinian Administrative Detainees Declare Boycott of Israeli Military Courts
In 2021, the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime deployed extraordinary violence against the Palestinian people, a key feature of which has been the expansion of the mass arbitrary arrests and detention of Palestinian men, women, and children. Under this carceral framework, Israeli occupation authorities have particularly increased their reliance on administrative detention, a procedure in which detainees are held without charge or trial based on “secret information” for an indefinite time. By the end of 2021, the Israeli military commander in the West Bank region issued 1595 administrative detention orders, including the renewal of previous orders and issuing new ones.
The Israeli occupation has increasingly employed administrative detention as an arbitrary, coercive, and punitive measure of torture against hundreds of Palestinian detainees. Such expansion comes amid and in parallel with the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime’s systematic harassment campaign against Palestinian civil society, most recently with the criminalization of six leading Palestinian civil society organizations (CSOs) in October 2021. Throughout, the Israeli military judicial system plays an integral role in facilitating the expansion of administrative detention, and more broadly, in sustaining and feeding the establishment of a comprehensive Israeli apartheid apparatus over the occupied territories.
Israeli occupation authorities increasingly rely on administrative detention to muzzle Palestinian human rights defenders, student and political activists, and target children. Often, administrative detention is leveraged to punish Palestinians undertaking outstanding hunger strikes in protest of their administrative detention, including Hisham Abu Hawash, or to harass further and coerce released Palestinian political prisoners, as is the most recent case with lawyer Bashir Khairi. In 2021, six Palestinian children, three Palestinian women, and eight Palestinian Legislative Council members were held under administrative detention.
On 20 December 2021, Palestinian administrative detainees, 500 in total, announced their collective and comprehensive boycott of Israeli military courts, to begin 1 January 2022, under the campaign ‘Our Decision is Freedom… No to Administrative Detention.‘ This comes in light of the developments mentioned above, which represent a dangerous approach by the Israeli occupation to repress all facets of Palestinian life and struggle for liberty. The boycott includes Israeli military courts at all levels, including courts of first instance, appellate courts, and the Israeli civil High Court. Accordingly, Palestinian administrative detainees will refuse to participate in court procedures and hearings; their legal counsel will no longer attend or participate in the court procedures on their behalf.
Systems of colonialism & militarism destroy both human rights + the environment. This series depicts the intersection between the Palestinian human rights movement and the environmental and climate justice movements. Learn from Palestinians’ experiences living under Israeli apartheid in a part of the world warming faster than the global average. Understand how environmental justice concepts such as climate vulnerability, green colonialism, environmental racism, and extractive colonialism impact Palestinians.
At 3am last night, Israeli security forces raided the Salhiya family house in Sheikh Jarrah, arresting and injuring multiple family members. After the family – who have lived in the house since 1956 – refused to be expelled, Israeli troops barricaded then stormed their home. By dawn, only the rubble remained.
Over 1500 Palestinians currently live under the threat of home demolitions in occupied Jerusalem. In May of last year, Sheikh Jarrah was the flashpoint from which began the most significant period of protest in Palestine for a generation, now known as the Unity Intifada.
Israel believes that now, whilst the world’s attention is turned away, it can expel the Sheikh Jarrah families one by one. But Palestinians are coming together to resist this threat of ethnic cleansing, just as they did last May.
We must support their grassroots resistance by demanding our own Governments hold Israel accountable for its actions that amount to the crime of apartheid. It’s time to mobilise for Palestine once more. In addition to the emergency protest taking place on Friday, we have organised a Twitterstorm.
JOIN OUR TWITTERSTORM
Lital Salhiyeh, whose family home in Sheikh Jarrah was demolished on Wednesday morning, has no idea where she and her family will go now.
The remains of the Salhiyeh family home that was demolished by Israeli authorities, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, January 19, 2022. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)
Israeli security forces demolished the home of the Salhiyeh family and forcibly expelled its residents in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah during the early hours of the morning on Wednesday.
Police raided the house around 3:15 a.m., violently kicking out the family and activists who had arrived to defend the family home. According to Palestinian and Israeli activists who were at the scene, officers cut electricity to the house, before using stun grenades and arresting 18 people, including members of the Salhiyeh family, Palestinian activists, and five Israeli activists. All of the Israeli activists and some of the Palestinians have been released, while others remain in Israeli custody — including Mahmoud, the family’s father.
Following the expulsion, bulldozers entered and destroyed the family home, where Lital Salhiyeh, her husband Mahmoud, their four children, and Mahmoud’s mother lived. The remains of the home and the family’s belongings, which included photo albums and children’s backpacks, laid strewn out in the rubble.
“All of a sudden we heard booms. I jumped out of bed and turned on the light — but there was no electricity in the house,” Lital told me following the demolition. “I lifted my head, and all I saw around me was hundreds of lights from helmets. It was a terrifying sight.”
Lital, an Israeli Jew who is originally from Rishon LeZion, said she had gone to bed half an hour before police forces burst into her home. Once she heard the booms, she jumped out of bed and began to run. “I was looking for my little daughter Aya, who’s nine years old and was sleeping in the other room with her aunt. I wanted to get to her. A policeman caught me and said, ‘What are you doing?’”
7amleh monitored the hate speech and incitement against Palestinians and Arabs in Hebrew on the Internet during 2021. The results revealed an increase in hate speech towards Arabs by 8% since 2020, as it monitored 620,000 conversations including violent and inciting speech against Arabs. The results show violent speech against Palestinians, Arabs and their representatives further intensified, constituting 11% of overall speech online – an unprecedented rate since 2017.
MRSCP Statement on the Death of Omar Abdulmajeed As’ad in Israeli custody
The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is deeply saddened and outraged by the death of US citizen Omar Abdulmajeed As’ad at the hands of Israeli soldiers.
Mr. As’ad was a Palestinian-American businessman who spent four decades of his life in Milwaukee before retiring with his wife to the Palestinian village of Jiljilya, near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
He was stopped by Israeli solders in the early hours of the morning as he was driving home after visiting family on January 12. According to eyewitness reports, the soldiers forced him from his vehicle, blindfolded, handcuffed and beat him, then dragged him to a nearby construction site where they left him lying face down on the ground in the cold. Mr As’ad, an elderly man who suffered from heart problems, was clearly not a threat to anyone, was never under arrest and had not been accused of any crime.
We send our condolences to Mr.As’ad’s family in the Milwaukee area and in Palestine. Because Israel has repeatedly shown that it is incapable of investigating itself, we call on the US State Department to conduct its own thorough and public investigation into his death, including interviewing the witnesses, in order to ensure some small measure of justice for Mr. As’ad and his family.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has issued a mild statement of concern in this case, as has Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee. We urge them not to stop there but to vigorously pursue this case. We realize that the treatment afforded to Mr. As’ad by Israeli soldiers is no more worthy of condemnation than that routinely handed out to ordinary Palestinians (see for example the recent case of elder Haj Suleiman, who the IDF left fighting for his life and who has now died). Yet our government should have a special responsibility to protect its own citizens regardless of their ethnicity. We urge them to fulfill it.
Happy Martin Luther King Day! I hope it finds you well.
This week, on Friday, Just World Ed will be launching our new podcast series, “The World From Palestine”. In each episode of this ten-week series the Palestinian scholar Yousef Aljamal and I will explore different aspects of the intersection between Palestine’s liberation struggle and other anti-imperialist struggles — throughout history, and until today.
I am particularly excited to work on this podcast with Yousef, given his wide experience of settler colonialisms in many parts of the world including Hawai’i, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Ireland, Algeria, in Palestine (of course!)… and here on Turtle Island.
In 2014 and 2019, he undertook speaking tours of the United States, speaking to super audiences and connecting with Palestinian-rights leaders and activists nationwide. In 2019, he also held good meetings with key members of the U.S. Congress and numerous congressional staffers.
Learn a little more about our new podcast project below…
In the meantime, I also want to tell you about another cutting-edge project that Code Pink is organizing and that Just World Ed is co-sponsoring. This is a webinar, “A Closer Look at China in Africa”, that will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, at 1pm ET.
Palestinian activist Suleiman al-Hathalin dies at Hebron hospital two weeks after police truck ran him over
Suleiman al-Hathalin pictured in a protests against settlements and land confiscation, near Yatta village south of Hebron city in the occupied West Bank, on 15 January 2021 (AFP)
Hathalin was receiving treatment for serious wounds he sustained to the head, chest, abdomen and pelvis at al-Mizan hospital in Hebron in the occupied West Bank, where he was pronounced dead this morning.
The 75-year-old activist and community leader from Masafer Yatta, a collection of Palestinian hamlets in the South Hebron Hills, was run over by an Israeli tow truck on 5 January.
Police arrived in Umm al-Khair village in Masafer Yatta to seize unregistered and allegedly stolen vehicles.
After locals tried to stop the tow trucks, Israeli police fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the crowds.
Fouad al-Hmour, an activist with the popular resistance committee in Masafer Yatta, told Middle East Eye at the time that Suleiman was “standing on the side of the road when the tow truck suddenly veered off the road and drove straight into him”.