US congresswoman denounces ‘disturbing’ arrests of Palestinian children

Betty McCollum vows to push that US military aid to Israel is not ‘used in any way that violates the rights of any Palestinian’


B’Tselem says Israeli forces arrested five Palestinian children in the West Bank on Wednesday (B’Tselem)

Ali Harb, Middle East Eye, 11 March 2021

US Congresswoman Betty McCollum, a Democrat who has led efforts in Congress to hold Israel accountable for human rights abuses against Palestinians, denounced the arrest of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday. 

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem had reported that five Palestinians aged 8 to 12 had been detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank near the settlement of Havat Maon south of Hebron for picking wild vegetables. 

The group shared video footage of Israeli troops in combat gear pushing visibly terrified Palestinian children into military vehicles. 

At one point, an older child tried to rescue another minor who was being escorted by a soldier only to be yanked away by another officer.

“Seeing the images of heavily armed Israeli soldiers manhandling and detaining these five preteen Palestinian children is extremely disturbing,” McCollum told MEE in an email. 

“Using Israeli soldiers to capture little boys who were reportedly ‘gathering wild vegetables’ in occupied Palestinian land is wrong.”

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ICC launches Palestine war crimes probe


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will likely be scrutinized as part of the ICC’s investigation, branded the court as “anti-Semitic.” (Reuven Castro UPI)

Maureen Clare Murphy, Electronic Intifada, 3 March 2021

The International Criminal Court has opened a formal investigation into war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda confirmed on Wednesday.

Bensouda’s announcement was welcomed as “a historic day in the decades-long Palestinian campaign for international justice and accountability” by Palestinian human rights groups leading those efforts.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will likely be subjected to ICC scrutiny, branded the investigation as “the essence of anti-Semitism.”

The ICC’s announcement of an investigation came less than a month after a panel of judges confirmed that the court’s territorial jurisdiction extends to the Palestinian territories under Israeli military occupation.

In December 2019, Bensouda concluded a lengthy preliminary investigation, stating that criteria for war crimes investigations in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip had been met.

The ICC investigation will cover crimes committed since June 2014, when the situation in Palestine was referred to the international tribunal.

February 10, 2021
Jim Zogby Talks with Human Rights Advocate Issa Amro


Wednesday, February 10, 2021 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m CT

In the months we have been gathering weekly for Coffee & a Column, I have welcomed our substantive conversations each week. I’ve also been thinking about how to expand our community and it is with that in mind that I am excited to share with you the special format for this Wednesday.

We will begin at 2:00 PM with discussion of the two violent acts in the past 20 years that have shaken American democracy: the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01 and the Capitol insurrection on 1/6/21. In “Our Democracy Was at Risk,” I speak about the weaknesses each event exposed in our democracy and the differing actions our leaders took after each, and why.

At 2:30, Issa Amro will join us to discuss the ongoing non-violent protests he is helping lead in opposition to the occupation and Israel’s politically motivated prosecution against him.

An Israeli military judge was set to rule against Issa and as Issa recently said, “we have no choice but to resort to civil disobedience until we win our right to freedom, justice, equality and a life of dignity.” Issa is a critical voice in Palestine and he will be with us to provide the latest on his case and the broader work being done in support of Palestinian human rights.

Please register here to receive the dial-in information for the Zoom call Wednesday, February 10, 2021 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m ET sharp. After you register, you will automatically get the dial-in information for the call.

Regards,

Jim Zogby

Biden should end support for bombing and starvation of Yemen


People run following an explosion at the airport in Aden, Yemen, shortly after a plane carrying the newly formed Cabinet landed on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. No one on board the government plane was hurt but initial reports said several people at the airport were killed. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, The Cap Times, January 25, 2021

For over five years, Yemenis have endured a civil war which has already killed nearly a quarter-million people. Roughly half of those who perished died from war-induced malnutrition, disease and lack of basic services.

Intervening on one side, a Saudi-led and U.S.-supported coalition has used overwhelming military force — including laser-guided bombs and other high-tech weapons supported by our tax dollars — to systematically devastate huge areas of Yemen that their rivals control.

The U.S. has supplied combat ships that are vital to the naval and air blockade presently denying millions of people in Yemen essential food and medicine (90% of Yemen’s food supply is imported).

The U.S. has also directly carried out bombing raids against those it labels “terrorists.” Recently, Congress failed to stop the Trump administration from selling F-35s like those the Air Force wants to station at Truax to the United Arab Emirates, one of the countries bombing Yemen.

As was predicted, famine is now widespread. Two-thirds of Yemenis are hungry and many tens of thousands, especially children, are truly bloated-belly-and-stick-limbs starving. Moderate to severe malnutrition afflicts a quarter of the population, including more than 2 million children.

And now COVID-19 has joined cholera and diphtheria in exponentially compounding their misery.

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UPDATE: Violence and Ethnic Cleansing in South Hebron Hills

One of our members is personally acquainted with these people and provides the following update. Please sign the petition below and consider donating to help both shooting victim Arun Abu Aram and arrested rights activist Sami Huraini.

Palestinian human rights activist Sami Huraini was arrested by Israeli forces during a pre-dawn raid on his home in the West Bank village of At-Tuwani on January 9, just hours after participating in a nonviolent demonstration in the neighboring village of Al Rakeez, where Israeli soldiers shot an unarmed Palestinian man, Harun Abu Aram, on New Year’s day.

Abu Aram, 24, was shot in the neck by Israeli soldiers who were conducting a raid on what remained of his neighbor’s home after a recent demolition. The soldiers were attempting to steal a generator from the neighbor. Abu Aram is in critical condition, in an induced coma, and is permanently paralyzed from the neck down.

Here is a short video account of the shooting.

Despite a complete lack of evidence and the peaceful nature of the protests, Sami Huraini has been charged with obstructing the peace and assaulting an Israeli soldier. He was conditionally released on January 15 after paying a cash bail of 10,000 shekels, while the prosecution prepares charges. The conditions of release are extremely punitive. In addition to the non-refundable bail, he is required to spend each Friday inside (or more likely waiting for hours outside) an Israeli police station inside a settlement, and is forbidden from planning or participating in any demonstration. He remains under threat of immediate re-arrest and is at risk of being taken into administrative detention.

These restrictions are indefinite, while the prosecution searches for evidence against him, so it is essential to continue to insist that all charges against him be dropped.

Sami Huraini is a leading human rights activist in the Masafer Yatta (South Hebron Hills) area. Residents of At Tuwani believe that his arrest is part of an effort to target him for his effectiveness as a community organizer and his leadership of the nonviolent protests that followed the nearby Abu Aram shooting. His arrest is just another example of the widespread targeting of activists by the Israeli military. The Israeli practice of trying Palestinians in Israeli military courts results in a conviction rate of over 99 percent and cannot be defended as just or democratic.

Sign a petition, addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations and the incoming United States Secretary of State, asking them to request that Israel drop all charges and restore Sami Huraini’s democratic rights to free speech.

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About Suffering: A Massacre of the Innocents in Yemen

The United States is contributing to the violent attacks on Yemen, while cutting back its humanitarian relief efforts.


Bruegel the Elder’s “Massacre of the Innocents”

Kathy Kelly, The Progressive, January 19, 2021

In 1565, Pieter Bruegel the Elder created The Massacre of the Innocents, a provocative masterpiece of religious art. The painting reworks a biblical narrative about King Herod’s order to slaughter all newborn boys in Bethlehem for fear that a messiah had been born there. Bruegel’s painting situates the atrocity in a contemporary setting, a sixteenth-century Flemish village under attack by heavily armed soldiers. 

Yemeni children are not “starving children.” They are children being starved by warring parties whose blockades and bomb attacks have decimated the country.

Depicting multiple episodes of gruesome brutality, Bruegel conveys the terror and grief inflicted on trapped villagers who cannot protect their children. Uncomfortable with the images of child slaughter, the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, after acquiring the painting, ordered another reworking. The slaughtered babies were painted over with images such as bundles of food or small animals, making the scene appear to be one of plunder rather than massacre.

Were Bruegel’s anti-war theme updated to convey images of child slaughter today, a remote Yemeni village could be the focus. Soldiers performing the slaughter wouldn’t arrive on horseback. Today, they often are Saudi pilots trained to fly U.S.-made warplanes over civilian locales and then launch laser-guided missiles (sold by Raytheon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin), to disembowel, decapitate, maim, or kill anyone in the path of the blast and exploding shards.

For more than five years, Yemenis have faced famines while enduring a naval blockade and routine aerial bombardment. The United Nations estimates the war has already caused 233,000 deaths, including 131,000 deaths from such indirect causes as lack of food, health services, and infrastructure.

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The village where Palestinians are rendered completely powerless

Help Harun Abu Aram Heal

Rebuilding Alliance is organizing this fundraiser and will be working with the family to meet their needs. They are a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to realize a just and enduring peace in Palestine and Israel founded upon equal rights, equal security, and equal opportunity for all.

Harun Abu Aram was shot and paralyzed by Israeli security forces on Friday in his village, where even having electricity is deemed illegal


Ashraf Amour and family members inside their home, in a cave in the village of Khirbet al-Rakiz, in the West Bank’s south Hebron Hills. (Emil Salman)

Amira Hass and Hagar Shezaf, Haaretz, January 5, 2021

"I blame myself for Harun’s injury,” said Ashraf Amour from the village of Khirbet al-Rakiz, near the cave where he and his family live in the West Bank’s south Hebron Hills.

“Ultimately, all that he did was come and help me when he saw soldiers confiscating my generator, and because of that, they shot him,” Amour said Sunday in describing the incident that left village resident Harun Abu Aram paralyzed from the neck down. 

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