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.

Contribute towards bail and legal expenses for Sami Huraini via Palestine Partners (a non-profit based in Madison to assist women and activists in the South Hebron Hills area.)

Donate to the care of Harun Abu Aram & his family via our friends at The Rebuilding Alliance, see a video of the incident, and read updates on his condition.

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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.

Systematic destruction of farms, fisheries, roads, sewage and sanitation plants, and health-care facilities has wrought further suffering. Yemen is resource-rich, but famine continues to stalk the country, the United Nations reports. Two-thirds of Yemenis are hungry and fully half do not know when they will eat next. Twenty-five percent of the population suffers from moderate to severe malnutrition. That includes more than two million children.

Equipped with U.S.-manufactured Littoral Combat Ships, the Saudis have been able to blockade air and sea ports that are vital to feeding the most populated part of Yemen—the northern area, where 80 percent of the population lives. This area is controlled by Ansar Allah (also known as the “Houthi”). The tactics being used to unseat the Houthis severely punish vulnerable people—those who are impoverished, displaced, hungry, and stricken with diseases. Many are children who should never be held accountable for political deeds.


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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. 

'All that he did was come and help me when he saw soldiers confiscating my generator, and because of that, they shot him'

“It would have been easier for me if they had demolished my animal pen or my children’s swings or if Harun had been shot in the arm or the leg,” Amour said, not attempting to hold back his tears, “but the bullet hit his neck and came out the other side, hitting nerves. Now he’s lying in the hospital paralyzed.”

The incident near the town of Yatta occurred on Friday and the height of the confrontation was caught on video by one of Amour’s neighbors. The army issued a statement for this article saying that the incident is being investigated.

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Why Was Harun Abu Aram Shot?

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.

Hamed Qawasmeh, Breaking the Silence, Jan 3, 2021

On Friday, IDF forces arrived at a Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills and confiscated a generator. In the scuffle that followed – a video of which can be seen below – Harun Abu Aram was shot in the neck by the soldiers. He was not shot for attacking or threatening the soldiers; he was simply trying to prevent them from taking the generator.

Abu Aram probably understood that he was taking a risk by intervening. He knew the soldiers wouldn’t just let him take the generator back. But village residents depended on that generator; getting by without it would be hard at the best of times, let alone at the height of winter. This is particularly true in the handful of villages in the South Hebron Hills in an area known as Massafer Yatta, which has been declared ‘Firing Zone 918’, an area that has been designated for IDF training. Even though many of the Palestinian families in those villages have lived there since before the State of Israel was even established, they are now on the verge of being evicted from their own land. In the meantime, the residents have been subject to constant harassment by Israeli security forces. In fact, Abu Aram’s house was demolished on the IDF Civil Administration’s orders less than two months ago.

This is no coincidence. Documents exposed by עקבות Akevot show that since the 80s, Israel has been making a concerted effort to establish its presence in strategic areas in the occupied territories through a variety of methods – including the creation of IDF training zones. (We wrote about it in the past here.)

So it’s clear this isn’t just about a fight over a generator; it’s about policy and facts on the ground.

Pro-occupationists would probably say that Abu Aram and his family had it coming to them — they shouldn’t be living there without building permits in the first place, they tell us. But who decides who gets the permits? None other than the IDF’s Civil Administration, the unelected military body in charge of the day to day governance of the West Bank. And an investigation carried out last year found that 98% of Palestinian requests for building permits were rejected (see article in comments). Is there any doubt whose side they’re on?

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Israeli Strikes on Gaza: 3 Civilians wounded and Buildings Damaged

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, December 27, 2020

Three Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded and many civilian buildings were damaged due to IOF air strikes in a densely populated area in Tuffah neighborhood, east of Gaza City.

According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 00:40 on Saturday, 26 December 2020, Israeli warplanes fired 5 missiles at an empty land near a residential compound on Salah al-Din Street, east of Tuffah neighborhood, east of Gaza City. As a result, 3 civilians, including a child, sustained wounds as the windows shattered. The wounded were: Yasmeen Mohammed Yehia al-Ashqar (6), Hani Mahdi Rasheed Hajjaj (55) and ‘Emad Khamis ‘Ali al-Haddad (32).

The IOF air strikes caused varying damage to many facilities and civilian objects -mostly shattered windows and displaced doors. The damaged establishments include al-Durra Children’s Hospital, a Ministry of Social Development rehabilitation center for persons with disabilities, Shuhada Gaza Elementary School, eastern Gaza Directorate of Education training center, al-Wedad Mosque, Al-Tuffah Club Stadium, and al-Yaziji Group Company for Soft Drinks. It should be noted that the eastern facade of Yaziji Group Company was destroyed, windows were broken, and its tin-plate roof collapsed.

Furthermore, Ramlawi Plastic Company, al-Sawaferi carpentry, Omar al-Shendi’s spare parts shop, the electricity network and many houses sustained severe damage due to the intensive aerial strikes.

The IOF air strikes not only caused material damage, but also caused fear and panic among the civilian residents, especially women and children.

PCHR emphasizes that the continued Israeli attacks on populated residential areas and the use of weapons on the basis of collective reprisals constitute grave violations of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, amounting to war crimes.

PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop Israel’s crimes and reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the oPt.

Landmark Endorsement of Rep. Joaquin Castro for House Chair

Over 50 progressive organizations endorse Rep. Joaquin Castro for Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC). At the end of November, Democratic House members will vote on who takes leadership of this important committee. HFAC makes decisions on arms control and disarmament issues, international funding and aid, deployment and use of armed forces, drug policy, international sanctions, and global health issues, such as COVID.

Rep. Castro represents the kind of leadership we need to build a foreign policy that reflects the growing progressive calls for diplomacy, support of human rights, and justice. We welcome Rep. Castro’s commitment to ensuring that Palestinian voices are heard in the Committee and his recent statements pushing for accountability on Israel for violations of international law.
Adalah Justice Project

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Kafr Qasim Massacre, October 29, 1956

Today is the anniversary of the 1956 massacre at Kafr Qasim. Kafr Qasim is one of hundreds of Palestinian villages occupied by Israel during the 1948 ethnic cleansing campaigns. Located near the militarized border of Israel’s expanding colonial rule in 1956, Israeli “border police” enforcing an unannounced early curfew killed 47 Palestinian workers, 23 of whom were under the age of 18.

We created these social media graphics to create awareness of this tragic event and to show how the fight against Israeli settler colonialism is part of the movement for labor justice. We hope you’ll learn from these graphics and share widely.

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