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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Free Sami Huraini

Palestine Partners started this petition to United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’.

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.  The arrest occurred just hours after Sami’s participation in a nonviolent demonstration in the neighboring village of Al Rakeez, where Israeli soldiers shot and paralyzed an unarmed Palestinian man on New Year’s day. Despite a complete lack of evidence and the peaceful nature of the protests, Mr Huraini has been charged with obstructing the peace and assaulting an Israeli soldier.  

Mr 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 leadership of the nonviolent protests that have followed the January 1 shooting in nearby Al Rakeez. His arrest is an example of the widespread targeting of activists by the Israeli military courts. The Israeli practice of trying Palestinians in Israeli military courts results a conviction rate of over 99 percent and cannot be defended as just or democratic. 

We ask that you call on the Israeli government to drop the politically-motivated charges against Sami Huraini so that he can continue his work to protect human rights.

Sign this petition

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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Biden needs to reverse Pompeo on Israel/Palestine


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make a joint statement after meeting in Jerusalem, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, Pool)

Tsela Barr and Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, The Cap Times, Dec 4, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in another lame-duck effort to tie the hands of the incoming administration and give a parting gift to the far right in Israel and to right-wing Christian Evangelicals at home, has just poured kerosene on the fire of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The most senior U.S. official ever to publicly visit an Israeli settlement on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, Pompeo proclaimed that settlement-produced goods imported to the U.S. will no longer be labeled as they had previously been, “made in West Bank/Gaza.” Instead, they can now be labeled “made in Israel,” despite the fact that neither U.S. law, nor the United Nations, recognizes Israel’s de facto annexation of large swaths of Palestinian territory.

Trump and Pompeo hope to drive one more nail in the coffin of long-standing official U.S. policy, which, while not sufficiently supportive of the aspirations of the Palestinians for legitimate self-governance on their own land, at least until now has held the settlement enterprise to be illegal, illegitimate, counterproductive to the cause of regional peace and stability, and even damaging to Israel’s own interests.

But there is an even more dangerous part of Pompeo’s pronouncements: that henceforth, the U.S. will officially label the international grassroots movement known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as anti-Semitic and will create what amounts to a blacklist of organizations that support it.

The BDS movement is an international effort by millions of people to try to pressure the Israeli government to respect the human, political and economic rights of Palestinians. It is inspired by a similar movement that targeted and helped overthrow apartheid rule in South Africa.

While, as American Jews, we have serious concerns about rising anti-Semitism, which is traditionally defined as hostility to, prejudice toward, or discrimination against Jews, we are united in opposition to labeling BDS (or other criticism of Israeli policies), as anti-Semitic and even worse, to using the power of governments at all levels to outlaw or punish the BDS movement.

Labelling BDS and other criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic is a cynical move to suppress speech and action critical of Israeli violations of human rights. This is plainly and simply wrong, and indeed dangerous. What happens when actual anti-Semitism does take place? Will it be taken seriously when politicians make up their own contemptuous definitions of genuine hatred of our people?

In 2018, we worked together to try to stop such an effort right here in Wisconsin, where both then-Gov. Walker and the majority of the Wisconsin Legislature — from both parties — succeeded in writing unconstitutional anti-BDS legislation into law.

All who believe in free speech and the right to press governments to end injustices must speak out against yet another authoritarian move from this lame-duck administration. We call upon the incoming Biden administration to firmly reject Trump and Pompeo’s Israel/Palestine policy, including the dangerous BDS-as-anti-Semitism falsehood.

While Pompeo’s last-ditch efforts may make finding a just solution for the decades old Israeli-Palestinian conflict more difficult for President-elect Biden, they don’t make it any less necessary.

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Update: December 3, 2020 Rep. Mark Pocan Virtual Town Hall on Palestine

Please thank Rep. Pocan for participating in the town hall and for being a champion for Palestinian rights. His DC office line is (202) 225-2906.

The town hall was an amazing event that you don’t want to miss. The situation for Palestinians is so dire in so many ways, and hearing their stories directly should spur us all to action.

It’s not easy for Members of Congress to take a principled position on Palestinian rights, but Congressman Pocan has been on the frontlines despite the risks and pushback. In his town hall speech, he lists some of the amazing initiatives he’s led or participated in on Capitol Hill related to Palestinian rights just this year, and the list is admirable. Please take a minute to call his office and show appreciation for all he’s done.

Thanks for your activism,

Raed Jarrar
Advocacy Director, American Muslims for Palestine

Rep. Mark Pocan will be holding a virtual town hall this Thursday, December 3 at 9:30 am CT on Palestine, covering the impact of COVID-19 in Gaza and demolitions in the West Bank.

Co-organized by American Muslims for Palestine and the Rebuilding Alliance, the town hall features these on-the-ground speakers:

  • Eid Abu Khamis Jahalin, a community leader for his village of Khan Al Ahmar.
  • Alon Cohen-Lifshitz, an architect and urban planner who leads Bimkom’s activities in the West Bank.
  • Dr. Yasser Abu-Jamei, Executive Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.
  • Dr. Ahmed Mhanna, General Director Of Al Awda Hospital.

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