Ahed Tamimi is turning 17 – demand her freedom on her birthday!

Jan 30, 2018 — Dear friend,

Tomorrow, 31 January, Ahed Tamimi, the imprisoned Palestinian teen, is turning 17. Unfortunately, due to the Israeli settler colonial occupation, she will be marking her birthday behind bars in HaSharon prison awaiting a military court hearing, forcibly separated from her mother (also imprisoned) and the rest of her family.

These days are international days of action to support Ahed. You can be a part of wishing Ahed a happy birthday and sending her greetings of solidarity and freedom!

Ahed is one of over 350 imprisoned Palestinian children and over 6,100 Palestinian prisoners in total. These actions not only demand freedom for Ahed but for all of the Palestinians subject to imprisonment, occupation, apartheid and colonialism.

You can take action online!

In only seconds, you can join an online social media action to free Ahed Tamimi by joining in the Thunderclap! On 31 January, join a global campaign to tweet for Ahed Tamimi’s birthday. It’s easy to add your Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr account to the campaign: click here to join: (https://samidoun.us8.list-manage.com/track/click?u=ca6966f2db7aa619c20875634&id=a0f376c926&e=3116ec7e79).

There are many more actions you can take to support Ahed and the cause of Palestinian freedom. Check out our online action alert to learn more: (http://samidoun.net/2018/01/schedule-of-international-events-take-action-to-free-ahed-tamimi-and-all-palestinian-prisoners/)

Join us to take action in your own city, town or campus!
Join one of the many worldwide actions for Ahed Tamimi in the coming days! Add your event to the list by messaging them to us on Facebook or sending us an e-mail.

Make sure you have posters and flyers for your event: click here to download materials. We encourage you to reproduce and distribute them freely in your city! (https://samidoun.us8.list-manage.com/track/click?u=ca6966f2db7aa619c20875634&id=a58fa49701&e=3116ec7e79)

Tuesday, 30 January, Al-Khalil, Palestine. Birthday party for Ahed Tamimi, 6:00 pm, Tel Rumeida – Shuhada Street. Details: (https://www.facebook.com/events/186358621952559/)

For more information: (http://samidoun.net/)

Demolishing Palestinian schools ‘a quiet population transfer’

Orly Noy, +972, January 24, 2018

By destroying schools in Palestinian villages in Area C and elsewhere, Israel is forcing Palestinians to make a cruel choice — between their land and their children’s futures.

Students sit in a classroom at school in the Jahalin Bedouin community of Khan Al-Ahmar, West Bank, February 22, 2017. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)Students sit in a classroom at school in the Jahalin Bedouin community of Khan Al-Ahmar, West Bank, February 22, 2017. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

When the children of Beit Ta’mar, a village south-east of Bethlehem, left their improvised schoolhouse for winter vacation about two weeks ago, they did not know if the building would still be standing when they came back.

To call the building a school is to exaggerate. It is comprised of five concrete rooms on the top of a hill, constructed by the village’s residents, who also built the road to the school.

“Last August, we asked the army for permission to build a school for the children in the village,” Hassan Brigiah says on our way to the site. “We didn’t receive an answer, and after we talked with a lawyer, we decided to set up six caravans to serve as classrooms. The army came and dismantled the caravans. While they were doing this I said to them, ‘but you didn’t give us an answer at all!’ It didn’t help. We decided to build a few classrooms out of concrete, and in the meantime, a lawyer managed to get an order to prevent them from being demolished until the government gives us an answer.”

The army has since provided an answer—negative, as expected. The reasons, as always, are technical and bureaucratic. Ever since, the threat of demolition has hung over the improvised first through third-grade classrooms. The Palestinian Authority provided tables and chairs, which is noted on a plaque. “We’ll build the homeland with the power of knowledge,” is spray painted on one of the walls.

The school is located in Area C, but close to Area B, in the West Bank, under Palestinian civil control, and entirely on privately owned land, Birgiah says, adding that the construction was financed by the villagers themselves.

“We are very close to Tekoa and Noqdim, where [Defense Minister] Liberman lives,” Birgiah adds. “They have a lot of influence on the government. Nearly every day, the settlers stand on the hill overlooking the school and survey our children with binoculars. The army is also here all the time, walking around, taking pictures, and leaving. They want to show us that they’re here, so that we’ll continue to live in fear.”

In general, the sense is that schools and educational institutions have become a hot target for the army across the West Bank.

About a month ago, the army issued a demolition order against the fourth-grade classroom in a school in the community of A-Nawer, near the settlement of Maale Adumim. On October 7, 2017, the army confiscated the doors of the two schoolhouses there. According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, last summer Israeli troops declared the school a closed military zone and confiscated the solar panels that powered the school.

A day before the first day of the school year in the West Bank this past year, soldiers demolished a school in the village of Job a-Dib , leaving 80 students with nowhere to learn. The school was comprised of six caravans, which the army dismantled and confiscated. As Eli Bitan reported, during the demolition the army used stun grenades against residents.

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Call on Congress on to oppose Jerusalem recognition and UNRWA cuts

UWNRWA aid in Gaza

Last month, President Trump announced his administration’s reckless, one-sided decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and eventually move the U.S. embassy there. Now the administration is threatening to cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinians — a move that would have disastrous consequences for the Palestinian refugees who depend on it.

Take action today by signing the AFSC petition urging Congress
  • to reject any cuts to vital aid for Palestinians and
  • to oppose the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

We must oppose the administration’s actions, which undermine prospects for peace, threaten to harm security for both Israelis and Palestinians, and could make daily life harder for the most vulnerable Palestinians.

The Trump administration’s threat to cut assistance to UNRWA came after the Palestinian Authority understandably rejected the U.S. decision on Jerusalem and announced that it would no longer accept the U.S. as a mediator for peace talks.

U.S. aid to the Palestinians includes bilateral assistance for programs in the West Bank and Gaza and annual contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Although it was unclear which aid will be targeted for cuts, the administration has already announced that only $60 million of a $125 million dollar funding installment will be released to UNRWA, with conditions placed on any future U.S. funding to UNRWA.

U.S. support for UNRWA amounts to approximately one-third of the agency’s annual budget. The agency reaches roughly five million Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, providing services including education, health care, and emergency assistance.

If UNRWA cannot deliver services, half a million Palestinian children will suffer, according to spokesman Chris Gunness.

While we urge Congress to protect aid for Palestinians, we must also continue to press them to address the core issue of Palestinian refugees continually denied their fundamental rights, specifically the right to return to their lands and homes.

Contact your members of Congress today and ask them to:

  • Support constructive political action to achieve a just and lasting peace that will include a fair resolution to all outstanding Israeli and Palestinian concerns, including the status of Jerusalem and the rights of Palestinian refugees.

  • Advocate for the U.S. administration to reverse its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to begin the process of moving the embassy there.

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Don’t let Trump turn his back on Palestine refugees in need

Petition Background

On January 16, 2018, the US Administration made the decision to freeze millions of dollars to UNRWA in 2018. As the single largest contributor to UNRWA globally, this is an unprecedented and extremely dangerous decision that will cause untold additional trauma and harm to Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, who rely on UNRWA’s services.

Since UNRWA began its operations in May 1950, every administration, from Truman onwards, has stood with and provided strong, generous, and committed support to the agency. This administration is the only to make the destructive decision to cut such funding.

Through UNRWA’s humanitarian and development work, it is unique in providing vital services that are akin to those normally provided through governments and does so directly through over 33,000 staff, most of whom are Palestine refugees themselves.

As a neutral and impartial UN agency, it:

    • Educates 525,000 girls and boys in 700 UNRWA schools, including education on human rights, conflict resolution, and tolerance.
    • Operates more than 140 health centers and delivers comprehensive primary health-care services, handling more than 9 million patient visits per year.
    • Provides cash assistance and shelter rehabilitation to help refugees meet their basic human needs of food, shelter, and environmental health to achieve a decent standard of living and improve infrastructure and living conditions in the 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps.
    • Provides emergency humanitarian assistance through life-saving cash, food, and shelter support in Gaza and Syria.

I implore the White House to reconsider this decision, as it is against our American principles, global security and safety, and common human interest. In line with the democratic and humanitarian values this country was founded on and stands for, the US government’s investment in UNRWA’s work must be sustained, as it affects not only the lives of the over 5 million Palestine refugees the organization serves but the future and stability of the Middle East and beyond.

Ahed and Nariman Tamimi remanded in custody as military prosecution requested

‘Ahed Tamimi in court today. Photo by Oren Ziv, Activestills, 17 January 2018
Ahed Tamimi in court 17 January 2018 (Oren Ziv, Activestills)

B’Tselem, 17 January 2018

Remand in custody – even of minors – is part of the routine of oppression that Israel employs against Palestinians, with the full backing of the military courts, a system in which both judges and prosecutors are always military personnel, the defendants always Palestinian, and the conviction rate almost 100%.

Today (Wednesday, 17 Jan. 2018), a military judge approved the prosecution’s request to remand ‘Ahed and Nariman Tamimi in custody. The hearing, which was held at Ofer Military Court, is a prime example – one of many thousands – of how rather than serving justice, Israel’s military court system is a major tool of oppression serving Israel’s control over Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

Both ‘Ahed Tamimi (16) and her mother Nariman (42) have been in custody since 19 December 2017, after ‘Ahed was taken from her home in the middle of the night, and her mother was arrested when she came to find out what was happening with her daughter later that day. All the military prosecution’s requests to extend their detention have been approved by the military judges. Meanwhile, the prosecution has built up inflated case files against both mother and daughter, including a litany of charges that go back as far as April 2016 – conveniently ignoring the fact that until now, the authorities have seen no need to arrest the alleged suspects or call them in for questioning.

The high-profile arrest of the two has elicited extreme responses from top members of government in Israel, ranging from a demand to let them spend the rest of their lives in prison to an announcement that their relatives’ permits to enter Israel would be revoked. These reactions stem partly from the fact that the Tamimi family has long since become a symbol of unarmed Palestinian resistance to the occupation. To defeat this family, Israel is resorting to a variety of tools it has developed and used for more than fifty years against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, as part of its attempts to sustain the occupation regime.

The key measures that Israel is using against ‘Ahed and Nariman Tamimi are familiar – to varying degrees – from thousands of other legal cases that Israel has taken up against Palestinian defendants: Violent arrest in the middle of the night, slapdash indictments and prolonged detention that today became remand in custody for the duration of the proceedings. The fact that these measures are being used against a minor magnifies the violation of human rights that is already par for the course in Israel’s treatment of hundreds of Palestinian minors: According to statistics provided to B’Tselem by the Israel Prison Service, as of 30 November 2017, 181 Palestinian minors were being held in custody for the duration of legal proceedings in their cases.

Remand for the duration of the proceedings means that a person continues to be held in custody after the investigation has been concluded and an indictment filed, until all legal proceedings, including judgment and sentencing are over. During this time, the detainee is not serving a prison sentence and is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. As such, remand should be the exception to the rule, but in the military courts in the West Bank, the prosecution regularly asks the military judges to approve remand, and the latter almost always comply. This practice serves as an incentive for defendants to plead guilty to the charges against them and to sign plea bargains – regardless of whether they actually committed the offense and the evidence against them. If they choose to go to trial while in custody, they may end up spending more time behind bars than they would be sentenced to in a plea bargain.

The upshot of all this is that the military prosecution is almost never required to go to trial, where it would have to prove the defendant’s guilt. Consequently, the judges’ decision to approve remand is tantamount to a conviction – as the case is decided once the person is remanded, rather than based on the evidence. Pretrial approval of remand in custody of people who have not yet been convicted, as standard practice, effectively empties the judicial process of meaning.

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Iyad Burnat’s Palestinian Center for Non-Violent Action

Iyad Burnat interview by the Jersey Palestine Solidarity Campaign (JPSC)


Dear Friends,

Many of you know Palestinian activist Iyad Burnat, co-founder and President of the grassroots organization, Friends of Freedom and Justice (FFJ) in the West Bank village of Bil’in. Iyad and Bil’in’s heartfelt brand of peaceful resistance were the subject of the 2011 Academy Award-Nominated Documentary “5 Broken Cameras” and have continued to reach more people through the speaking tours of Iyad and his fellow villagers around the world and the visits of people from around the world to Bil’in. Like other West Bank villages, towns and cities, Bil’in is under siege by the Israeli military occupation with its continuous land seizures, and Iyad has been actively working to develop a model of non-violent resistance to the Occupation since 2005, when a nearby Israeli settlement expanded into Bil’in’s fields.

FFJ is now working to establish a “Palestinian Center for Non-Violent Action” (https://www.ffj-bilin.com/); a place where people from all over the West Bank and the world can come to learn the theory and practice of non-violent social change. The Center will include a museum, library, classrooms, learning and play spaces for children, spaces for arts and crafts, a visitor’s center, and guest rooms for visiting instructors and activists from around the world.

FFJ has made an initial down payment of $14,000 for the land on which to build the Center, but recent developments have delayed FFJ’s efforts to raise the remaining $30,000 needed by February to secure the property. Like other activists in the Palestinian peaceful resistance, Iyad and his family have come increasingly attack through harassment, threats, arrests and shootings. His eldest son, Majd, recently underwent surgery for injuries suffered from a shooting by Israeli forces, which caused extensive nerve damage to his leg, rendering him unable to walk unaided. His middle son, Abdul Khaliq, was recently shot, imprisoned, and is now awaiting trial. His youngest son, Mohammed, witnessed the arrest. The fate of the Center is hanging in the balance.

The purchase of this land and construction of Center are a positive answer to the systemic and brutal violence to which Palestinians are subjected to on a daily basis. Iyad, Bil’in and all Palestinians seeking to resist occupation nonviolently need our support.

Please donate to make the Palestinian Center for Non-Violent Action a reality. Together let us help make Bil’in a beacon of peaceful social responses to oppression for Palestine and the world.

Friends of Freedom and Justice

The Last Palestinian Kaffiyeh Maker

Al Hirbawi, supplier to the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

The kaffiyeh is a traditional Arab headdress and a symbol of the Palestinian struggle. Today, it continues to represent an important part of Palestinian heritage. Unfortunately, the Al Hirbawi factory is the last remaining institution in the Palestinian territories producing the original kaffiyeh. Brothers Jouda, Abdelazim and Ezzat have been working in the factory since they were kids, inheriting the family business and continuing the proud legacy.